My Reading Journal, 2022: Fiction

Fiction:

I have a fond memory from earlier in the year following a blind buy of Gallant. I had been inspired to read more fiction. At the time I was immersed in non-fiction (still am), and I was craving a good story. This set in motion an intentional effort to uncover more literary fiction. My year was hit and miss on this front, but I do remember feeling so rewarded after finishing the final page of that book. Left me craving more.

The following is not a ranked list nor a complete list. They are simply the reads that I found most memorable. I was excited to look back, and I was a bit surprised to see how much I gravitated towards younger books. Seems that’s what I needed, and I am more than happy to embrace that. Looking forward to what the new year has in store. Happy reading.

Gallant By E.B. Schwab

The aforementioned read that sparked a renewed vigor to track down and read some good literary fiction is the sort of story that feels tailor made me for. It revels in themes of light and dark, death and life, while infusing this exploration with a sense of childhood innocence and imagination capable of addressing real existential questions in meaningful ways. The horror notes are simply the icing on the cake.as it utilizes its atmospheric setting (a mysterious house and unsettled family history).

Grace By Natashia Deon

A studied author, new to me and I think fairiy new to the literary scene as a whole. I was introduced to her works through an interview with the author on the thefearofgod podcast here. I went out and tracked down her two primary works (the other one being The Perishing) through one of our local bookstores and was immediately taken up with her style. She writes with one eye towards the spiritual and another towards the deeply felt realities of the world she is fleshing out. Here she tells a generational story that allows the book to look backwards and forwards as it grapples with the subject of racism and the black experience. Features a strong literary structure and a powerful emotional undercurrent that pulled me into the world of the characters and allowed me to experience its story,

Til We Have Faces By C.S. Lewis

Picked this up following a podcast episode where a couple of readers described this as a lesser known work from a popular author that really surprised them with its depth of insight on the nature of love and its use of mythology to say something true about our experience of it. I actually timed my reading to intersect with valentines day, providing a kind of liturgy for the season, and it did not disappoint. It’s different from anything else I’ve read from Lewis, and in a way uncovered a side of him that I didn’t know existed. Expands his imaginative tendencies into a work that is able to challenge our narrowed way of seeing such myths play out in the moder world as mere story rather than as truth.

Tilly and the Bookwanderers By Anna James

This was another podcast recommend (many of the books I read are), and it came from someone passionate about getting this story out into the world where more people can experience it. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes and setting this world in an old bookstore, a space which affords this young child endless opportunity for adventure through the written word, is simply the starting point for a story that includes elements of family, mystery, interesting characters, and important life lessons. A pure delight to read as a grown adult.

Interior Chinatown By Charles Yu

I made an invested move earlier in the year to read more books from and about and/or set in China, and this is one that stood out for me for its inventive style and its investment in fleshing out its characters in a real sense of time and space. I felt like I was able to embody the world from a perspective different than my own, and the sheer quirkiness of the Hollywood backdrop gives the whole thing a unique and entertaining flavor.

Trumpet of the Swan By E.B. White

Bought this one because of my love for the author and a renewed interest in his biography. Charlotte’s Web played a formative role in my childhood, being one of earliest books I read and reread over and over. In Trumpet, I loved the way the tale details this relationship between a boy and a swan by giving both an assumed sense of agency without ever questioning the viability of their shared struggle across species. The swan isn’t presented as a Disney character, rather White imagines how it is that a swan might exist in the world as a swan if barriers to communication were not an obstacle. It would happen through vocal cues rather than words, and it would require reconceptualizimg how it is that we define social norms. The fact that it is so normalized in the book for a swan to simply participate in the world of humans allows the book the freedom to simply focus on their relationship as two creatures somewhat removed from their natural habitat, as though neither belongs where they are, attempting to find their way back together. It is a moving and beautiful story.

A Psalm For The Wild Built By Becky Chambers

A monk and a robot walk into a room. If that sounds like a joke, rest assured it is actually a poignant philosophical and spiritual reflection on life, death and meaning, sentience and desire. Chambers is an intelligent writer who knows how to imagine a small, intimate sci-fi premise in ways that dig deep into some big important questions regarding the nature of being human, forming that through some nice world building and intimate characterization into a compelling journey.

The Wishing Spell By Chris Colfer

Had the privilege of reading this while I was in Omaha in the shadow of a genuine castle. Loved the take on a world where familiar stories come alive, and it is filled with magic and adventure as we follow these children through the land of stories in search of a way home. Some nice family subtext as well

Scarborough By Catherine Hernandez

Saw the movie and I was immediately compelled to pick up the book. The film is a nearly word for word adaptation of the book, simply fleshing out some of the side trips into the lives of the different kids and families with a greater use of silence and space as opposed to descriptive. Both hold an equal gut punch as it examines a neighborhood in the GTA by way of a learning center dedicated to helping set up families with young children for success.

Fairytale By Stephen King

I’m a big fan of King and generally try to read much of what he releases, which is a lot. Sometimes the stories he writes feel familiar, fitting one of the handful of motifs and genres that he tends to dabble in. Every once in a while he comes out with something that expands on that mold. This is one of those books. It’s a grown up take on a fairy tale that also works for a slightly younger audience. It’s lengthy (not unusual) a bit epic (also not entirely unusual), and a fresh mixing of worlds hidden and visible befitting a strong fairy tale vibe. I personally enjoyed the characters, which centers on a boy coming of age and a grumpy old man whom he accidentally ends up befriending after responding to some distress. There is a subtext of faith that undergirds the young boys personal journey that fits well with the kind of journey he finds himself needing to embark on. I do have some issues, but this is one that I ultimately found both enjoyable and refreshing in terms of Kimg’s usual fare.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold By Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Another blind buy, this time based on the dual premise of coffee and time travel. If anything would sell me it would be marrying these two ideas together. And the book does so marvelously using a kind of what if scenario. Inside this unassuming coffee shop there sits a woman, who herself is sitting in a chair. As the legend goes, the one who sits in this chair can travel back to a given point in time, but there are rules that must be followed. The setting is contained, and everyone in the shop is given the space needed to flesh out their story. On that level it plays as part mystery without ever getting heavy handed or subsumed by the complexity of its big ideas. A delightful and breezy read with just the right touch of emotional concern.

Eternal Life By Dara Horn

I am a considerate fan of Horns earlier work, so when I saw she had written another work tackling similar themes I was excited to pick it up and give it a go. This never quite achieves the same level of introspection and world building, but it does have its moments. It trades some of the humility of the previous work for something slightly less nuanced. But where the big ideas do surface here it rings out with potential. This is especially true when the book spends time exploring the different worlds that bind two separate times, the Greco-Roman world and the modern one, together.

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

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