Completed my Goodreads book challenge goal in 2019 of reading 35 books! Actually read a total of 43, but some are best left forgotten. Below are my top picks for the last two months of that shockingly longgggg year:
The Library of the Unwritten
by A.J. Hackwith
Reason for Reading: Loved the concept of the book
“A lie. A dream. Good stories are both.”
I came across the Library of the Unwritten from a Goodreads recommendation and instantly fell in love with its description. The story follows Claire who is the Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing, a neutral space in Hell’s domain that houses all the works never finished by writers. When stories become restless from residing too long in the wing they can materialize and try to escape, which means Claire must go and find them as well as restore their books as escaping causes damage to the volumes.
When Claire goes after what seems like a usual “Hero” character simply trying to find its author, she gets more than she bargained for.
This is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in recent years, particularly in the young adult genre. It’s witty, captivating, and tense. Usually I can see a lot of the turns coming in these types of books, but even when I did that here I didn’t care. I cannot wait to read the rest and hope that Hackwith can keep their momentum for however long the series lasts.
Its sequel the Archive of the Forgotten should be out in October 2020.
A Ladder to the Sky
by John Boyne
Reason for Reading: November BOTM pick (previous release that I chose instead)
“Perhaps it would be a good idea if everyone just stopped writing for a couple of years and allowed readers to catch up.”
Ladder to the Sky follows the story of Maurice Swift, a man driven solely by ambition. All Swift cares about is becoming a world renowned author believing that fame will make him immortal. It will leave an indelible mark on history and make him important like all the writers he so loves. The thing is Maurice is already loved, he is the apple of everyone’s eye being beautiful and mysterious. He catches the eye of one writer Erich Ackermann who pours his life story into Maurice. Which Maurice then takes and makes into a novel called “Two Germans.” You find this out from a section told by Ackermann, and each section of the book is told by one of Swift’s “victims.” An individual who knew Swift and was somehow wronged by him.
Boyne really delves into a story about a man who is willing to stop at nothing to get what he wants, but can’t be truly satisfied by what he gets. Maurice has a way with words, but he has no creativity. No stories, no ideas, nothing flows from his mind. Everything that he writes has to be gotten from other sources, and that writers block forces him to make excuses for whatever behavior he exhibits. Yet Boyne makes no excuses for his behavior, he simply shows us it.
It’s a comic novel with lots of depth that drags you in and keeps you wanting more. I won’t sugar coat that there are several sections that I felt dragged or could’ve been cut. Of the three books highlighted it’s definitely the weakest, but even being the weakest it packs a punch.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
Reason for Reading: Recommended to me
“We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.”
This easily became one of my favorite books of all time. A.J. Fikry’s wife passed away and he’s running a failing bookstore in a small town on Alice Island. One evening a precious copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tamerlane” goes missing from his home, and soon after a young girl is left in his stacks in its place.
Originally A.J. thinks of giving her up, but soon decides that this is his chance for something more and the rest is left to be discovered. The book just breezes by. The dialogue is stellar, the prose just flows like water. Zevin has a way of showing a love of books and a love of those we care about in a way that I haven’t seen in a long time. I finished this book in a day and that rarely happens with me. It’s entertaining, but it’s content is so deep.
Check all these out! I think they’re definitely worth your time! Hoping to do some more in-depth book reviews soon and will catch you up on my January/February reads soon as well.