Archived Story

Spears shares favorite reads

Published 12:41pm Thursday, November 15, 2012

I have no problem admitting that I am very much a bookworm.

Since I was little, I have spent a good chunk of my life with my nose stuck in a book. The power of words has always fascinated me, which is probably why I ended up in a profession where I put my thoughts to paper every day.

I’ve seen many “Best of 2012” lists emerge recently, and my favorite ones are always about books. I’m terrible about keeping up with the latest books, and so sometimes I’ll read a fantastic book a fairly long time after its initial publication.

So below, I decided to form a list of books that have influenced me during 2012. No, not all of them were written in the past year, but the best thing about books is that their messages are timeless.

If you know a fellow bookworm or are one yourself and haven’t read the books listed below, I highly recommend giving them a second look.

Room by Emma Donoghue:  This haunting novel is narrated by a five-year-old named Jack. As the novel progresses, the reader grows to realize that Jack and his mother are being held captive and that the small room in which they live is Jack’s entire world. He has no idea anything exists beyond the room’s walls, and he personifies the objects with which he interacts every day – Tub and Sink and Bed and Rug are as much his friends as his own mother. This novel will keep you on the edge of your seat, and seeing the situation through the eyes of a child makes it all the more heartbreaking.

11/22/63 by Stephen King: I must admit I’m a sucker for Stephen King books. This one in particular uses the fantastical element of time travel to explore the possibility of what would happen if someone were given the opportunity to go back and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And changing such a huge part in American history will perhaps not have the effects one might think. In classic Stephen King style, this one is a page-turner to the point that readers may not even notice its 800+ pages.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut: OK, I’m not sure how I got 24 years into my life before finally picking up a Vonnegut book. While its writing style is erratic and sometimes downright confusing, the novel follows the story of an American soldier in World War II and the horrors he experiences as a prisoner of war. The protagonist soldier also claims that he is unstuck in time and has had interactions with aliens.  Vonnegut’s commentary on war and free will are consistent themes throughout the novel. Immediately when I finished the book, I flipped back to page one and read the book all over again – something I’ve never done before.

Man Walks Into A Room by Nicole Krauss: This beautiful novel tells the story of Samson Greene, an East Coast college professor who is discovered in the desert across the country without any knowledge of who he is. Krauss crafts a beautiful tale about what it truly means to love a person and how hard it would be for a relationship to recover without that collection of habits one grows to know about a spouse. I was also fascinated by Krauss’s concept of insurmountable solitude. “When you are young, you think it’s going to be solved by love,” Krauss writes. “But it never is. Being close – as close as you can get – to another person only makes clear that impassable distance between you.”

If our Outlook readers have any other suggestions for great novels to read, I’d love for them to pass those along my way. My nightstand always has a stack of books just calling to be read – and I plan to keep it that way.

Happy reading.

Spears is general manager and managing editor of The Outlook.