The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring
By J.R.R. Tolkien
I’ve never been a fan of fantasy, but ever since I started reading fiction, some ten years ago, the LOTR trilogy has always haunted me. After a few years of saying I was going to read it and never reading it, this trilogy became my white whale. Fastfoward to this year, my partner gifted me a beautiful book set with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This was back in August, so I thought this was going to be the year I finally read the entire trilogy, but real life got in the way and I only had time to read The Hobbit and the first book of the series: The Fellowship of the Ring. Let me tell you, the wait was worth it.
There is a reason why these books are classics and the epitome of literary fantasy. Tolkien is really good at what he does, and what he does is pretty beautiful. What surprised me the most is that his prose is really fun to read. When I talked to people that had read the LOTR books they always praised the world building and the epic scale of the story, but no one talks about how Tolkien plays with words and narrative structures – like he doesn’t have a care in the world. I always thought that“not all who wander are lost” was a pretty quote, but now that I have been shown its true meaning through Tolkien’s literary style I have to admit I have been engraved into my heart. It’s ok to have fun, to explore and wander your own words, to go through the forgotten paths of your own story. Like I said above, there is a reason why these books are so famous and loved, I’m glad I finally learned why.
In The Dust of This Planet
By Eugene Thacker
This year I had a bit of a falling out with one of my passions: philosophy. I’ve been a philosophy student for three years now, and what once was an exciting world of questions and intrigue is now a boring land of academic rules, boring terms no one really understands, and a moral superiority complex that honestly has become tiring. But in a gray sea of monotony, I found an island of excitement and new themes to explore: a book called In The Dust of This Planet by american philosopher Eugene Thacker.
This is the first in a series of books that tries to explore the horror of philosophy. By the horror of philosophy Thacker refers to the questions that we can not find an answer for, the concepts our mind just can’t wrap itself around, the ideas we just can’t comprehend. Going through a range of topics from black metal to theology, Eugene explores the darkest corners of philosophy to try and talk about that which we can not talk about. With this book Thacker dares to go beyond the rigid limits of academic philosophy, exploring topics and asking questions most philosophers wouldn’t even consider. This book is one of the reasons I haven’t quit philosophy and I really recommend it.
Ceniza en la boca
By Brenda Navarro
Ceniza en la boca by mexican author Brenda Navarro is one of those books that totally destroys your heart and you are thankful for doing it. This book tells the story of a mexican immigrant in Spain whose little brother just committed suicide. The book jumps through different points of the protagonist’s life, from her childhood in Mexico, to her time in Spain, to finally her return to Mexico with her brother’s ashes.
While the story goes over some important topics like xenophobia, migration, and mental health, it never feels like a lecture or like it’s exploiting these themes for a cheap emotional response. The strength of the novel it’s in its characters and their relations. The protagonist isn’t nice or pleasant, but she is an honest and relatable narrator that makes the novel feel sincere. This is not a fun novel, or a heartwarming story. It is sad, violent, hopeless and heartbreaking. But it’s worth reading. Few novels have had such a strong emotional impact on me as this one.
*Note: This book is only available in Spanish.
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
By Merlin Sheldrake
Have you ever started being interested in something that most people would never think you are interested in, something that doesn’t relate to any of your other interests and just seems to be an out of nowhere obsession? This year that was me and fungi, and it all started with Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. I couldn’t tell you why I bought this book, I couldn’t tell you where I was when I bought it or what I was thinking when I did, but what I can tell you is from the first page I was absorbed by it.
Mushrooms are fascinating organisms and Sheldrake does a wonderful job taking the reader through all of the ways they live and relate to other organisms. Each chapter explores different kinds of fungi and shows us their wonderful (and sometimes scary) properties. One of the best things in the book is the fact that it doesn’t just concentrate on the biology aspects of fungi, but instead it also shows their relevance in the fields of technology, cultural studies and even political debates. The best thing Sheldrake does in this book is use fungi to make the reader think of the world in new and better ways. If you are interested in exploring a whole new world that lies hidden in our own world, this is the book for you.
It’s Lonely at The Center of The Earth
By Zoe Thorogood
It has been so long since I was so immersed or emotionally invested in a piece of art as I was with It’s Lonely at The Center of The Earth by Zoe Thorogood. An autobiographical comic, It’s Lonely at The Center of The Earth is a documentation of some months in the life of Thorogood in 2021 (with the inclusion of some flashbacks to Zoe’s childhood and teenage years). The author uses all of the advantages the comic medium offers to tell her story in a unique way.
Even though Thorogood breaks the fourth wall constantly and uses a ton of visual metaphors the book never feels pretentious or forced, it actually feels sincere and at points brutally honest. In contrast to other autobiographies, this comic doesn’t feel like the author is trying to create a story around their own life (people who have already read this book will find a lot of irony in this sentence), but instead it feels like a sincere effort from the author to capture her state of mind and emotional landscape at the moment, giving us a wonderful work that takes the reader through a journey full of funny, sad, awkward and gut wrenching moments. I can say that I was not the same person that started this comic by the end of it, and I really recommend this comic to, well, anyone. Definitely my favorite read of the year.