Now that summer has finally started for me (yes I know it’s already the end of August) hopefully the next one of these monthly reading lists will be longer… but for now I only have two recommendations.
Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang
category: science fiction
This is a… novella? Short story? Quick read, but super good! I’ve discussed this book on episode 7 of our podcast (which you should totally subscribe to), and we pretty much gushed over how great it is. Ted Chiang’s not really a conventional fiction writer, since he has a CS major and still works full-time as a technical writer, but I think that lends itself to a unique writing style that’s very refreshing. The story is about a female linguist who is helping the government to communicate with aliens – their way of thinking ends up influencing her way of thinking – as well as influencing the way the story is structured. I can’t really explain much else without giving too much away, but if you have an hour or two free, I’d highly recommend reading this! (You definitely don’t have to be a science fiction fanatic to enjoy this – I rarely read sci-fi but still found this amazing.)
A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
category: magical realism
Quick and dirty summary: a Japanese schoolgirl writes in her diary about wanting to commit suicide. Years later, an American-Canadian writer suffering from writer’s block finds her diary and tries to help her – through time?
If I’m honest, I almost put this book down halfway through because the pace was a bit slow for me. But the second half of the book definitely picks up and totally won me over!
Also, I didn’t realize this until I finished the book, but the author definitely put her own life experience in here. The writer character’s name is Ruth and her husband’s name if Oliver, and they both live in Vancouver and New York, which is the same as what the author does in real life! I guess this little tidbit doesn’t actually matter in the context of the story, but it does add a bit of magical pixie dust to this quasi-historical story!