(these can be auto-buy authors, tropes you love, if an author you love blurbed it, settings, genres, etc.)
With a “to-read” list longer than my “read” list, it’s safe to say it doesn’t take much to get me interested in a book. Let me break this down a bit…
There aren’t a lot of living authors I follow. Three that do come to mind are Kazuo Ishiguro (fiction), Gavin Ortlund (Christianity), and Andrew Yang (politics). An odd and unlikely trio, yet each having a deep empathy for humanity and a heartfelt concern for issues facing us today. Ishiguro has admittedly disappointed me in recent years, but I am still holding out for another masterpiece. 😉 And I haven’t finished Yang’s newest book either. Nonetheless—if they write, I read!
Tropes I love… I am a big sucker for “the loner facing an absurd world” and Romantic landscapes. That’s why I was drawn to Henri Bosco’s Malicroix, which has both in spades. I’m also drawn towards anything psychologically driven, most recently Stefan Zweig’s Chess Story and Anita Brookner’s Look At Me.
Looking at my recent TBR books, I see a lot of nonfiction on political dissent, war, and the fourth industrial revolution, which is my catch-all category for anything vaguely to do with AI or other contemporary issues. It looks horribly pretentious, but international relations is one of my favorite topics to read and learn about. I’m not even as well versed in it as I wish I were. It’s a huge and complex topic, and maybe that’s something that attracts me to it. Everything is connected, and you’ll never get to the end of it, not if you studied your whole life!
Ok, I’m going to count that last paragraph as just one, so three more to go.
I’m drawn towards books about cold places. The Arctic, Antarctica, Alaska, you name it. With Antarctica, perhaps it’s a special type of absurdity. Nobody’s ever lived there and probably nobody ever will. I love it.
I like sci-fi before it became a genre, when some chap in 19th-century England or France decided to write a weird story in full literary style, giving the dinosaurs and the aliens the benefit of excellent prose. And they often featured some very eccentric Englishman or Frenchman, and an even sillier American or Canadian. Bring this back, I say!
Last but not least, I’ve always been fond of primary sources… diaries, journals, letters, and memoirs. I remember a rather mundane book of a founding father’s letters that captivated my interest for a while when I was in my teens. There’s a charm in the old way of writing you just don’t see anymore, and you can stumble upon cultural or historical details that may surprise you.
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