I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently. I completely failed to read more than two books for the last book challenge I participated in and the piles of books growing in my home seem to mock me with all their unread pages. I’ve felt paralysed by choice. Being unable to chose what to read next has left me not reading at all and then feeling guilty for all that time I’ve wasted of the scant few years I have as a human being to read all the books!
So, when I caught up with a friend recently and she handed me over a book saying I had to read this, I put it to the top of my pile…and looked at it for a week. I bought a new bookshelf, then, donated a whole bunch of books that I’ve read in exchange for more book credit (which I promptly spent for more books), and after this extended book procrastination, I picked up All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and began to read.
Charlie Jane Anders has quite a few fingers in quite a few awesome pies. In fact, my partner had mentioned this book to me a few months ago as something he wanted to check out since he’d an avid follower of the science fiction blog io9, which Anders founded and co-edits.
What I love most about this book is the uncanny valley it presents in terms of setting. It starts in our present, following the lives of two children, Patricia and Laurence, who grow up into an uncomfortable and, at times, disturbing future. What makes it disturbing is how close it is to our here and now, except everything is just a little off. It emphasises the dystopian aspects of our current society - the invasion of privacy, the lack of faith in governments, and over population to name a few - and takes it that extra step that brings the narrative right to the brink of an apocalypse.
Except the characters, for the most part, are focused on their own lives and relationships even as the threat of the end of the world hovers over them and they’re forced into playing roles that appear destined from the beginning. There’s a lovely blending of magic and science that I want to see more of in fiction, and at times the narrative almost mocks itself, especially the introduction of Mr Rose.
I’m grateful for my friend for handing me this book as I feel as if the great book drought has ended. I’m now reading Jay Kristoff’s LIFEL1K3 - another book given to me by a writing group friend … really, where would we be without our book buddies? - and I’m ready to kick start another book challenge in July.
We’ve all been here, the dread of what to read next and deciding it’s easier to just play a computer game or watch TV. So what book have you read that’s kickstarted your reading again?