Here’s a question: Do you let yourself read for fun? What I mean is, are you reading things that give you pure joy and pleasure?
One day years ago, I looked at my bookshelves and realized that even though my walls were covered with books, I had only a few books that were actually fun to read. All the other books were “serious,” “good” books with high literary, intellectual, or political merit–books I was “supposed” to read. Now, I did get enjoyment from many of those books–working hard and delving into multiple layers of meaning and story can be deeply satisfying for me. But would I say my books were fun? Well…. no.
Since then, I’ve made a conscious effort to read for fun. I’ve dedicated whole days to disappearing into a novel. Reexperienced the joy of childhood favorites like Watership Down. Thrown myself into the world of Harry Potter. I even read fanfiction–something that my old high-minded literary self would have been much too embarrassed to admit.
So, in honor of summer and pure fun, here’s what I’ve been reading.
The discovery of Richard III’s body this past spring launched me onto an “other times, other places” kick.
* Daughter of Time by Jacqueline Tey (1951)
A classic among Richard III revisionist novels. Featuring a bedridden Scotland Yard investigator who takes it upon himself to solve the “mystery” of the Princes in the Tower. Unfolds with the style and pace of a well-written mystery.
* The Sunne in Spendour by Sharon K Penman
Another Richard III novel. Not as well written (fairly clichéd language) but interesting and multidimensional in the way it reveals a well-known story through different character perspectives.
* Blackout, All Clear, Firewatch and The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
After reality-based historical fiction, my next step was time-traveling historians who grapple with everything from the World War II blitzkrieg on London to the Black Death. The Doomsday Book (set in Medieval England) is the best of these, but the other three are filled with great details about life in World War II Britain.
* Replay by Ken Grimwood
A man dies–only to find himself back in his life at age 18. Through the course of the book, he dies and reexperiences his life multiple times, learning and growing along the way. A fairly compelling plot and some moving emotional moments.
* The North Remembers by SilverRavenStar (fanfiction)
If you like “time traveling” to medieval worlds–and are missing your Game of Thrones fix these days, this fanfiction might be the answer. It’s a long, substantial Game of Thrones fanfiction with much better writing than you’ll find in most fanfiction. (Spoiler alert: This fanfic picks up where A Dance With Dragons left off, so if your GoT exposure ends where Season 3 of the TV series left off and you don’t want to be “spoiled,” skip this one!) I haven’t finished it, but the first half is filled with fascinating plot and character developments. It incorporates many of the popular Game of Thrones fan theories in an organic and dynamic way. (Note: This fanfiction is not finished yet, but she seems to be posting at a steady rate–and there are 96 chapters (!) so far, so there’s plenty to read…)
Not everything I’m reading is “fun.” The Big Leap by Gaye Hendricks really changed the way I look at my life. I’ve thought about limiting beliefs before, but this book took me to a whole new level. If you want a deep and unexpected understanding of why you sometimes sabotage yourself (and how to stop!), I highly recommend this book. It also talks about how to make the leap into living joyfully in your “Zone of Genius.”
Want to see more posts like this? Sign up to get my newsletter.