I love to read.
Perhaps it’s escapism, or maybe it’s the best way for me to flex the creative muscles of my brain. It allows me to travel the world (or even realms) without leaving my seat. It fills my mind with wonder, inventiveness, and the hunger to put beauty into the world.
I recently shared dinner with my good friend, Margo Lightburn, who expressed a desire to read more —but being a full time teacher, wife and mother — didn’t even know where to start. She suggested I put together a list of my recent favorites (maybe this will turn into a book club??) to get her moving in the right direction. These are a few of the books I’ve read in the past year that have particularly resonated with me. They range from fantasy to autobiography, so there’s a taste for all!
(I realize I’ve only mentioned male authors, but fear not! Ann Patchett, Gabrielle Bernstein, and Glennon Doyle Melton are all on deck!)
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
I’ll start here because Neil Gaiman is my literary boyfriend. (True, this is information unknown to him, but a girl can dream in-between pages.) I have had a long standing love affair with myth, fairy tales, the supernatural, and anything with a dose of darkness. Gaiman has an uncanny ability to blend the beautiful magic and history of myth with modern day grittiness, digestibility and accessibility for all. While this book was written in 2001, it stands strong in this modern age and clearly displays how ahead of his time he actually was. This story showcases the gods of old (think Norse, Hindu, etc) struggling to maintain their power in a world that no longer believes in them. Gaiman’s America (read: our world today) worships the church of television and computers, alters replace by screens, old gods being forgotten in favor of modern technology gods. The result? War, of course. Oh, and a modern day masterpiece.
Added bonus: Starz has turned American Gods into a TV series coming in 2017. READ THE BOOK FIRST!
This is Water, by David Foster Wallace
I devoured this remarkable book in one reading while on vacation. This is Wallace’s commencement address given at Kenyon College in 2005. The pages fly, but the words stick to your soul. He delivers a stirring speech about our journey into adulthood and how to maintain our compassion, and ultimately, empathy. This is a stunning wake up call for anyone coasting in neutral, or desiring a better understanding and connection to everyone surrounding us.
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This wildly successful biography is powerful, enlightening, and beyond all —profoundly revelatory. Between the World and Me is Coates’ letter to his adolescent son, attempting to answer what it means to inhabit a black body in America. It’s impossible to do this book justice in a brief blurb, so let me just say this —absolute required reading.
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli
I have to be completely honest — I would have never picked up this book on my own. I’m not much for science, and always tend to want to read chimerical fiction or spiritually packed non-fiction. My girlfriend is always reading a wide array of topics and plopped this one one my queue list.
Again, to be honest, after reading this book, I certainly couldn’t converse on quantum physics or any of Einstein’s theories in an intelligent way, but I did walk away knowing more about remarkable, genius, and nearly incomprehensible theory. I also walked away with one glorious lesson:
Einstein always began with, “It seems to me …” as opposed to, “I know everything; hear me roar.” One of the brightest minds always had the decency to stop, contemplate, and make an offering instead of a stubborn statement. Thank you, Einstein. May our minds all be as open as yours.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (Currently reading)
I wasn’t kidding when I proclaimed my ongoing love affair with Gaiman’s magical penmanship, and this nugget is pure gold. This novel begins with an adult man returning to his hometown for a funeral where wild childhood memories come flooding back. The kind of memories that only a child could dream up — or perhaps actually experienced? This story resonates with me, a tiny Kansas girl who spent most of her younger years weaving stories out of milk thistle, honeysuckle and the pages of my beloved stories. It’s transporting me into a land-before-time. A place where anything is possible when you let your mind go free. It’s absolutely exquisite.
On that note, I’m finishing my blog and opening my book.
Happy reading, y’all!