Good Books for Good People Who Don't Read #1

 

 

I have never considered myself a reader.  Once in a blue moon I’d find a book that will pique my interest, but they were never “adult” books.  I tended towards Young Adult more often than not, and even then, I found a lot of it to be cliched, heteronormative and un-engaging (I’m looking at you, Twilight.) I guess what I’m trying to say is I read the Percy Jackson books and, aside from books I was forced to read for school, that was it.

This didn’t mean I had any sort of aversion to reading.  I’m just a picky person when it comes to the media I consume.  But I made it a mission this month to set aside time not to Youtube, but to reading adult fiction and re-establishing myself among my well read, well writ family.

This plan has lead to this series: Good Books for Good People Who Don’t Read.  As I plow through as much fiction as I can, I hope to enlighten a few people on what engaging literature is out there and worth a read.

Our first contestant:

 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (2017)

Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize in this one, quite literally.  Taking place over the course of one night, the imagination of the author is explosive and apparent in every page.  The story is an interpretation of the real-life event of the death of 11-year-old Willie Wallace Lincoln, our 16th president’s favorite son. Documents from the time period cite that Lincoln visited Willie’s tomb several times the night he was interred, so Saunders takes what information is offered and expounds upon it in a riveting story about the afterlife. He follows the format of citation, taking real works and weaving them throughout the chapters to give us, the reader, a sense of the history.  Conversely, the ghosts of this novel, think, speak, and act in citation, their little blurbs of action followed by their italicized name.  This means that the book reads really fast.  Several hundred pages took me under a week, both because the content was so interesting and because the pages were so sparsely lettered.

I checked this book out on Monday and returned it Friday morning, and immediately recommended it to anyone who would listen.  A diverse array of characters, who all speak in the style of the time period in which they died, who exhibit their sins and wants through their appearance and, surprisingly, who don’t know that they’re dead, make for a riveting read. Additionally, if you liked Hamilton, you’re basically contractually obligated to read this book.  It’s similarly a clever retelling of true historical events.  It’s a quick read, and you’ll learn a lot of Civil War history and high-level vocabulary while you’re at it.

 

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