In January I decided I wanted to read. I wasn’t feeling inspired to watch any shows or movies, and have so many books sitting on my shelf unread. I didn’t particularly love all five books, so these are books I read from last year as well that stuck with me. These are in no particular order!
Native Son by Richard Wright
Holy shit, holy shit, HOLY SHIT. This novel has changed my life and I need someone else to read it so we can discuss it. I don’t want to spoil anything about this, because going in blind will make it more meaningful and impactful in my opinion. This novel has been considered one of the most accurate depictions of the African American experience in America. It’s thought-provoking and will leave you questioning the ethnic tension today. It’s short but you will reread some passages to reiterate the plot, don’t skip over areas. Read them as many times as you need to.
Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o
This book was suggested to me back in college from the professor who graded my Senior Thesis. It took me a long time to read, but it won’t disappoint. It fully encompasses the history of postcolonial Africa, set in the mythical Free Republic of Aburĩria. This is a highly complex satire that delves into some of the most beautiful linguistic prose you could ever want, all while being African storytelling at its core. It was translated by the author himself, which makes me ecstatic, knowing that he was able to keep his words. If you’ve read translations before, you know some aren’t worth the read. It starts out slowly as you need to get a lot of history and settings, it took me two starts until I finally got the rhythm.
Blindness by José Saramago
Despite the fact that this book is older, I could not put this down. I read this on my first trip to Denver, and it was maybe a bit dark for a vacation read. The story begins with one man going blind, and his blindness spreads like a plague to anyone who interacted with him. They lock up those who turn blind in hopes of stopping the sickness. The devastation and chaos that ensues leaves you disturbed and horrified. This book was suggested to me years ago by my friend Falco, but I only came across it in a used book store a year or so ago. This is not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy apocalyptic novels, this is right up your alley.
Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
If you’re a fan of Devil in The White City, you will thoroughly devour Isaac’s Storm. There aren’t multiple story lines, but rather the focus is on the main character Isaac Cline. In 1900 Galveston, Texas was hit by the deadliest storm to ever hit North America. This novel follows the history of hurricane research, and the mistakes that were made that resulted in the deaths of over 8,000 people. Everything that is written is based on documents, photographs, letters, and research done by Larson, the only thing fictional is the dialogue in some sections. It’s heartbreaking, but a must-read if you want to know the fascinating history of hurricane tracking. If you’ve only read his other book, this will be similar content but you’ll be able to consume it at a faster pace.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
For fans of Lord Byron and Edith Wharton, this novel is DENSE. Fowles has a way of weaving some of the most complex passages you could imagine. I find myself re-reading sections over and over again. What makes this so delicious a read is the fact that there is a modern narrator commenting on the Victorian characters and their actions. A young man, engaged to another becomes increasingly obsessed with the story of a young woman known as Tragedy, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It’s a unique and phenomenally written novel, but be prepared to dedicate some serious reading time. Once I got going though, I started flying through the chapters.
I realized at the end of this that these are all male authors, what the fuck. I was legitimately just working my way through my bookshelf and it is dominated by men. If you have any suggestions for female writers, preferably women of color, please drop names and titles down below! Always looking for new books.
If you’ve read any of these books, let’s have a mini-discussion in the comments below!