This month I read some fantasy, some non-fiction, and some contemporary fiction both satirical and…weird. Recommended books are italicized!
Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
The second book in Hobb’s Farseer trilogy started out slow but became quite engrossing about halfway through. Initially, I complained about the dearth of female characters, but then Kettricken wound up being amazing (I’d still like more amazing female characters in this series, please!). I liked how the Wit was explored more, but I’m still very confused as to why it is so stigmatized when Seeing is not. Of course, since it is the second book in a trilogy, the novel ended with everything horrible. Here’s hoping things will get better in Assassin’s Quest!
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Recommended to me by a bookkeeper in Santorini, this book totally lived up to my expectations! It’s a post- (and pre-) apocalyptic novel that focuses on cultural and individual changes rather than Outrageous Action. It’s both haunting and hopeful, and the writing is stunning. I definitely recommend it!
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
This is a beautifully sad and hopeful book about bullying, suicide, and depression that ultimately proclaims that there is beauty in the broken. This is all pretty standard when it comes to YA novels, but this stands apart by using alien abductions as a metaphor…or maybe they were real!
Gender & Grace by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen
This has been sitting on my bookshelf for years, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. Using both theology and psychology, Van Leeuwen creates a very compelling and easy to read defense of the biological and cultural influences on gender and sexuality. It’s conservative while also being open and accepting, and I really admired her balanced perspective.
South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
I’ve been hearing a lot about Murakami recently, but I have to admit that I was disappointed by my first foray into his work. I feel like I missed something, but maybe this book really was about a self-obsessed and possibly psychotic middle-aged man getting over his exes and finally choosing commitment simply because he doesn’t want to be lonely. It all felt like obnoxious patriarchal “literature,” but I’ll give him one more try.
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
What is the opposite of patriarchal nonsense? CARRIE FISHER! Her last book is amazing: a testament to her wit and ability to self-reflect, and wow, when it was over did I wish she were still alive to continue gifting us with her talent. This is the book that reveals her affair with Harrison Ford while filming the first Star Wars movie, and her memories of that time are both humorous and touching. The world needs more people like her.
The Liar by Stephen Fry
I picked this up at a book bazaar, and it is quite possibly the most British book I’ve ever read, by which I mean it is extremely absurd. If you like twisty words and witty dialogue (and don’t mind a LOT of absurd British sex thrown into the mix), you’ll probably enjoy this. Just remember, everyone is lying, all of the time.
Packing Light by Allison Fallon
A book about a Christian writer who doesn’t want to be a “Christian writer” and packs up all her things to go on a 6-month road trip in pursuit of a simple, adventurous life couldn’t be more tailored to me. Perhaps that is why I highlighted so much of Fallon’s memoir, but I think it’s possible that she’s also just extremely quotable. It’s more of a thinkpiece than a travel memoir, but I recommend it nonetheless!