National Novel Writing Month will be ending later this week and by that time countless writers across the country will have finished their 50,000-word works of art. Last year saw over 400,000 participants according to the National Novel Writing Month’s (NaNoWriMo) website, and 2018 it seems will not be any different.
During the month of November, students, cashiers, doctors, mechanics and many more people from all walks of life were encouraged to start writing their novels with the aid of thousands of best-selling authors and libraries around the world. Here at The Michigan Times, our stories rarely surpass 1000 to 2000 words and do not focus on magical beasts, life-changing odysseys across space or enchanted schools. That being said, all of our staff members are avid readers and rarely pass the opportunity to talk about a good book. Here are some staff picks for everyone to check out no matter the time of year:
11/22/63 by Stephen King–Recommended by Will Stuart
11/22/63, written by Stephen King, is more of a thriller than the usual horror story. The book is set in 2011 and tells the story of Jake Epping, a high school teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine. After having dinner at his favorite diner, owner and friend Al Templeton disappear for exactly two minutes. On his return, he seems to have aged many years and now is seemingly very sick.
He tells Jake that within his storage closet lies a portal to the past: to 1958. He explains that he has been on a continuous mission to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He insists Jake continue on with the mission but warns him that the past doesn’t like to be changed and that it will fight back. Al seems to think the past has caused his sickness.
With only his wits and his knowledge of the future, Jake steps into the past to correct one of the biggest wrongdoings of the twentieth century. He must live and blend within the past for five years for his chance to change it. What will he find? Love? Conspiracy? Espionage?
This novel is a fantastic read. At over 1,000 pages, I never felt exhausted as each page encouraged me to read more. It’s a retelling of history from the perspective of a man out of time made me feel as though it was me who was sent to the past. King has woven aspects of horror, science fiction, thriller, romance and comedy into one of the greatest stories ever written.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty–Recommended by Makenzie Schroeder
Like shattered glass, seemingly perfect lives are often too fragile for their flawless image not to eventually shatter. In the case of Madeline, Celeste and Jane, this holds true. All mothers from different backgrounds and pasts crafted by Liane Moriarty in her novel, Big Little Lies, the three come together to form an unlikely bond with surprises no one saw coming. Featuring some suspense, shock, admiration, and inspiration, Big Little Lies leaves readers hoping for a sequel.
Celeste, an ex-lawyer with an abusive husband, wrestles to raise twin boys while coming to the conclusion it’s time to leave. Madeline, who sends her children to Pirriwee Public School alongside the twins, struggles to cope with her eldest daughter from a previous marriage (that didn’t end well) getting closer to her stepmom, Bonnie. Ziggy, Jane’s son, also attends school with Celeste and Madeline’s children. After moving to this coastal town, Jane finds solace in the other mothers all while coping with memories from her past.
Tying themselves in a web of secrets and scandal, all three women, along with a few more characters that readers meet along the way, grapple with their own lives and how they connect in unexpected ways. Will the trio be able to overcome their demons and face the future, or will their seemingly small lies become too big to bear?
Delirium by Lauren Oliver–Recommended by Bella Biafore
Delirium, a New York Times best-selling novel by Lauren Oliver, explores a dystopian world where love is a disease and the government is looking to cure its citizens of it. You follow along with the story of a 17-year-old girl named Lena Haloway as she navigates through her world, fearful of getting a procedure done that will cleanse her of her ability to love.
The life waiting after the procedure is a dull, average lifestyle where you are matched with another cured person to share an emotionless future together. However, during Lena’s procedure, something goes terribly wrong in the facility and she makes eye contact with a boy who we are later introduced to as Alex.
Lena is forced to come back and redo her procedure when things in the facility are taken care of. During that time she cautiously gets to know Alex, where she ultimately ends up falling in love with him.
Delirium keeps you on your toes, with plot twists at every turn and adventure around every corner. Alex and Lena bring you along on their secret love affair and invite you into their most intimate moments together. If you’re a fan of forbidden loves and dystopian societies, Delirium will fulfill all your needs. And as if that isn’t enough, the novel is a trilogy followed by Pandemonium and Requiem that continues the story of Alex and Lena’s ongoing life together.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez–Recommended by Santiago Ochoa
Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Nobel prize-winning masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude is a must-read.
In the midst of Colombia’s colonial era, José Arcadio Buendía and his wife Ursula Iguaran leave their hometown of Riohacha in search of a new home. While sleeping one night, a dream of a city of mirrors comes to Jose Arcadio. Following this dream, he decides to found the city of Macondo on a riverside. At first, Macondo is a Utopia. Jose Arcadio spends his days toiling in his makeshift lab looking to make gold from lead and pondering life’s meaning. All the while the town and his children grow.
While the book is bursting with fantastical characters and events, it is the almost liquid-like flow of time that gives it character. Over the course of seven generations of Buendias, the reader sees how all of Macondo’s children are doomed to repeat their ancestor’s own transgressions, serving almost as the mirrors of Jose’s dream. During this time, Colombia’s own history begins to take a grip over the relatively isolated town. A civil war breaks out, capitalists take a hold of its industry and a railroad spells the death of the town.
It is only in his last moments of life that Aureliano Buendia, the last of the Buendia bloodline, deciphers a century-old text that predicts all of Macondo’s events. Upon this realization, a tropical hurricane blows away Aureliano along with the rest of Macondo, destroying all traces of the town’s existence in the process.
One Hundred Years of Solitude created a landmark moment in Latin American literature that brought Colombia’s history to the forefront of the art form. It ultimately tells the tale of a newly freed society once again falling captive. Not to the Spanish royalty this time around but to the rampant spread of capitalism, showing once again how, sometimes, history is doomed to repeat itself.
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald–Recommended by Donald Lierman
Believe me, I have not been so fortunate as to wallow in the abyss of hopeful sentimentality. My reality more closely patterns the paradigm of Paul Baumer reaching for that elusive butterfly, extending just beyond my reach and ending up on the wrong end of love’s labor.
So when assigned Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, my first impression was “oh, not another love story among the bloody well-to-do.” However, I was gobsmacked by the tale of the ebb and flow of attraction in this lost-generation twist on the danse macabre of relational dialectics. This book weaved the dynamics of belief and despair in a manner that belies the setting.
Sometimes, there is a tendency to fall into a generational gap as troops of one era have a difficulty finding empathy with the possibility that those who came before could possibly experience the same intensity as they now perceive. Well, if this book doesn’t change your perspective, go back to your cathode perceptions and feel that all that pertains to passion resides within the genuflections of the two-backed beast.
I will pray for you to Freya and Aine. As for me, I dare not believe in a world where sentiment is defined by conquest. I will open a volume of the Great Buk, drain a beer and attempt to ponder those things which I refuse to believe have passed.