I have other writing I need to do today, but I’m finding it difficult to transition from my outrage over undocumented immigrants being held for profit in the US, to writing about philosophy and the value of the acting person.
So instead, I’m going to take a few minutes to do a fun book meme, h/t DarwinCatholic. Here we go.
The Immediate Book Meme
There are plenty of memes that want to know all about your book history and your all-time greats and your grand ambitions, but let’s focus on something more revealing: the books you’re actually reading now, or just read, or are about to read. Let’s call it The Immediate Book Meme.
1. What book are you reading now?
A Song for Arbonne, by Guy Gavriel Kay. A story of chivalry, war, and troubadours, set in a France-like fantasy country.
2. What book did you just finish?
I think I might reread The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. I read it four years ago and found it incredibly hopeful in its description of the ways the brain adapts to trauma and changing environments. I’d like to revisit and perhaps write about some of the ideas and implications it contains.
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. A dear friend gave it to me almost two years ago, and I’ve started reading it multiple times. The slow pace and narrative style aren’t quite vivid enough to catch and keep my hummingbird-like attention span, but she speaks so highly of it that I’m determined to make my way through and find the treasure deep within that gentle prose.
The Brothers Karamazov. I’ve never gotten more than a couple pages in, and it’s a source of shame. I want to be someone who reads great works of literature, but some are more intimidating than others.
I’ve been reading a lot of complex, quasi-historically flavoured fantasy lately, much of it by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ve been enjoying fiction just escapist enough to be relaxing and provide a nice vacation from real life, but with characters, themes, and settings real and complicated enough to satisfy the intellect. I do have one requirement for my fantasy reading. I need to like the protagonist throughout. They don’t have to be perfect, and they don’t have to be faultless, and they don’t need to always do the right thing. But I read fantasy primarily for entertainment, and I’m not entertained by account of creeping moral corruption. It’s easy enough to find examples of venality and stupidity in the world around me; tell me a story about characters struggling to be true to their ideals even when it is difficult or dangerous or impossible.
7. What book do you keep meaning to recommend?
I was in seventh grade when I first read the Westmark trilogy by Lloyd Alexander. I picked it up a few years ago to reread to my children, who had already listened to the Chronicles of Narnia, the Hobbit, and some other like stories. I vaguely remembered the trilogy as an exciting fantasy story of princesses in disguise and beggar boys turned heroes, and thought it would be a fun, quick read to appeal to both my boys.
The first book went pretty much as I had expected, but then I picked up the second, the Kestrel, and things took a turn towards darker questions of revolution, morality in guerrilla warfare, civilian casualties, and how far to go to achieve a good end.
I don’t remember if we finished the third book together, but I sat down on my own afterwards and reread the entire trilogy. It is told accessibly enough, with the directness in narration that characterizes a lot of YA fiction. But I’ve never had a piece of fantasy fiction wrench my heart as hard as did the Kestrel, and the conclusion to the trilogy, the Beggar Queen, manages to pull off a satisfying conclusion without ignoring the costs incurred by the events of the previous three books.
The best short description I can muster is that this trilogy combines all of the virtues and pathos of Les Mis, in a way accessible to children as young as 10 or 11, with enough depth and thoughtfulness to satisfy an adult reader.
What are you all reading these days? I’d love to see other people’s answers to these questions. 🙂