The Book Room Series: 1
Welcome to the Book Room! (Which is not really a thing, but just what I decided to name this series of book recommendation posts I’m going to start from now on). As a writer and a poet, of course, I love to read. I remember all the inspiration in my youth and for my writing stemmed from my love of reading books. I was that kid that kept reading in the dark when my mom turned off the lights for bed (and yes, as a result I now wear glasses). From classics like Wuthering Heights and Peter Pan, to A Great and Terrible Beauty, to the Hunger Games trilogy, to Dracula, to Pablo Neruda’s poetry, I was always reading. I would eat up books the way one would breathe in air, constantly and excitedly. I loved getting lost in a new story, in another life, in another country, and becoming so immersed that I felt the loss after turning that final page. There are countless stories that affected me, that stayed with me long after I’d finished the last chapter, and it was that feeling, that you had truly traveled and felt things without ever leaving your room, that I loved. For an imaginative 13-year-old girl who dreamt of traveling the world, finding her Mr. Darcy, and wanted adventure, reading was the perfect way of losing yourself and finding yourself all at once. It’s what began my love of writing, and my love of everything really, of viewing the world through different eyes.
I actually hadn’t had much time to read in the past few years, but last year I made it a priority to sit down and take the time to read a full book. What a treat! It made me remember all of my youth spent sitting in corners reading and reading until my eyes ached. I told myself I would take the time to do little, simple things that brought me joy, like reading, at least once a month. The list of books I’ve curated for you are books I’ve read between last year and this one (because if I had to choose out of all the books I’ve read in my life, it would be a very long list). So, without further ado, listed below are my book recommendations for the month, narrowed down to my top three in both the poetry and novel sections.
Book of Twilight by Pablo Neruda.
Pablo Neruda is my favorite poet. My FAVORITE. I’m always recommending and referring people over to his work because he is amazing. I first stumbled upon one of his poetry books in Santiago, Chile when I was 15. I was visiting my family and we were at a museum on that particular day. My mom picked a book off the shelf of the museum’s gift shop and told me to read it because I would love it. I read the poem on the first page and instantly fell in love. I spent the rest of the day trying to make excuses and find ways to slip back into the guest room to finish the book. That day began a love story that never ended. Book of Twilight is one of Neruda’s first books, written at a young age, and is full of the beautiful, expressive, and metaphorical language he’s known for. The things he writes and the way he writes them just have a way of slipping into your soul and settling there. I make it a habit to buy every book of his in whatever book store I walk into and it was a pleasant surprise when I stumbled upon this book at Barnes & Noble. It’s not too long and the poems are short, so it’s an easy book to read in one sitting.
2. New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver.
Mary Oliver has quickly climbed her way and settled into second place in my list of favorite poets. Mary is great. She has such a clear and beautiful way of looking at nature. Most of her poems are in reference to nature, comparing things to nature, or musings amongst nature. For those who prefer love or other types of poetry, don’t be fooled. Mary is an exquisite writer and reaches deep into thoughts, into the way things work, and has such lovely, descriptive words. I always sit back and think after reading her poetry. It gives me an appreciation for life, for the things around me, and most of all, inspires me to write.
3. Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better by Madisen Kuhn.
This book was such an unexpected treat. I bought it last year and read it on a work flight to Chicago in one sitting. I found the book to be so relatable and felt that Madisen was speaking right to me. I’ve always been an anxious person and in situations of stress, that anxiety is heightened. I’d been feeling that anxiety and stress when I read her book last year. You know how they say books find you when they’re meant to find you? (I don’t think anyone actually says that, I just made it up). Well, this book was meant to find me when it did. Dealing with topics of love, anxiety, and just every day thoughts, Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better describes a woman trying to find her way in the world while trying to control her anxious manner of handling things. It does have a happy ending and is really just about her journey through this period in her life. I definitely enjoyed it and think any girl that can relate would enjoy it as well.
4. The Incarnations by Susan Barker.
Where do I begin with this one? First off, this novel is amaaazing! It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I loved it. For me, it was one of those books that stayed with me long after I’d turned the last page and kept the wheels of my imagination constantly turning. The story is about a taxi driver in Beijing who finds a letter in his cab one day from someone claiming to be his soulmate. What follows is a series of letters from his soulmate describing every reincarnation and every life that they have lived together. The story jumps around from past to present based on the stories in the letters and gives a vivid image of China’s history throughout the centuries. The book deals with themes of revenge, loss, love, heartbreak, and the cycle of mistakes that these two souls continue to make in every life that they meet. It can be very intense and very gruesome at some parts, for example there are very violent scenes, but still a worthy read. It’s very deep, very descriptive, very thoroughly researched, very imaginative, and just such a good read overall. I think it’s truly a unique vision that Susan has brought to life and one of my favorite books.
5. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
I loved this book because it was a very different take on love than the one I’m used to. The story is about an unfaithful man named Thomas and his wife Theresa. Despite his love for her, he can’t stop his womanizing ways. It also deals with the life of his mistress and his mistress’s lover. Being a doctor, Thomas views the world in a scientific, philosophical, and practical manner. He weighs lightness vs. heaviness, the soul and the body, and so on. It combines politics, ideas, comedy, emotions, and choices. Mostly, it outlines what it means to be human, including all the selfishness, love, and tragedy that comes with it. If you enjoy thinking about choices and the ideas behind connections, this is the book for you.
6. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.
Sharp Objects is a gritty, psychological crime drama about a journalist investigating a story that takes her back into the hell of her hometown. The story is about Camille, who is sent back to her hometown to write a story on a series of murders occurring to young girls in the area. Covering the story sends Camille into the heart of a place with painful memories and forces her to spend time with her mother, who she has a very bad relationship with. What follows is a downward spiral into discovering the truth, discovering family secrets, and trying to keep her sanity together. This story stayed with me long after I read it because it was so shocking. If you’re looking for a good, suspenseful crime story, this is the book for you.