I’m always delighted when I find a new book that I truly love. Especially a book published within the last few years; it gives me hope for the world. Nonfiction books grow my understanding, inspirational books grow my habits, fiction books grow my joy. Here are three fiction titles I recommend.
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, 2012
I’ve mentioned this title before, but it bears repeating. Ove is the crankiest, despairingest, funniest, crustaceous man you’ll ever meet. You will recognize him – a grouchy old man trying to understand a world that has changed around him. He wields meticulous habits and old school values to compensate for so many things he doesn’t understand, can’t change, and fails at miserably.
Fredrik Backman is a brilliant writer. I’ve also read My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (which has elements of fantasy and took me two readings to understand and love), and Britt-Marie Was Here (which chronicles a woman’s search for life after leaving her unfaithful husband). My favorite thing about Mr. Backman is how he turns unlovely, unwieldy characters into heroes. He pulled the most annoying person out of My Grandmother and showcased her as the main character of Britt-Marie.
Language alert. I’ve heard that some of Mr. Backman’s later books take a steep dive into additional censorable elements, but I have not read them.
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, 2009
Aibileen is a mild black maid in Mississippi in the 1960’s. Skeeter is a rich white gentlelady who can’t please her mother. Minnie is a phenomenal black cook too prone to speaking her mind. Mrs. Celia Foote is a sickly but spirited white lady who can’t make friends. Their lives intersect through a wild idea of Skeeter’s – to write a book interviewing black maids about what it’s like working for white women.
This book is probably heading for “classic” status. The themes connected deeply with me – about the lines between black and white people, the rivalries and friendships of women, and the social mores and family expectations we all face at some level.
I found The Help abandoned on a picnic table at a park. I thought I would read it and then return it to the world, but I find I cannot; I must keep it. So I will have to return another book to the world, if I can find one on my shelf that I’m willing to part with. Suggestions?
Crow Lake, by Mary Lawson, 2002
Crow Lake tells the story of four siblings who raised themselves in the boondocks of Ontario. One daughter (Kate) has become a college professor in the city; the others (Luke, Matt, and Bo) remain in their hometown. In a mixture of present-day scenes and flashbacks, Mary Lawson describes what happened to their family – how things were, and what fell apart, and why siblings change.
What ambitions should be followed at all costs? What personalities are best suited to sacrifice? What makes a life successful?
I love the characters in this book, and the lasting lessons.
Intimacy is hinted at but not detailed.
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I am working my way through several nonfiction reads, but I’m in search of another good fiction title. What are you enjoying?