Friday, February 17, 2012

5 Favorite Book Picks with Emily Beaver, author of Slipping Reality

Special thanks to Emily Beaver and JKSCommunicatons for this original content!

Emily Beaver's Top 5 Book Picks

5 – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
I read this book for one of my analytical papers in AP Literature, and I just couldn’t put it down. Technically this is a non-fiction book, but I felt like it was fiction with how rich the characters and descriptions were. I’m already a fan of his most famous novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but this book was written so simply and so effortlessly you can’t help but feel aligned with the characters. While much of it is focused on the murderers of the Clutter family (a historic moment in Holcomb history), the amount of research and time Capote spent with them getting to know these men is remarkable in how they open up in their seemingly motive-less crime. It certainly won’t make you fall in love with a cold-blooded killer, but it’s one heck of a perspective! I highly recommend it to people who are fascinated with how the minds work of true, once-living people and those who love a good mystery.

4 – Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
I loved this book in a ton of unexpected ways. For one thing, I almost cried reading how brilliant the writing was – which led me to rewrite Slipping Reality. Again. But for another, I loved the idea of telling Jordan’s story from multiple perspectives – the way she colored each character was so distinct I never for one moment had to think about who’s perspective I was reading. I received a copy of this book while Hillary’s agency was reviewing my manuscript, and while I was not accepted I gained great admiration for what they did and how Hillary wrote. Her simplicity in the story of an unlikely friendship between a white man and a black man who served in the same war was poetic, and how this friendship affected their families was unreal. I loved how Jordan could say the shortest, simplest sentence, and I would sit back and think, “My God, she’s right.” Mudbound is definitely a must-read for those who love history as much as I do, but more so, love the people involved.

3 – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
This book only makes my Top 5 list because of the significant experience I had reading this story. I started it one night in February 2010, and read all the way up to Susie Salmon’s gruesome death before deciding to take a break and go on Facebook. My blood almost drained from my entire system when I saw the statuses proclaiming that Chelsea King, a classmate at my high school, had gone missing. Extremely afraid of The Lovely Bones at that point, I stayed away from it as my community banded together in a heartbreakingly inspiring search for Chelsea. She had gone out on a run after school and never come home. Days later, her body was found in a shallow grave. Like Susie Salmon, she had been kidnapped and murdered.

The kind of devastation this set upon me and my community was unforgettable. A beautiful, promising, sweet and bright girl enjoying her second semester of senior year, taken from us so young by someone so evil, is unspeakable. I didn’t know Chelsea personally, but I knew a lot of people who did and were close friends with her. I felt shaken to my bones, and outraged at the blanket of terror that now rested in my town – it appeared we weren’t safe to be on our own anymore.

It was a few days later of a completely silent school and sitting with people I didn’t know, crying with them, that I spotted The Lovely Bones again. I decided to pick it up and read a little more, to see if the book would somehow give me cause to feel better.

 And remarkably, it did – getting to read Susie narrating her loved ones’ life from above, while sometimes tragic, gave me a lot of hope. While it may have not physically done anything to prevent Chelsea’s unthinkable end, it gave me a sense of justification that she was okay, and by extension, so was my brother.

I don’t know if I can ever read it again, but I do know that beyond my personal side story to my journey with this book, the writing is beautiful, and well worth a good sit down and read.

2 – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
While I’m not quite keen on following in all of the footsteps of Sylvia Plath, I absolutely adore her writing. Her semi-biographical Bell Jar reminded me a lot of Slipping Reality, especially because at one point I remember reading the book, looking up and realizing, “Wait a minute… this chick is crazy.” The magic of Plath’s writing is how she pulls you in to her story, and because of how artfully she executed Esther Greenwood’s downward spiral, I didn’t even realize the insanity was taking over her, much as how Esther didn’t realize it herself. A haunting, unforgettable book.

1 – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Hands down, this book is my favorite of them all. I read abridged versions of it from five years old, and read the full version for the first time at ten. I’ve never had a sister, but Little Women made me feel like I had one in the March family. My first childhood crush was on Theodore Laurence, the rambunctious but kind boy-next-door, and my first real heroine was Jo March, who, like me, aspired to write and act and be something extraordinary. This book resonates with me because it doesn’t seek out telling any story but the one of family. In days where I’d have temper tantrums or Matthew would be too ill to speak, I’d dissolve into the March family and feel at home again. It’s a very light, very easy read for a book so old, but it never fails to cheer me up when I need it.


Related Posts with Thumbnails