Tonight, I was talking to some friends about what types of entertainment that we enjoy (basically books and movies). One of my friends said that she loves the escapism of the Fast and the Furious movies (if you're reading this, you know who you are, haha). Another friend said that she loved dumb humor in sitcoms. We definetly bashed a few books that we had read and been disappointed with, which I took part in (but would never post about so openly online). What I do want to post very openly online, was my answer to which types of entertainment that I prefer. In particular, I want to talk about which genre of books that I've been enjoying lately.
That genre (spoiler alert, the title says it) is realistic fiction and memoirs. A few YA contemporaries, but mostly fiction that's about everyday people's lives and how they live them. There's just something that I find so beautiful about the simplicity of everyday relationships. Good realistic fiction has a way of exploring the human condition through some of the most mundane, yet complex character relationships and scenarios.
I'm in a phase right now where I crave books that strip away the melodramatics and extra fluff. Of course books should have high concepts and extreme stakes, but sometimes the most extra stake can be whether or not a friendship will weather through a period in someone's life. I think I'm so attracted to these books because they feel authentic and relevant to how I understand my own life and friendships. These "slice of life" books definetly underscore the idea of books helping to extend the reader's range of empathy.
Let's take a look at some of the books I've been reading over this spring and how they fit into this new reading trend:
I Knew You'd Be Lovely by Alethea Black fit into my reading trend perfectly; perhaps it even kicked it all off. The book of short stories focuses on real characters as they go through life struggling to connect with others.
Runaway by Alice Munro is another book of short stories that I'm almost finished listening to on audio book. This is another book that follows regular Canadians as they try to navigate life and find where they belong, even if that includes "running away" sometimes.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes wasn't exactly a realistic fiction book that looked at mundane issues, but the characters (especially the MC, Lou) felt like real people who where just trying to live life. Among the more "sensational issues" that the books dealt with (paralysis, euthanasia etc.), Lou was figuring out how to live with her family and find her career path, both incredibly real struggles. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison follows a similar pattern, but not quite as eloquently as Me Before You.
The Real Doctor will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi are both memoirs written by doctors. Although they have a specialized career, they're dealing with some of the most mundane, yet complex things: life and death. These books aren't filled with the drama of Grey's Anatomy, but instead reflect honestly on how we deal with illness. Reading about how they interact with their role of protecting and making decisions surrounding people's lives was refreshing and insightful.
Reading these books have not only helped me appreciate what we sometimes see as the boring, but they've also shown me the kind of stories that I want to write. I love a good fantastical story that helps me escape from this world, but I want to write the types of stories that help me to engage deeply with the world around me. When I write, I'm interested in looking at the everyday interactions that we have. I'm interested how regular people -not "the chosen ones," or the anti-chosen ones (the ones who have an unrealistic amounts of troubles)- search for meaning and connection.
So that's what I've been up to this Spring! I've read more books than the ones that I listed above, but I want to highlight that particular trend in my reading habits. If you want to see everything I've read, feel free to check out my Goodreads. What were some of the best books you read this Spring? Let me know what you think of this new trend of mine!
Reading: Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincet
Listening: Jon Foreman's album Sunlight and Shadows
Watching: Casey Neistat vlogs