Southern Reach Trilogy — Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer's 2014 trilogy of novels, including Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. Southern Reach is a secret agency that manages expeditions into an area known as Area X. Area X is an uninhabited and abandoned area that nature has begun to reclaim. The novels follow various characters some of which are part of the expeditions and some are part of the staff. The novels take a chilling turn when the characters begin to see the truth of Area X.
Why I read this book: Stephen King recommended it on Twitter.
Carried Away — Alice Munro
Nobel Prize in Literature author Alice Munro’s collection of short stories range from early works to recent publications from her career. Demonstrating a wide range in her talents as an author, Munro captures the Canadian literary canons throughout her work and brings rural and city characters to life. Select stories follow previous narratives in the collection creating a wholesome experience as the reader is grows immersed in the ever-developing narrative.
Why I read this book: My partner wrote an inscription in it for my nineteenth birthday so I attempted to finish it before I turned twenty.
House of Leaves — Mark Z. Danielewski
The 700 page novel combines the story of Will Navidson, a prize winning photographer slowly losing his mind and his family thanks to an ever growing house, and the daily life of Johnny Truant, the man who finds the manuscript of The Navidson Record, a book written about the experience of Will Navidson. Purposely published with pages missing and long winded details, only those who are more interested in the journey instead of the destination should bother to read this book. Considered by some as modern literary canon, this read is designed to be read carefully and slowly, not in a handful of days.
Why I read this book: I was desperate to a find something to read in an internetless trailer park in Florida and a friend recommended it.
Luckiest Girl Alive - Jessica Knoll
Luckiest Girl Alive tells the story of Ani FaNelli, who after enduring public humiliation during her time in high school, looked to reinvent herself. As an adult, Ani accomplishes such that with a dream job, a perfect fiancé, and a wardrobe one can only dream of. But Ani has a secret, something still buried in her past that is itching to come out and destroy the perfect life that she has worked so hard to achieve. With constant twist and turns, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the idea of what it truly means to “have it all” and what it’ll take to get there.
Why I read this book: After exploring the limited book section at my work, I noticed that the cover if this novel compares the book to Gone Girl, one of my favorite novels I read last year, so naturally, I had to give Knoll’s book a shot.
War and Peace — Leo Tolstoy
In the opening pages of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” we are caught in the temporal ease of Russia’s aristocracy, as Anna Pavlovna Scherer and Prince Vassily argue over the Napoleonic campaign, Russia’s relation to its pernicious curtain, and of the individual’s predilection – didactic, existentialist, religious – to war, to glory, to empire. It is the perennial plight of individual verses collective, and of tradition rebuking modernity. What, like other novels dealing witharisto cry such as Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Warton’s The Age of Innocence, or Mann’s The Magic Mountain, we come to see is the insularity and alienation of this social sect. It is a small world, with grandiloquent and unchanging ideals. It is the conservation, or prospect of these aspirations that, conclusively, defines “War and Peace.” Russia’s vehement contention against Napoleonic usurpation: against empire, nationalism, non-aristocracy, and reform is the bulwark of the novel. But, this too, changes. It is a battle between the aberrant.
I opine on Tolstoy’s temerity in categorically deconstructing the Russo-French relationship during the Napoleonic wars is, in itself, a superlative achievement. It allows we, the reader, to access myriad characters with juxtaposed personalities. What we can surely laud in this vastness is the elucidation of the individual. Tolstoy has a gift for plucking out heartbreak or happiness in heavous campaigns and collusive St. Peterborough parties. For example, Pierre, a bastard who inherits millions, becomes the objection of adulation amongst the Russian nobility and marries the daughter of the disenfranchised Prince Vassily: “All this had to be and could not have been otherwise… so it’s useless to ask whether it is or good or bad.” Or, say, infantryman Rostov, who, during his initial campaign, upon seeing French soldiers advancing upon him, thinks: “ ‘Can they be coming to me? Really coming to me? And why? To kill me? Me whom everyone loves?’ He recalled his mother’s love for him, the love of his family and friends, and the intention of the enemy to kill him seemed impossible.” War, without its fatuity or inanities or vagaries, is of epic scale and documentation. And peace? For Tolstoy, worthy of the same perspicuous attention, irreverence, and realism. This is the author’s lissome talent, his pulchritude, his connivance, his enormous talent.
Why I read this book: Mass. Plot. Ultimately, though, it is also its failing for the daunted. To those I say, do not relent. It is worth the effort.
Penny El Khatib
The Catcher In The Rye — J.D. Salinger
I am currently half way through The Catcher In The Rye and I have no idea what exactly this novel is about. For how popular the novel is almost no one could give me a clear answer of what the novel is about, to write give the readers of RATS some inside knowledge. All I can say is I strongly suggest you read this novel, Holden Caulfield the main character is extremely relatable and captures your teen angst from a years ago.
Why I read this book: Honestly, I just wanted to see why Hinkley went insane.