I’m Thinking of Ending Things

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is, to my knowledge, the first novel Iain Reid has written. Considering the slow-building, expertly-employed suspense, one would think this was a far more experienced writer.

The story follows an unnamed woman who is visiting her boyfriend Jake’s family farm for the first time. It follows the drive out into the country and meeting his parents. The entire time, the main character repeats the thought “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”, as she plans to break up with Jake shortly after.

This was my most recent read, something that had been on my to-read list for quite some time, and I found it generally enjoyable. Majority of the book is quite a slow-burn, full of interesting inner dialogue from the main character. The ending, which I will not divulge here, is thought-provoking and, despite being somewhat clunky, it touches on some very relevant themes.

If you like suspense, I would recommend it. It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat, building on small discrepancies and oddities within the story to leave the reader with an unsettling feeling of unease.

For full review (including spoilers):

5 Favorite Holiday Books

I’m starting to get into the holiday spirit which, for me, usually means 3 things: baking, playing music, and reading.

Reading! There is something about this time of year that makes reading better. The coziness, time off, warm beverages, avoiding family… all of these factors seem to contribute to an improved reading situation.

Anyway, I thought I’d share my favorite holiday books. They aren’t all “holiday-themed”, but they are books I consistently reach for this time of year.

1. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Hilarious and relatable, this is the perfect holiday book to me. It includes both fiction and non-fiction, so it is well-balanced. Bonus that the stories are short, so it can easily be picked up and put down between festivities.

My personal favorite? The SantaLand Diaries, which recounts Sedaris’ time spent working as a Macy’s holiday elf.

2. You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs

All autobiographical stories presented with an intensely dark humor that is all too appropriate for the holiday season. Indeed, the humor is so dry, one sometimes wonders if it is dehydrated. One of the highlights is The Best and Only Everything, which deals with a boyfriend’s HIV diagnosis and goes deeper than many of the other stories.

3. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This might be more of a personal pick, but I always find myself drawn to Sherlock Holmes stories in the colder months. While Volume 1 and Volume 2 are both excellent, Volume one is my preference because it contains The Sign of the Four. The Sign of the Four is a favorite of mine because it has such a great, winding plot, that unravels wonderfully. Perfect book to settle into with a cup of tea on a winter morning.

4. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien (or the Father Christmas Letters)

There is not too much to say about these except that they are sweet and whimsical. Tolkien wrote these letters from Father Christmas to his children and they were put into a collection after his death. The stories are really just about Father Christmas and his Polar Bear helpers and are a great read for the entire family, in my opinion. If you are already a Tolkien fan, you will enjoy them even more.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I mean, it’s Harry Potter. I’m not sure I need to elaborate too much. Why for Christmas? I think the first book in particular paints a lovely Christmas at Hogwarts where Harry feels as though he has a place to call home and loved ones for the first time. Plus, he discovers the mirror of Erised and that becomes a good lesson for both the reader and Harry.

These are some of my favorites that I always pick up this time of year, but I would be interested to hear what some other favorites are!

Shinjuku Gyoen

“Not just beautiful, though — the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.” – Haruka Murakami

I found this quote and it just described this walk perfectly – the quiet park, chilly air, and arboreal surroundings. Almost as if the trees are watching you back.

Beartown

I’ve been reading a new book! I went to a really cool local bookstore and found the book Beartown by the author Frederik Backman. I was immediately excited because I read A Man Called Ove by the same author, which I really liked (and highly recommend, though it is a tearjerker).

Beartown has not disappointed! The novel takes place in a small Swedish town that is centered around the local hockey team. The story follows the general manager of the hockey team, his family, the players, and the local residents. Beartown has seen more people and jobs leave, forgotten by the rest of the country.

The book begins with a semblance of hope, but it is cast with a dark shadow. As Beartown pins their dreams to the local hockey team, the lives of those involved are picked apart, good and bad.

I have found the thing I like most about Backman’s writing is that he manages to delve into the emotions of his characters in an almost matter-of-fact way. I don’t know why i enjoy this quality so much, but it seems to strike an emotional chord in me.

I won’t spoil the plot line for you, but I enthusiastically recommend this book and think it is at least as remarkable and expressive as A Man Called Ove, perhaps even more.

Stranger Than Fiction

I realize this is odd to say, but I have never read a book by Chuck Palahniuk. Now, I am aware of the well-known writing he has produced (Fight Club and Choke are wildly popular), I’ve just never gotten around to reading any of it. Perhaps these stories just didn’t entice me the same way other books have, or maybe it was pushed down the priority list of reading.

Then I was in a bookstore, perusing any and everything, and I came across Stranger Than Fiction. Instead of a bizarre plot, it is bizarre stories and I ate them up like a ravenous teenager. The essays are non-fiction and vary quite a bit regarding topics. The commonality? They are all strange.

Now, ahead there are some mild spoilers.

My favorite had to be Confessions in Stone, which chronicled three different American men who were building modern-day castles. It was funny and quirky, but also just odd enough to keep turning the pages.

While some of the stories were a bit raunchy, such as Testy Festy (the opening essay that describes a testical festival near Missoula, Montana), the book is overall worth the read.

Since the subject matter is so strange and humorous, it is a great book to pick up after work or before bed because it isn’t heavy or frightening. For myself, I am now quite excited to read another book by Palahniuk!