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Book Talk

(ROCKWALL, TX — March 27, 2018) At the beginning of the year, I set a new reading challenge for myself on Goodreads to read 15 books by year’s end.

I’ll admit that’s not a lot of books, and while there’s almost nothing I enjoy more than reading, I’m a particularly slow reader and will never rush to finish any book, unless I get so absorbed in the plot and characters that I simply can’t stop turning the pages. I’ve read a few of those this year already, including one which grabbed me from start to finish and left me wanting more.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Jeff VanderMeer’s “Annihilation” – the first book in his Southern Reach trilogy – I highly recommend you drop whatever you’re doing and get your hands on a copy right now. This intense book follows a team of four women (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X, a mysterious region abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization. While I’ll probably never be as fast of a reader as my wife (we bought the book late in the day and she read through the entire thing later that evening), “Annihilation” had me turning pages quickly with its intriguingly mysterious setting and first-person, journal entry-style narration. I’ve heard the movie is very different from the book, which is a bit disappointing if you’re like me and favor those films which stick as close as possible to their literary counterparts’ original plot points and characters. All the same, I think I’ll enjoy the movie once I actually get around to watching it.

Another book I read this year that I would recommend to any literary enthusiast is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Don’t let the odd title fool you; it’s a very good read which is written as a series of letters and takes place in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

The story follows novelist Juliet Ashton, who finds the subject for her next book in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native from the island of Guernsey. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends who are members of a book club called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which they formed as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when they were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island. Through correspondence with the society’s members, Juliet learns about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives.

The way the narrative is told through the back-and-forth written correspondence between its characters really brings out their eccentric personalities and made me begin to care deeply about the natives of Guernsey and the trials they went through during the German occupation of their island. The book drags on a bit longer than it should, but the depth and wonderfully humorous qualities of the characters definitely made it a memorable read.

I’m looking forward to reading some of the newer releases on my list this year, including the historical fantasy “The Philosopher’s Flight” by ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller. Others on my list are “The Lucky Ones” by Tiffany Reisz, “Bring Me Back” by B.A. Paris, “The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert, “Self-Portrait with Boy” by Rachel Lyon, and one I’m especially hyped to read, “The Chalk Man” by C.J. Tudor.

What’s on your reading list this year? I’m always looking for suggestions on books to read, so feel free to shoot me an email and let’s talk books!

Austin Wells


I have been the editor of Blue Ribbon News since April 2016. I was born and raised in Heath, TX and I’m the author of Images of America: Heath, a chronicle of historic photographs of my town’s roots.
When I’m not around town covering events, you can usually find me enjoying a good book and a hot cup of coffee.



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