From “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid to “The Universe Versus Alex Woods” by Gavin Extence.
This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:
- Link the books together in any way you like.
- Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favorite and Best.
- Share these rules in your post.
- Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
- Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
- Share you post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
- Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.
THANKS FOR PLAYING!
This month we started with “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Oh. My. Goodness! My regular readers already know that “Daisy Jones & The Six” was one of my favorite books of 2019. It was so special, partially because of the format, which was like reading the transcript of a documentary. Also, I grew up with exactly this era of Rock ‘n Roll, and there are things in this book that just rang so very true, and brought me back (sometimes, unpleasantly) to my youth. But what really got me about this novel was how the very end of the book made me re-think the whole thing from the very beginning, and made me go back to read the fictional “author’s note” at the beginning of the book, and then the whole thing came together so beautifully, I was just blown away. Of course, that makes it very difficult to figure out how to go with the links in this month’s chain. So… because this grabbed the #3 spot on my 2019 list, what about other books that grabbed that same spot in previous years?
That makes this a chain of bronze medalists!
First Degree. Oh dear. I already used the #3 spot of 2018 in a previous #6Degrees (“VOX” by Christian Dalcher). But in 2017, I had a third-place tie so I’ll use each of them for my first and second degrees. I’ll start with “Forest Dark” by Nicole Krauss. Krauss’ long awaited fourth novel was, to my mind her best yet. In this book, Krauss gives us parallel stories of two characters that travel from New York to Tel Aviv, while neither of them ever meets the other. Despite these disconnected tales, Krauss leads us to draw our own comparisons and contrasts with what she both reveals from and hides underneath their adventures. I also think that the character of Nicole in this book was semi-autobiographical, making it feel so very personal, and therefore all the more compelling.
Second Degree. The other book that tied for third place in 2017 was “The Golden House” by Salman Rushdie. This novel revolves around the newest wealthy family at “The Gardens,” a gated New York Community – the Golden family. Not only do they all have strange names (straight out of ancient Roman and Greek history and mythology), but they themselves seem a bit odd. René is a fellow resident of this complex, who has ambitions in film-making, including a project to document the Golden family, but René hasn’t decided if he can tell their true story or make up something fictional based on the Goldens; either way, René can’t stay away from the Golden House. This book ended up being somewhat prescient regarding politics today in the US, but that’s neither here nor there.
Third Degree. In 2016, my third favorite book was “My Name is Lucy Barton” by Elizabeth Strout. This was one of those books that showed up on lots of best-of 2016 lists, including on the Goodreads shortlist for best book of the year in the fiction category. In this story about relationships and self-understanding, Strout makes us both feel and see her characters. More importantly, after you’ve finished reading, I believe you’ll feel you really know and understand them. However, what really made me love this book is because she did all that with a surface of simplicity that belies the complexity that lies seamlessly underneath. My enjoying this novel made me grab her sequel to this, “Anything is Possible” which was published in 2017, which I liked very much, but it didn’t make it onto my top five list!
Forth Degree. In 2015, that place went to “Rodin’s Lover” by Heather Webb. This genre fascinates me – biographical, historical fiction spotlighting unknown or lesser-known women who played important parts in the lives of well-known men, but whom history has sidelined, if not overlooked altogether. In Webb’s second novel, we learn about the sculptor Camille Claudel, a talent in her own right, who studied with August Rodin, and with whom she had an affair. Webb brings Camille into beautiful focus, showing us both her genius and her flaws, and how those two elements led to a tragic life, partially because she lived in an era when women in the arts were woefully underappreciated, if not totally ignored.
Fifth Degree. For 2014, third place went to “The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81” by J.B. Morrison. After a milk truck runs him down and breaks his leg, Frank Derrick is stuck at home, so his daughter decides he needs some help. While Frank isn’t thrilled with the idea, he changes his mind completely when the woman who shows up is the young and vibrant Kelly Christmas. After that, all Frank can think about is how to raise enough money to keep her coming back after her short-term job is over. This one will make you laugh out loud while you wish Frank knew just a bit more about the internet so he could find something like Kickstarter to raise enough money to have Christmas visit him all year long. By the way, the sequel to this novel was also fun, but it wasn’t quite as good as this one.
Sixth Degree. And finally, in 2013 – which was my first year of blogging – the book that got third place was “The Universe Verses Alex Woods” by Gavin Extence. No, I don’t usually read YA books, mostly because their subject matter doesn’t draw me in. However, when I read about this one, I thought I’d give it a try. When it comes to “coming of age” novels, the first one that comes to mind is always Catcher in the Rye. But that was written in the 1950s and one wonders if it isn’t a bit out of touch with the times. Then along came Alex Woods, who could very well be the Holden Caulfield of the 21st Century. I would even be so bold as to say that perhaps this book should replace Catcher in the Rye in our schools as mandatory reading, since I think that today’s young adults would welcome the chance to study someone living in their own era (or close to it, at least). It almost goes without saying that with this debut novel, Gavin Extence showed himself to be an author with lots of talent, and I’m sorry I haven’t read any of his work since.
Now, the question is, does Reid’s novel connect with Extence’s book? Actually, no – except for the fact that all these books are connected by me, because they were all my bronze medalists of the years they were published!
If you don’t know any of these books, I hope you’ll click on the links to my reviews and check them out!
If you decide to join in on this meme, I hope you’ll give me the link to your post in the comments below, as well as on the linky page that Kate has on her blog for this meme.
Next month (February 1, 2020), we will start with “Fleishman is in Trouble“ by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.