Being such an avid reader, I have grown to understand those types of books which make me weak in the knees, give me the vapors, and generally have me leaping in the air to grab any book that fits my specific loves.
In no particular order, I love the following categories. I included some examples of how I describe them. These books may not have all been 5 stars but they fit this concept, in my mind at least.
- coming of age (or just general) books set in boarding schools
- cozy mysteries
- lush, atmospheric writing
- quiet tales of simple life with a ton of heart
- tales set deeply in a different culture or part of the world
- stories where a woman’s options were constrained by cultural norms
- adventure/swashbuckling tales
- spy thrillers with knotty political/personal implications
- The Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva
- gothic tales
- historical fiction with famous characters/people either as the focus or interwoven into the narrative
- Women in Rock
- Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine
- Just Kids by Patti Smith
- Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh
What I want to attempt to read more of in the future:
- Short stories– What I tend to find is that many short stories pack a punch with strange twists or awkward interactions at the center. I don’t generally enjoy those as they leave me a bit sad and cold. I like more emotive than plot based short stories. I read The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpha Lahiri and it was a bullseye for everything I was looking for in a short story collection. It was evocative, thoughtful, poignant and very beautifully written. I fell in love with the cover of the Clarice Lispector work of Complete Stories and so when I read some fantastic reviews of it, I went out and bought a copy. I anticipate that the hunt for more lovely short stories collections will be something that I continue in 2016.
- Non-fiction tales about death and dying– Not really the party pleaser of topics, but recently I have been drawn to a more nuanced understanding of death, dying, grief, and all the things that go with it. Not for any specific reason, but I think reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara last year opened this door on the nature of suffering and questions of the inevitability of death. I have a few books waiting in the wings for when I feel able to devote the mental and emotional space to reading them. They are: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and an ARC of the newly released When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
- Science Fiction– I am late to this party. There have been a few scifi books that made indelible impressions upon me (I’m talking about you, Dune !) but it isn’t a genre that I felt confident in exploring. But last year’s Read Harder Challenge had a science fiction book as one of the tasks and in researching it, I found a treasure trove of material. I was swept away by Moxyland by Lauren Beukes. It was fun, sporadic, modern and filled with action. I also read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell which blew my mind with the plot complexity, the rich characters and the depths of the themes explored. This year I have ventured a little deeper into the genre with N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon. That book came from a discussion of The Sparrow I had at a party and it was suggested that I look into her work. What a revelation! It hit so many of my most loved categories- lush writing, a swashbuckling tale, with political intrigue thrown in. I am looking forward to the second book in that series. And then I just read an amazing book, which is probably no surprise to anyone else in the reading world… Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. What a stunning read! And in all fairness, it isn’t a straight genre read or a straight literary fiction book, but something in between. But that in between was magical.
Any suggestions along the themes I listed above?