Another month has passed and I am happy to announce that I have yet again met and surpassed my reading quota of at least three books a month! Yay!
The Southern Reach Trilogy has been released throughout the year and September was the month of the release of the final instalment (the others having been released in February and May).
Vandermeers writing is often characterized as “weird fiction” and I think this an apt description. This trilogy in particular was terrifyingly strange and an absolutely great read. It is a speculative story about an Area somewhere along the US coast, that after some mysterious incident has been labelled as “Area X”. The Southern Reach, a government institution dealing with everything connected to the area sends in expeditions in order to study it and the equal mysterious border that surrounds it. All three books tell the story from different points of view and with different narrative styles. I won’t say too much about book three because I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone. The whole trilogy is different from and a special kind of speculative fiction. Especially the writing and switching between narrative styles makes it an interesting, albeit not fast-paced, read.
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
4 out of 5 stars
Picking this up, I was expecting something very different than what it turned out to be. It’s about fifteen year old Anais who spent most of her life in state care and is generally struggling with her position in life. This novel struck me as very gritty and real and I loved the narrators slang-laden voice.
If you’d like to know more I actually managed to write a full review of it. Just click here (opens in a new window).
The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
3 out of 5 stars
This was more like a quick read in between books. I didn’t really know what I wanted to read next and needed some kind of palate cleanser after the weird and gritty stuff I read before (see above).
This is just a short little collection of imaginary and mythological animals. Each animal/chapter is followed by a discussion between Ann and Jeff Vandermeer about if that particular imaginary animal would be kosher or not. So if you ever wanted to know if Jews are allowed to eat a Dragon, a Manticore, or Sasquatch this is the right book for you! It’s silly and funny and I really loved the discussion parts. Also I got to learn about some very weird imaginary/folklore animals on the way.
Stoner by John Williams
5 out of 5 stars
Another one that I did write a review about! This was a great month for me in terms of blog-writing.
Stoner is a book about the love of literature and the significance of the individual life. It is quite touching and beautifully written. And even though this is a story containing decades of a man’s life in just under 300 pages it is detailed and the characters are well-formed. Some of them are so well-formed that you cannot but actually hate them for what they are doing to Stoner! This novel was definitely this months winner for me. Here’s my full review.
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
3 out of 5 stars
I wanted a somewhat scary book for the days approaching Halloween. And this is what I decided on. And what can I say, it was pretty scary. This is post-apocalyptic speculative fiction and I think it’s best to let the blurb speak for this one: “Something is out there . . .
Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.”
So the only way people can keep safe in this world is by keeping their eyes closed. The novel tells the story of a small group of survivors and deals with group dynamics and the fear of the unseen. Overall a gripping and scary read. I recommend some night time reading for this one.
Saga Vol.2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
4 out of 5 stars
I read the first volume in September and since the hard cover editions are so ridiculously expensive I can only afford one volume per month. Volume two is a bit weaker than the incredible start of the series but it’s still as weird and creative and funny and interesting and moving as the first one. I am so curious for what other great ideas Vaughan still has up his sleeve! Need more! Now!
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
– not finished yet –
Oh, David Mitchell… I know your books are a bit hard to get into but this one has a particularly boring beginning. I started this two weeks ago. It was actually going to be my vacation read. But I think I pressured myself too much into having to read this right then and there. I just couldn’t get into it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked “Cloud Atlas” and I absolutely loved “Ghostwritten” but Mitchell’s books are not exactly easy reads. I think I just wasn’t in the right mood for this. I will definitely read it – just not right now.
So this is October all wrapped up. Six books read. One unfinished. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up that pace throughout the next two months since Christmas time is coming up. And in retail this is a murderous time. Well, we’ll see.