We all crave an escape from our everyday concerns and routines – some experience or adventure to energize us or tilt our perspective away from the ordinary. I recently read an account of a friend’s unusual experience early one foggy morning. As she walked alone in her yard through the mist, she “felt comforted by unseen hands.” When she returned later, as the fog lifted, she found “thousands of glittering threads, a multitude of intricate webs… a message for me created by hundreds of baby spiders.”
This transformational experience involved opening the mind to the infinite number of possibilities in the world, and seeing beyond the everyday view. I’d like to share several strongly imagined and magical books I’ve enjoyed, where my experience has been similarly skewed.
Storytelling offers us opportunities to suspend belief in reality. Each of these books takes you on a journey into characters’ worlds where unseen hands and forces shape lives and destinies. Fantastic reads (or listens) pull you in and encourage you to view a tale from entirely different perspectives and imagine strange and powerful new stuff.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto/ Mitch Albom (coming in early November)
I knew that this was a special book when I read the first chapter released as a preview to librarian attendees of Book Expo America. I immediately thought of a half dozen friends who would relish this story and the storytelling. Several friends read my galley copy before I got my hands on it, and to a person, all adored it. Music and creativity, mixed with grave challenges and a bit of magic, weave powerful spells and you’ll carry Mitch Albom’s newest story in your heart long after you’ve turned the last page and wiped your tears.
Trigger Warning/ Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman introduces his latest collection of short fiction in the context of “those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming.” The stories and verses are thought provoking — some familiar, some decidedly strange and possibly troubling, and they will make you think differently and open your imagination. Gaiman asks us to leave our comfort zone to conjure, consider, imagine, grow and change. The audiobook is read by Neil Himself and it’s well worth a listen to have his soothing voice and accent recounting these strange doings. My own favorite tale was “A Lunar Labyrinth.” Doctor Who fans will enjoy “Nothing O’Clock.” There is also a new "American Gods" story, “Black Dog,” and a retold version of Sleeping Beauty. Read the text here or in the gorgeous edition illustrated by Chris Riddell (The Sleeper and the Spindle/ Neil Gaiman).
In the same genre, try Saala Minukka’s "The Snow White Trilogy" (“”As Red as Blood,” As White as Snow” and “As Black as Ebony”). I read and enjoyed the last volume.There’s a strong young female heroine and a hefty atmospheric dose of Nordic noir layered over a retelling of the tale. Check back for our library copies as we add them to the collection soon.
Ashley Bell/ Dean Koontz (coming in early December)
I’ll state my theme again. Reality is not what it seems to be in this dark thriller. Koontz introduces a new character, Bibi Blair, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. Questioning her direction and actions, Bibi is swept up in intrigue to find and rescue Ashley Bell, who may be able to help, or who may need rescuing more than Bibi. Knock, knock, Sleeping Beauty — here Koontz offers another sleeper in a fantastic and twisty suspense story.
I’m a reader who won’t finish a book because I don’t want to leave the author’s characters and world behind. Each of these titles had me considering this quandary. In “Trigger Warning,” Neil Gaiman also says, “We build the stories in our heads. We take the words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what others see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me…They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.” Pick one of these titles up and listen or read across the barrier of your comfort zone.
Kate DeLodovico writes about her transformative encounter in her blog post, On Magic and Miracles. Credit and thanks also to Kate DeLodovico for the photo which accompanies this post.
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