8.03.2020

Summer Reading for the Stay-Inside Set

I don't know about anyone else out there, but I'm on pace to shatter my previous record for total books consumed in a year by the end of 2020. In an ordinary year, I might actually knock back forty-five or fifty traditional book-length works (50,000+ words on the short end, with most checking in around 80,000 words) before Christmas, with another twenty or twenty-five cookbooks mixed in for good measure. I love reading cookbooks, but that's a post for another day.

I've reached the end of my patience with Kindle Unlimited, so I have been borrowing books via the Jacksonville Public Library and purchasing odds and ends at Costco to round out my home library (If It Bleeds is good!).

As good fortune would have it, however, I encountered a pair of worthy stories in the last week that are both skillfully written and downright creepy. 

Matt and Harrison Query recently sold their tale My Wife & I Bought a Ranch to Netflix. It's a six-part tale unfolding on Reddit, and the piece has an enviable, slowly mounting tension beneath its intriguing plot. While it reads a bit like a stream-of-consciousness nightmare in places, that style is also part of its charm. The central characters (I enjoyed Dan's gritty, no-nonsense approach to discussing such absurd shenanigans) are multidimensional and believable. I enjoyed it quite a bit and read it on a stormy afternoon, which enhanced the experience a bit.

Josh Malerman is one of my favorite new authors. I was riveted by Bird Box long before it became a film sensation, and I think his serial novel Carpenter's Farm might be even better than that earlier effort. Characterization, setting, and the author's keen approach to phrasing have made this my favorite novel I've read thus far in 2020. I won't get into the text for fear of spoiling a great story, but I loved the sense of alienation and the uncanny that the author explores here. 

What's scarier, after all, then losing track of ourselves? Of our personal identity?

I hope you are well where you are. As I write this, I haven't been teaching at FSCJ on campus with any regularity in 2020. I won't be, either. We are going fully online again in the fall. While in some ways it feels like a wasted year, in others it has been revelatory. I hope for some calm and positivity in the months to come, and I look forward to brighter days ahead...

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