9 BOOKS THAT SWALLOWED ME WHOLE BY JORDAN TURNER
As an owner of a bookstore, founder of a menswear fashion blog, and full-time Libra, nothing holds my attention more than an opulent and poetic fiction book. Now, given our current global circumstances, I’ve been able to chip-away at my never ending pile of reads next to my bed.
This article is not to lecture you to use your time in isolation to take up reading. I rather hope to inspire you with choices of books that took over every part of my being.
In this list you will find controversial novels that provoke discussions on political topics, multi-generational plot lines wrapped around true history, and a particular work of fiction that is as emotionally traumatic as it is hopeful.
Most of all, I hope that you'll lose yourself in one of these books. If you’re lucky enough, you might find yourself in there too.
AMERICAN DIRT, JEANINE CUMMINS
Released this year, American Dirt is an exhilarating, visceral novel that follows bookstore-owner Lydia as her comfortable life changes in an instant. She is forced to flee her home in Mexico with her 8 year old son, become a migrant, and begin a life-or-death journey to cross the Mexico-US border. It’s limitless, and layered with the stories of other migrants. This controversial novel has sparked immense conversation and questions about immigration in the US. You’ll want to finish the entire book in one sitting after reading the first chapter.
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, PAUL KALANTHAI
A memoir that gave me wet eyes in the prologue. It is moving to the point of devastation. Paul Kalanthai was on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. Kalanthai’s writing is poetic, and unlike anything I’ve read before. He details his life from taking so much for granted, to when breath becomes air. I will forever wonder what he would have created in a career as an author.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, OSCAR WILDE
This is the novel of vanity and opulence, a story of art and sin - a literary classic. I am fascinated by characters who have uncontrollable power on their surroundings, purely derived from how beautiful they are. We first see Dorian Gray as his innocent self, but - as quoted in the novel - “he grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul.” Wilde’s flowery, colourful language is as enamouring as Mr. Gray himself. This book is a must for the fashion world.
FIFTEEN DOGS, ANDRE ALEXIS
This novel is contemporary fiction at it’s finest. It begins as Greek God’s Hermes and Apollo, in human form, have a drunken argument in a dive bar. The concept they can’t agree on is whether animals would live happier lives than humans if they had the same intelligence. They then grant 15 dogs human consciousness. The novel follows the group of dogs as they create a language, systems, and hierarchy. It’s a short, but oh so sweet read.
THE TESTA-MENTS, MARGARET ATWOOD
After almost 35 years since it was originally published, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is here. The Testaments was nominated for, and later won, the Man Booker Prize award before it had even been released. It is a book I could not put down, and one that I read within 24 hours. I refuse to provide any plot details for this in fear of spoilers, but if you want to know how The Handmaid’s Tale ends, then look no further.
THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, SUE MONK KIDD
I grew up as the only male in the house of three incredible strong women; my Mother, my Grandmother, and Sister. The Secret Life of Bees is described as a novel of divine female power, which may be why I loved reading this so much. After Lily leaves the racist home she once knew, you - as the reader - will find yourself enchanted, empowered and mesmerized with the three beekeeping sisters. I’ve never looked at honey the same since I’ve read this book - it’s now seen with a smile on my face and twinkle in my eye.
PACHINKO, MIN JIN LEE
An epic family saga based on true history that follows four generations of a Korean family from the end of the 1800s to present day. It is unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s kind, and polite, yet dramatic things will happen in one sentence which will leave you gasping for air. This was my favourite book I read last year. The first few pages had me unsure, but as soon as I read the final sentence of the first chapter I knew that this was something special.
PLACES I STOPPED ON THE WAY HOME, MEG FEE
As a hopeless romantic, a dweller in my own consciousness of thought, and a long time lover of the great New York City, this book spoke wonders to me. This is Meg Fee’s collection of essays of chaos and grace in the big apple. She shares accounts of her past relationships, journey of mental health, and the resilience needed to live in the city that never sleeps. What I loved most about this book is that she always learnt something about herself from everything she faced.
A LITTLE LIFE, HANYA YANAGIHARA
This is my most favorite book of all time. A novel that will ruin you in one fell swoop. A Little Life follows the codependency of four friends in New York City over the course of their lives. As an author, Yanagihara promised to write the story as it was meant to be written - a story that is as harrowing as it is hopeful. It is epic. It is traumatic. And it will forever be one of the most incredible works of fiction you will ever read.
MORE BOY! INCOGITO
© BOY! Incognito 2020