One of my resolutions, errr values to live by, this year was to be more still. I’m constantly needing to be focused on some activity. If it’s not meeting deadlines, I’ll stress-bake something, I’ll cycle over to Kettlebell to see who’s hanging around. I will find some activity to fill the time. It basically means I’m not embracing stillness. But these days are getting busier. I literally just got a dream job (more on that later!), I’m in the middle of two other happily paid gigs, and there are always photos to be taken. So I decided to get serious on taking a little time out from the thick of it. More specifically: to read books. Not think pieces. Not even long form essays. Nothing online, even if it is about reading. Thou shall not scroll. And this will not just happen during solo lunches, when I’m just getting to bed, or on vacation. But in the middle of the day, when I just need to step away from everything. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.
We all know I’m a big weirdo. So the things I read are probably the furthest most from my reality. I thought I’d share some of the mostly fictional things I’ve got on my Kindle these days.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
So I didn’t quite have the full synopsis when I started reading this book. I honestly thought it was a YA novel about young people and space exploration. Yeah, no. Instead I got one of the best and quickest reads about the experiences a teenager and the dark places that the human mind can get lost in. I finished it in three hours and I thought hard about how much we don’t know about what might be going on in the minds of our nearest and dearest.
The Best American Travel Writing, 2015, edited by Andrew McCarthy
I do a little dance when each edition of these annals of travel writing come out. A new vision from a guest editor directs the selections of this anthology each year. And I save each little piece of excellent travel writing for days I need to get out and there are no weekend trips on the horizon.
Painfully hilarious. This is exactly why I love Sloane Crosley’s writing. In her first full length novel, the humorist of the modern age mixes millennial angst and a cross-oceanic treasure hunt with wry observations about our generation of almost-do-wells. Also, France happens, and that always makes me happy.
I was a huge fan of Jeff Vandermeer’s crazy Southern Reach Trilogy and I think Abby Geni’s tale of scientists on an island that might want to eat them will be no different. Hallucinations, crazy interpersonal relations and literal sharks that are on the hunt are big features. Oh, and a dead body. And everyone’s a suspect. Fun.
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
I cried when I read Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale last year. And I came to understand why she was one of our nation’s cultural treasures. This story amid economic collapse centres around Stan and Charmaine, a couple who decide to enter a social experiment in order to avoid homelessness. But this involves living in the Positron Project, where residents alternate between a comfortable existence…and prison, every month. Of course heart strings are pulled and lives are threatened when a third party gets involved. This will probably result in more tears.
Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham
And now for something completely different. The narrative in this romantic comedy involves two voices (which is basically the literary trend these days). But on every possible form of communication possible. And it was inspired by the authors’ own flirtations over email. You’ve Got Mail for millennials. Swoon.