I’m always down to shout about under-shouted books, so this week’s That Artsy Reader Girl TTT topic is one of my favorites. I know that I’m definitely a culprit of constantly yelling about the same books, so I’m going to do my best to only include books on this list that I’ve never talked about or have rarely talked about.
I was actually fortunate enough to have Jaed Coffin as a visiting professor at my school, and he taught our nonfiction class. I read A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants after his class and immediately fell in love. I recently gifted it to my brother for Christmas because it’s exactly the kind of story he would enjoy. It’s a memoir about Coffin’s time traveling back to Thailand to train to become a Buddhist monk when he was feeling lost in the rest of his life.
I definitely shouted briefly about You Must Change Your Life by Rachel Corbett way back when I first read it, but I haven’t shouted about it since then, and that was in 2018, so it’s time we revisited how this nearly made my Top 10 for the year. There was not a single page in this book that I did not love wholeheartedly. It tells the story of the friendship between Auguste Rodin, well-renowned sculptor, and Rainer Maria Rilke, my absolute favorite poet. It’s a moving piece about sorrow and loss, the yearning to create, and living in a time when art was very rarely respected.
I haven’t read a Dalai Lama book in a long time, thus why I haven’t shouted about one in a long time, but My Spiritual Journey is probably my favorite of his that I’ve read. It’s also one of the more difficult ones because it describes the harrowing things he’s gone through simply by being who he is. I hold His Holiness fondly in my heart, and the idea of anyone thinking ill of him, never mind doing something bad to him, just breaks my heart, especially hearing it from his perspective.
I recently reread The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, and let me tell you, I enjoyed it just as much the second time as I did the first. It’s truly one of my favorite books from childhood, and it sparked a huge, and now deeply entrenched, love of Venice in me. It was definitely the reason I pursued Italian in high school, and I hope that someday I can run through the streets with a beaked mask pretending to be Scipio. This tells the story of a bunch of young orphans and their thief lord as they take on Venice and a magical mystery.
Grab some tissues for The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon because it will crush you. It discusses concentration camps in Australia, but in a way you’re not expecting. I honestly wouldn’t have pieced together that they were concentration camps without the summary until the end, and that makes it even more heartbreaking. The characters in this are outstanding, and I just want to scoop all of them up and protect them from the world.
Finally, a fantasy! I honestly don’t really see anyone talking about Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier, or the sequel that came out last summer, which I don’t understand because it’s incredible. It’s totally a book that I think most book bloggers I follow would absolutely adore. It’s superbly written, and the characters are some of my favorite. I mean, a stubborn king in his 20s that occasionally races off on a horse to go help his cartographer best friend, but is also super regal? THANK YOU. Not only does this have a mystery that involves maps, but it takes place on a very interesting island, and most, if not all, of the characters are POC.
I’m sensing a theme here–the books that I don’t often talk about are nonfiction. I’m going to have to make an effort to change that. I’m not even certain you’d classify Anam Cara by John O’Donohue as nonfiction, and I did actually just talk about this book on St. Patrick’s Day, but here we are. This is one of my favorite magic/philosophy books, and I think about it in my daily witchy life all the damn time. O’Donohue has a truly unique way with words, and the Celtic story that he wields is both powerful and beautiful.
So, when it was announced that there would be a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, I nearly died. I was a little nervous, but mostly over the moon excited. My eventual reaction to it was pretty clear: I threw it in the trash, no even the recycle, and burst into tears. When it was announced that Arundhati Roy was going to be releasing her first novel in over 20 years, I was straight up terrified. The God of Small Things is one of my favorite books of all time. I’m not even sure how to describe why it’s one of my favorites, just that it sits firmly in my heart and soul and will never go away. Thankfully, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Roy’s sophomore novel, was really excellent. It didn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but I don’t think anything ever will.
Can more people PLEASE read Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor and shout about it so we can get a third novel, pleeeeeeeease! Guys! It’s literally Scotland! Time travel! 1800s! Anxiety rep! Romance! Angst! It’s! so! good! This another book, like Isle of Blood and Stone, that I’m not honestly sure why more people don’t shout about? The sequel was fantastic, as well, and I really need y’all to get on board with this.
And rounding out this list is one last fantasy–Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser. Look, this duology has it all. A badass female pirate MC who wants desperately to be able to speak to her people’s river gods. A stubborn, too handsome for his own good prince who’s caught up in several assassination attempts on his life. DRAGONS. Easily one of the most satisfying conclusions ever. And one of the best opening lines ever. I’m not going to spoil it. You’ll just have to go read it and see for yourself.