How I’m “Dune”: The End Of My 2021 Reading List

That’s it, it’s over. There’s no more time to squeeze any more books onto my 2021 reading list. And despite the procrastination in the summer as I struggled to get through a book that just wasn’t doing it for me, I still managed to cross off every book on the Indigo Reading Challenge list. Well, sort of. But more on that later.

This was my first time ever using a reading list generated by another person/company. Usually, I just go by my own reading system and make my way through whatever books I feel like in the moment. But this year, I enjoyed having a challenge as well as a well-defined list. It prompted me to read through some of the books that have been sitting, unread, on my shelf for far too long. Although, yes, I did end up buying new books and reading them right away. I’m only human.

But now that the 2021 Indigo Reading Challenge is over, I think I’m going to skip a pre-determined reading list this year. In the future, I may seek out reading lists by other people/companies in order to challenge myself again, but not right now. Between Christmas presents and stuff on my shelf that I’m now inspired to finally read through, I’d like the freedom to read whatever I feel like this year. Of course, I’ll still share my thoughts on the books that make it onto my 2022 “list”.

Until then, here are my thoughts on the final books off my 2021 reading list.

A Book recommended by Indigo Experts: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Figuring out what to read for this category was difficult. I could have gone into my local Indigo and told the first sales person I saw “Recommend something to me.” Or I could have reached out to my friend who is a manager with Indigo. But I didn’t want to have to buy something new for this item on the list. I figured this would be a good opportunity to tackle something unread from my bookshelf. So I hopped onto Instagram, looked up the Indigo closest to me, and scoured the staff picks and recommendations until I found something that a) I already owned, and b) I had not yet read. When I had my top two, I narrowed it down to Fight Club.

On one hand, I’m upset that I’ve already seen the movie because obviously it spoiled the big twist. However, because I knew what was going to happen, it allowed me to really pay attention to the writing. And boy was this beautifully written. Not only did I pay close attention to the language used in the scenes involving Tyler Durden, but I really got to enjoy the poetic quality of the writing. The narrator mentions haikus often enough that, at a certain point, it’s hard not to think of this story as poetry adjacent. The way the dialogue is written, along with the thoughts of the narrator, don’t always follow what you would expect from your average novel. And the unique style guided my attention to where it needed to be in reading this story. I came for the plot of this pop culture classic, but I stayed for Palahniuk’s gorgeous writing style.

A Book By a Black Autor: 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup

I have to admit, I was worried that this would be a slow read when I first got into it. Apart from the fact that this is obviously written in an older style of language, this memoir isn’t written as a novel. Yes, the text gives an account of what happens to Northrup, but that’s just about it. Some chapters don’t even have dialogue. Those that do have very little. In the forward by Steve McQueen, he mentions that Northrup didn’t just tell his story, but laid out the facts. And that has been useful as it means the facts can be corroborated, giving legitimacy to this narrative. But that’s also the problem. Especially in the first few chapters, there are moments when the book comes off as just a list of facts woven together by an overarching narrative. So I’m sure you can imagine that I was not too thrilled with the idea of having to read over 200 pages of this.

Thankfully, I soon realized that this would not be a slow read at all. Despite the listing off of facts, despite the lack of dialogue, I tore through this book in three days. And it only took that long because of things like work and household responsibilities that got in the way (the audacity). This story is so engaging and compelling that I needed to keep reading. And I think a contributing factor is that this is a true story. I’m invested in the characters because they were real people who had to live through the horrors of slavery. Also, I found the writing style was much more palpable that some of the other texts I’ve read from this time period (both for school and for fun). Honestly, I wish I had read this for school instead of the usual stuff by the usual dead white men.

I guess since I enjoyed this I should go watch the movie now.

The First Book in a Series: Dune by Frank Herbert

Okay, so here’s the thing: I’m cheating with this one. Yes, it is the first book in a series, so that’s fine. But this is a new purchase, not something that’s been sitting around unread for years. And I did not finish it before 2022. I’ve barely even started. So I guess this is more my first book of 2022 than it is my last book of 2021. Obviously, I can’t give all my thoughts on it yet, but I can give my reasons for wanting to read this.

No, I’m not reading it just because of the new movie.

As a pre-teen, I remember my dad telling me about Frank Herbert’s Dune series, and how important it was considered in sci-fi fiction. I was told that I should read it some day. And now that I am an adult and a sci-fi fan, I have a better understanding of just how much I need to read this book. So when I bought my Dad a book for Christmas, Dune ended up in my cart when it popped onto the screen as recommended reading that also happened to be on sale.

But this is not my first time experiencing the world of Dune. As a young adult, I remember the seemingly unending rant of one of my co-workers about how much he hated the 1984 film. Mostly, he disliked it because the ending was not accurate to the book. That rant made me curious enough to want to watch the movie, so I did. And I did not enjoy it. Although the fact that we were dealing with TV problems at the time and kept having to pause the movie or watch it without audio didn’t help (a faulty HDMI cable was to blame). But this new movie looks good enough that I’m at least willing to give that a chance. Plus, I’ve heard fantastic things about it.

Now for the main reason I need to read this book right now: my friends. A friend of mine absolutely adores the Dune series and has been slowly working her magic on the rest of our friend group to get us to all read the books. I believe I am now the second person to join her “cult” of Dune.

So there you have it. I’ll be starting 2022 with a beast of a book that, at this point, has become required reading for me. And afterwards, who knows what I’ll read next. I can’t wait!

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