This is the eleventh installment of my aptly-named series “Books on the Shelf,” in which I take any title or object from one of my lovingly alphabetized shelves and write a short post about it.
I took all the pictures of my shelves at the beginning of the year. By now, this shelf has changed. I’m looking forward to the second round of these posts, because I switch out books quite often, and I like how my collection is growing.
Also, pandemic + mega-recession + BLM protests* have changed how we write and think about everything.
I’m left with two thoughts upon viewing this image of shelf 1.11-that-was: first, I need to go back to Age of Innocence, because it’s such a lovely exploration of complex characters. Second, Tad Williams remains my favorite of the speculative fiction writers who rose to prominence in the 1980s-90s era.
That era was without question dominated by a homogeneity of perspectives and styles. Doesn’t mean it was all bad, of course. I mean, I only know about 90s fantasy writing because I read a lot of it and enjoyed it. But it’s also true that the era was FULL of Tolkien-esque worldbuilding, from a very Anglo/male/hetero/etc perspective. Thankfully, we have more diverse voices contributing to the genre now.
I’m gonna give props to Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. Dated? Sure. It’s still on my shelf, though, unlike (nearly) all the other authors I read in high school.
I didn’t go back to read it before writing this post (it’s a pandemic and I’m not one of the bored ones without obligations). I remember, though, that Simon names his horse Homefinder. There’s lovely character growth across the books, and what resonated and still resonates with me most is that, throughout the epic, Simon is searching for home, finally coming to understand that one must cultivate a feeling of home internally.
It’s a lovely lesson at the heart of a truly enormous story.
* I write these posts in advance and schedule them. I have returned to this post in the midst of watching coverage of protests around the world, and it’s necessary to not be silent at this moment.
At the same time: I am not a person who should be claiming any part of the spotlight right now. I am not the person to offer public guidance. (Private conversations are happening.) Instead, I will simply say: as fearful as many of us remain of how the pandemic will continue to grow, I hope each of us will find a way to support efforts to move beyond racism in our lives and in our communities.
Y’all be safe, and may grace accompany us all down this hard road.