Alright, so 2014 hasn’t been my best reading year, but I plan to make 2015 better! I truly struggled to think of my top ten new-to-me authors. It isn’t that I haven’t read ten or more books in 2014, but not too many stuck with me. Add that to the fact a lot of my reading was for school and well, here we are.
1. Claudia Rankine – Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: Boy, will Rankine put you in a mood. It isn’t a typical novel where each page is filled top to bottom with words; each page, varying from one paragraph to three, is written like a small snapshot or thought captured. Rankine takes on heavy topics like depression (or mental illness in general) in relation to prescription drugs, faith in America (not necessarily religious faith), visual media, and particularly death in the sense of questioning when a person truly dies. It’s a moving, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking novel. More so, the way she unpacks concepts is what makes me excited to read her other works.
2. Anthony Walton – Mississippi: An American Journey: It seems to me that so many people oppose non-fiction and autobiographies! Though they’re not the genres I typically run to either, I still see the value. Walton, in particular, is an author who proves that value. Mississippi is a journey of self-discovery in retelling the history of segregation and slavery through both historical and personal stories. Everyone learns about the civil rights movement in their American history courses, but not like this. The knowledge and perspective I have gained from reading this novel is more than I’ve ever received in a history class.
3. J.K. Rowling – The Harry Potter Series: Do I even need to state why she’s in the top ten? No? Didn’t think so.
4. Bram Stoker – Dracula: I know Dracula is a classic, but I have been putting it off for years. Why? No particular reason to be exact, but if I could go back in time and read it sooner, I would! Stoker has these moments where he is profound, somewhat philosophical, and I find myself simply sitting and rereading over his beautiful lines:
“…even the terrible change in her daughter to whom she is so attached – do not seem to reach her. It is something like the way Dame Nature gathers round a foreign body an envelope of some insensitive tissue which can protect from evil that which it would otherwise harm by contact. If this be an ordered selfishness, then we should pause before we condemn any one for the vice of egoism, for there may be deeper root for its causes than we have knowledge for” (104).
5. Chimamanda Hgozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun: I’ve been struggling in my African Literature course because I haven’t found much of the material, outside of a short story collection, truly enthralling. Then we read Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. It gripped me from the start. I spent all night flipping page after page into the wee morning. Since then Adichie has been an author I want to read more of. Plus she gives AMAZING TED talks (go watch:).
6. Galway Kinnell – The Book of Nightmares: His poetry is grotesque, vivid, and beautiful. I love love love him.
“Dear stranger / extant in memory by the blue Juniata, / these letters / across space I guess / will be all we will know of one another. / So little of what one is threads itself through the eye / of empty space. / Never mind. / The self is the least of it. / Let our scars fall in love” (31).
7. Jennifer L. Knox – The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway: Hilarious, unexpected, satirical, and imaginative are all words that describe the type of poet Knox is. There are some serious moments in her collection, but for the most part it is off the wall and quite refreshing.