I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but when it comes to books, I’m willing to set myself some goals for 2018, starting with giving myself more reading time! Second on that list is to read David Grossman’s Man Booker Prize Winner, A Horse Walks Into a Bar, because it is set a stone’s throw from my hometown. I’d also like to revisit Lord of the Flies by William Golding, because I think that rereading it as a parent will give me a different perspective on the children’s descent into savagery. What titles are you planning to read in the new year? Consider choosing one of the recommendations from our Literary Mama staff this month.
Karna Converse, Editor-in-Chief, enjoyed a captivating read: “I’ve been drawn to books set in the early 1900s for some time and was happy to see The Snow Child—an enthralling tale of love and grief set in the magical wilderness of 1920s Alaska—as one of my local library’s book club selections. The opening lines of Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel immediately drew me into the story of homesteaders Jack and Mabel. Those lines describe the silence of the Alaskan wilderness, a silence Mabel had anticipated would be peaceful, that she’d welcome as relief from the failure she’d felt in the home they left in Pennsylvania. Instead, the silence only amplified the caws of the birds outside and the scratches of the broom she uses to sweep the cabin’s floors. The reason for Mabel’s overwhelming sadness and regret is the driving force behind this narrative that explores a time period when depression and death were not widely discussed. When a little girl who calls herself Faina shows up on their doorstep, the couple give themselves permission to be happy and to join the magical, joyful world the little girl inhabits. I found it difficult to put this book down and was captivated by the techniques Ivey used to weave together the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, the depth of the loneliness experienced by homesteading families, and the spellbinding effect of a fairy tale. It’s easy to see why The Snow Child was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and named the Indies Choice Award winner for Adult Debut Book of the Year (both in 2013).”
Libby Maxey, Senior Editor and Literary Reflections Editor, shares her latest read: “When Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for literature earlier this year, the obvious next step for me was to read his 1989 Booker Prize-winning novel, The Remains of the Day. Slowly, uncomfortably, yet often humorously, the book looks back over the life of Stevens, an English butler who finds himself struggling to regain his footing after World War II. The story is told in Stevens’s voice—the controlled voice of a man determined to be professional above all. But, of course, the book is very much about the appropriate limits of professional dedication and the degree to which control is an illusion. Behind Stevens’s stiff, proud narrative of honorable service is a long trail of losses that he does not want to confront: his father, also a butler, who raised his son to address him in the third person; his long-time employer, Lord Darlington, who turned out to be on the wrong side of history; and Lord Darlington’s former housekeeper, Miss Kenton, who would have made a life with Stevens if he could have imagined a life for himself in which he was anything other than a servant. Although I admit that I found Stevens insufferable, especially early in the book, by the end, I was both moved and impressed by the skill with which Ishiguro makes a relatively unsympathetic narrator sympathetic in spite of himself. The novel seems highly relevant too; it addresses the danger of finding identity and purpose only in one’s profession, of ceding moral responsibility to those in positions of authority, and of refusing to see things as they are because we would have them be otherwise.”
Jamie Sumner, Reviews Editor, recommends: “Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy, starts off with two L.A. families on a Christmas cruise. It’s the kind of opening you would expect for chick lit—a quirky book to take with you to the beach. But true to form, Meloy, the best-selling author of Liars and Saints and Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, creates a story which leaves no one unscathed. When the children are lost and then kidnapped during an excursion to shore, racial, familial, cultural, and moral assumptions disintegrate. Meloy exposes the upper-class naiveté and the innocent bravery of children in the face of adult corruption. I read this book at lightning speed. It is a study in suspense and heartbreak. It made me hug my children and also question my own assumptions of the good fortune which has carried us safely thus far.”
What are your reading resolutions for 2018? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @LiteraryMama