It’s The Final Countdown – Not Much Time Left To Finish My 2021 Reading List

Three down, three to go on the 2021 reading list. And only half a week left to finish the reading challenge. Will I read all of the books in time? Find out next week. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the books I have managed to finish on time.

A Prize Winning Book: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Another classic that I purchased because of all the hype around it, and then it sat on my shelf for years. But I suppose it’s ironic that I didn’t actually read this book for so long. Was it worth the hype though? Yes and no. Over time, I fell in love with the dystopic world Bradbury created, but that was only once I got past the opening scenes. When Montag met Clarisse, I felt like I had read this all before. I was worried that this would end up being yet another version of the events in We by Yevgeny Zamyatin and 1984 by George Orwell, where getting involved with a woman is what creates the initial conflict in the story. Thankfully, although Clarisse was a sort of catalyst of events, she wasn’t exactly crucial to Montag’s character growth. He was already stealing books before he met her, and it was burning the old woman that led to a dramatic change in his behavior. Honestly, I didn’t feel like Clarisse was necessary to the plot at all.

But what I really enjoyed was that this was an everyman story. Montag isn’t some chosen one who will change the system, he’s just an average guy. I mean, his name is literally Guy. And even at the end of the story, there is emphasis on the fact that he is not special. Yes, he is a part of bringing about eventual change, but he is no hero, and there is nothing that differentiates him from the others like him. I think this is significant for this kind of sci-fi text. If we want to change a broken system, we can’t wait for some sort of chosen one or hero to change everything. We all have to be involved. And although no one is more special than the rest, change is possible if we all work together.

A Book by an Indigenous Author: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

For this one on the list, I had to buy a new book because I’ve already read all of the books by Indigenous authors in my collection. That’s mostly because of all those Can Lit courses I’ve mentioned, so I had to read them for school. But those school related reads led to purchases of other works by those authors, and I did not let them sit unread on my shelf for long. But I’ve never read anything by Stephen Graham Jones before, so why did I buy something of his instead of more works by, say, Drew Hayden Taylor? Goodreads recommendations. This title popped up so many times for me that it was hard not to get curious. And then, when I read the blurb and found out it was a horror story, you bet I was interested. And then, when I got an Indigo gift card for Christmas and went on an eBook shopping spree, this was one of the titles that had to go in my cart.

In retrospect, I should have read this as my “book you can read in a day” because I tore through this. I honestly did not expect to finish it in one day, but it was so good that I couldn’t put it down. This is what I spent Boxing Day doing. I only stopped reading for meal breaks.

So I think you’ve probably guessed by now that I really enjoyed this book. This might just be my favourite of this year’s reading list. It’s suspenseful, gory, and references not only Indigenous lore but also classic horror tropes. I was a little disappointed with myself that I didn’t get the final girl reference sooner. But there were so many other things to focus on that wowed me. The way the POVs change in 2 parts of the novel was not only clever, but well executed. And Jones’ pacing was spot on because I was nervous and uncomfortable thanks to the build up of tension, but I couldn’t stop reading and had to get to the next chapter. When I realized what was haunting the protagonists I had to pause and think “is that actually what he’s doing?” It was so strange and unfamiliar to me that it kept my attention the whole way through.

Hands down, my favourite part of the book is the one that takes place from Lewis’ perspective. That whole section works as a self-contained story, but it also fits well within the larger narrative. And the ending chapters of Lewis’s story were the ones that got my heart-rate elevated the most out of the whole book. The gore was the strongest here, and I was so worried about what was going to happen to the characters. These chapters alone are what made me fall head-over-heels in love with the story. I highly recommend The Only Good Indians if you’re a horror fan; especially if you enjoy revenge stories.

Now I need to read all of Jones’ books.

A Book About Someone Who Inspires You: I Am Spock by Leonard Nimoy

This was also a new purchase this year, but there’s a reason why I felt the need to read this one right away. This summer, right as my friends and I were celebrating being fully vaccinated, one of those friends took me to Black Squirrel Books for the first time. If you’re in Ottawa and you’re a book lover, this is definitely a place you should check out. During that visit, I spotted this bad boy and was determined to take him home with me. And I had to include it on this year’s reading list because of my grandpa. He’s been on my mind a lot since he passed this year, and he not only got me into Star Trek but also had many conversations with me about the subject. This is exactly the kind of book I would have lent to him after reading it for myself.

Thanks to my love of Stark Trek and documentaries about the series, I knew that I Am Spock was written as a sequel/response to I Am Not Spock which Nimoy wrote about 20 years earlier. Since I Am Not Spock is seen as the more negative of the two autobiographies (obviously), I felt that if I was going to add one of them to my collection it would be I Am Spock.

And honestly, after reading I Am Spock, I don’t feel the need to read the previous autobiography. In this sequel, Nimoy addresses many of the things he wrote in I Am Not Spock, so I now have a decent understanding of the contents of that book without having actually read it. Apart from that, the book is comprised of anecdotes about Star Trek, letters, stories about Nimoy’s acting career, and conversations with Spock himself. Compared to some of the other autobiographies I’ve read, this isn’t necessarily the most riveting memoir I’ve ever come across, but it was still a lot of fun to read. I enjoyed myself and I learned some new things about Star Trek. And I think Grandpa would have enjoyed this book too.

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