Inevitably, this “What I’m Reading” update turns into a review of what I actually just finished. So be it. I finished two memorable books this week. N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is an astounding work of sci-fi/fantasy that I’m ashamed took me this long to start reading. Jemisin is a generational talent and I’m so thrilled to have started my relationship with her as a writer. The Fifth Season appealed to me not only as a genre fan (which I am) but in every reading sense too. Cheryl is going to read it next and I’m curious about her reaction. There is an extensive and intriguing world build. I wonder how Cheryl, not typically a sci-fi/fantasy reader, will take to that aspect. I assume well but if a reader isn’t used to a mystery world build full of questions as a full companion to characters, plot, and other stylistic elements this is something new. In any event, Jemisin is a master. She could have excelled in any genre. I’m so pleased and gratified she choose this one.
Bart Ehrman’s Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife was a great read. For me, it was a return to both his writing in general and comparative religion in specific. It did not disappoint, though I’m sad it ended where it did. Ehrman is a scholar of early Christian history and texts so I don’t fault him for ending in the 4th century CE. But this “story” most certainly doesn’t end there. In fact, I would say the medieval purgatory/Original Sin developments of the Roman Catholic Church, the fire and brimstone hell elements to American revivalism, and the modern afterlife quirks of 20th/21st century protestant evangelism deserve some exposition.
Now, on to the main event.
Category 1: Non-Fiction. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. This book has been on my radar to read for ten years. I think I own a Kindle version that I never started. Here it is in true book form and I’m so excited to read it. The Great Migration, the decades-long migration of black U.S. citizens from the South to northern and western cities in search of a better life, has long held my fascination as someone who grew up in Massachusetts and Ohio. I can’t wait to delve into the stories and history Wilkerson has here. I feel like this book won almost every award possible.
Category 2: Fiction. Had to immediately pick up and start N. K. Jemisin’s sequel to The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate. Can’t wait to delve and jump in. It’s the second book of the trilogy.
Category 3: Reading with Cheryl. Still on Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness. We might even finish this week. It’s a great book. It’s just a joint read so we approach and savor it.