The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is the starting point. Now I haven’t read The Luminaries, nor do I have any particular desire to. I know that it’s been widely hailed as wonderful and won tons of awards, but the subject matter just doesn’t really interest me and it’s a total chunkster.
So let’s go to chunksters that I actually have read and that I wanted to love so much but just didn’t. The obvious choice in this category is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Reading this book was a bucket list life goal. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack to the musical since at least 1985. It was one of the first CDs I ever owned. I love the movies. I loathed this book. It was a little devastating.
So, speaking of my childhood – we all have those books that we read and re-read relentlessly while we were kids. One of mine was definitely A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. I can also tie this back to devastation because the other books in this series are just not nearly as good as the first one.
A Wrinkle in Time is middle grade sci-fi at its best, so another piece of science fiction that had a profound impact on me was Contact by Carl Sagan. It’s influenced my thinking as a skeptic, a humanist, and a generally science-minded person. The movie was pretty boring, try the book – I promise it will leave you thinking.
Since we’re talking about books that make you think, you know I have to bring up Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber. It’s a gorgeous memoir by an unlikely spiritual leader in the Lutheran church. It’s filled with so much love that it warmed even this atheist’s cold cold heart. It’s truly one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.
While we’re chatting about surprisingly beautiful books I think that Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half deserves some credit. Hyperbole and a Half speaks about depression and social anxiety with such humor, but still remains powerful an true to the very serious and important subject matter. It’s so much more than just a blog turned book.
Let’s end with another piece on mental health. I think it should be a must read for everyone. It’s Darkness Visible: A Memior of Madness by William Styron. It’s very very short, but gives an extremely accurate and powerful portrayal of what it’s like to live with clinical depression.
So! From The Luminaries to Darkness Visible in six easy steps! Do you want to play? I know you do! Here’s how:
Where would you go from The Luminaries, Reader? Maybe you’ve actually read it?