From the Stacks: October + November

by Karen Biscopink in

*In order to keep better track of what I've read each month, what I loved, and what I think my friends would love, a monthly round-up is in order.*


"All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr

Summary: This is one of the most beautiful WWII books I've read. The novel alternates between the stories of two children on very different sides of the war: a blind girl in possession of a great treasure sought by the army, and an orphaned boy whose technical brilliance results in conscription into the Hitler Youth. Their stories overlap throughout a series of tragic, beautifully told events that read like a gothic fairy tale. 

I have recommended this book to everyone. It's unputdownable because of the storyline, but even more so because of the gorgeous prose. Doerr's expansive knowledge of basically everything (history, radios, biology, to name a few) is mind boggling to me. I have no idea how you write a book like this, but I'm so glad it exists.

"Slade House" by David Mitchell

Summary: "Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it."

What even is this book? I don't know but I love it like I love "American Horror Story" and culty vampire tales and the raw essence of Halloween and the dizzying effect of Escher's art. "Reality-warping" is only one way to put it; surreal is another. Houses and people appear where they shouldn't. The tangible morphs and morphs again. It gave me nightmares that I would classify as oddly enjoyable.

"California" by Edan Lepucki

Summary: You may remember this as the debut novel that Stephen Colbert lauded and made wildly popular. Set in a not-so-distant future, in which the planet is disintegrating and society as we know it has crumbled, the story centers around a young couple who set out into the wilderness to survive off of the land. Complications arise when they discover that they'll soon be introducing a baby into this unstable environment. Seeking out (and finding) a community of survivalists with their own intricate agenda threatens to disrupt the only thing the protagonists have left: their moral code. 

I went on an "apocalypse" bender this year so "California" fit into my stacks perfectly. If you're into watching society crumble and the resultant survivor scrambling, this is a great quick read. After "Wool," my expectations for end-of-days reading is pretty high so this didn't change my life, but it was enjoyable and largely interesting from a psychological standpoint.


"The Effortless Experience" by Matthew Dixon

Summary: Everything you've ever wanted to know about the changing face of customer support, and how companies can tailor their approach to reduce effort for end-users and employees alike.

Reading work-related books can be a chore, but "The Effortless Experience" truly caught me off guard. The team that put this together shares fascinating data around generational expectations when it comes to support experiences, and the anecdotes they pepper throughout are invaluable. I can't recommend this highly enough, not only as something to bolster your work life, but to achieve a greater glimpse into relationships as a whole. I even came out of this with an exciting new idea for a poetry chapbook. Who would have thought?