Have you ever read a book so deeply thought-provoking and meaningful that you feel completely undeserving to have been able to read it? A book that, at under 300 pages, manages to twist and turn through time and space, all while asking some of life's greatest questions: why are we here? What does it all mean? Mandel offers this and much more in her latest work, a deeply intimate and utterly fascinating meditation on the state of the world, past, present, and future. An absolute must-read for fans of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel. Truly, I cannot recommend this title enough.
This isn't merely a collection of stories as the cover would suggest. What Degollado's compiled is rather a series of individual brush strokes that, put together, paint the kind of family portrait you'd expect to find permanently fixed above a fireplace, only with with a profound amount of care given to each stroke ultimately betraying the simple smiles across each face. What I mean to say is that this story, this family, is a work of art. The effect of its delivery brings to mind how the reader may have discovered their own family history; in small glimpses that can at times feel uncomfortably, beautifully raw, always leaving a desire to know more. Coming from a family with a history not unlike that of the Izquierdos, I may be biased in expressing how deeply I find myself in these pages, and just how wonderfully heartening that feels, though I'm certain readers across any background can and will easily say the same. What a terrific debut!
"Your father is about to ask me the question. This is the most important moment of our lives, and I want to pay attention, note every detail. Your dad and I have just come back from an evening out, dinner and a show; it's after midnight. We came out onto the patio to look at the full moon; then I told your dad I wanted to dance, so he humors me and now we're slow-dancing, a pair of thirtysomethings swaying back and forth in the moonlight like kids. I don't feel the night chill at all. And then your dad says, 'Do you want to make a baby?' "
So begins Story of Your Life, the absolutely mind-bending fourth story of eight within Ted Chiang's collection. I read this at the recommendation of a friend, and I've been struggling for months now to put into words just how profound a piece of writing this is. I can't recommend it enough. Honestly, if you're in the mood to have your notions of time and language reconceptualized entirely, keep this title in mind.
Note: pairs well with a sunny afternoon and a cup of your favorite tea.
Through the eyes of a one of a Nigerian Igbo tribes leader's Okonkwo, and his family, Chinua Achebe depicts the heartrending tragedy of the downfall of a vibrant society at the hands of European colonizers during the 19th century. The first of three novels comprising the African Trilogy, Achebe's work underscores as poignantly today as when it was first published in 1958 the unending need for atonement for the innumerable atrocities committed against the entire continent in the name of imperial conquest. An absolute must-read if you've been considering diving into world literature, but haven't known where to begin. This is your starting point.
When a friend asked me what Kindred was about, my response was, "You know that one Christopher Nolan movie (Memento (2000)) with that line that goes something like 'I have this condition...'? Think that, only with time travel"
...the truth is this story is so much more complex, and relates in absolutely no way to this movie at all.
Through the eyes of Kindred's protagonist, Dana, Octavia Butler forces readers not only to take a second look at how we conceptualize love, family, and home, but also (more importantly) to bear witness to the lived reality of existence as a slave in the antebellum South. As Dana learns, this is an existence which, to many, not necessarily entailed the desire simply to be free from bondage, but rather, to survive. Kindred is special, and I highly recommend giving it a read. Check out the graphic novel adaptation too!
"Life turns on a dime"
Time travel, romance, drama, suspense, MAINE???? I mean, come on, it's Stephen King. The man needs no introduction. For his 49th(!) novel, King takes the reader on a journey beginning in the town of Lisbon Falls, 2011 with Jake Epping, a high school English teacher. Recently divorced and generally down and out, Epping soon has his world turned upside down when his friend and local restaurant owner, Al Templeton, reveals that his diner is actually a portal that transports him to the year 1958, and that Jake must uproot his entire life to go live for five years in the past, kill Lee Harvey Oswald, and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Sounds simple, right? An absolute rollercoaster of a novel, this book takes the reader on a massive journey, and once you pick it up you'll have an extremely hard time puttng it down until all of its 849 pages are read. An excellent read for times like these when you're stuck inside, the weather's terrible, and there's little else to do!