Really! You may not believe it by looking at my blog posts over the last two years, but I do enjoy some time to pursue the other things I love. By “some time” I mean the 30 minutes before I go to sleep each night, and by “the other things I love”, I am really just referring to books. There are lots of other things I love to do, but 30 minutes a day is not enough time to do them all. Faced with the choice, I have chosen my love of books and reading to fill my small chunk of “me” time.
What books have been feeding my imagination these days? Safe to say they are all in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I mean, who wants to escape into a story about reality? Give me a big dose of wizards and magic and different worlds instead!
Here are some of my favorites.
Anything by Neal Stephenson is a winner in my book. He truly has a gift for creating characters – characters that I love and that I want to be (or at least be friends with). I could go on and on about the characters I loved in each of his books, but by far, my favorites were found in Anathem. Imagine a bunch of innocent, young, math geeks saving the world! They’re fresh, they’re smart, they fall in love and aspire to great things. And even better, they’re from a parallel universe. This book makes me nostalgic for high school, but it also reminds me that mathematics and philosophy are actually pretty interesting and fun topics. I sort of wish I was a bigger math geek after reading this book. In fact, that is my second favorite thing about Stephenson – he makes “geekiness” cool.
That is the proper name, but I call them The Game of Thrones books. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, you must be living under a rock. Even Mike Sinkula knows about these books, and has even considered reading them. You may sense the beginning of a trend when I say that the characters in these books are the main draw. Martin draws you into his gruesome, tragic world by giving you an ever-changing cast of heroes and villains. As the characters develop, you start to love those you once despised, and vice versa. Everyone is a genuine blend of good and evil, of honor and selfishness. The ever-changing political dynamics, the looming threat of Winter, and the hope that something good will eventually happen to someone are what keep you hanging on. That is why no one can stop reading these books, despite the lack of happy endings.
This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and I was thrilled to find it so hard to put down. It is the story of a young man and woman, bound to be rivals in a magical contest, though they end up competing for each other’s regard rather than for the win. The venue of this contest is an unusual circus that is only open at night, full of mystery and magic. This tale is told in the most beautiful and mesmerizing language, and creates for the reader a playhouse of imagination and wonder. In fact, it was recommended as an audiobook, and once I began reading, I could hear the narration in my mind, telling me this magical story as I my imagination tried to keep up. For a sneak peak of the audio, see this blog post by the author.
“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your word.” -The Night Circus
“…and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” -A Game of Thrones