Hapa Reads: Issue 003
Our staff picks for our favorite books this spring.
The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden
If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman you will love this book! Katherine Arden weaves a magical tale of Russian folklore, following protagonist Vasilisa. Her nurse raises her after her mother’s death and teaches her to honor the household spirits, but Vasilisa isn’t any ordinary girl. She can see and speak to these creatures. These creatures provide for her and her family. However, her father goes to Moscow and brings back a wife, who is a devout Christian and believes these household entities to be demons. Soon after the stepmother’s arrival their crops begin to die. A great evil has awoken that will end everything Vasilisa holds dear. Only Vasilisa can save her village, but at what cost?
ALL of Hunter S. Thompson
I haven’t read a new book since the last issue. Not for lack of wanting; I just haven’t had the time to seek out and commit to something new. In times like this, I revert to my safe places. These are the works I can read over and over again, sometimes without even really paying attention, and just feel myself transported. It’s similar to having a mindless TV show that you’ve seen a million times but still like to have in the background while you decompress at the end of the day.
That, to me, is the grumpy, acerbic voice of the great Hunter S. Thompson. Forget his importance to the cultural discourse of his time. Forget his fearless, groundbreaking invention of gonzo journalism. Forget how goddamn cool he is. Just take an hour and read some excerpts from any of the Fear and Loathing editions, Hell’s Angels, Gonzo Paper… THIS is a voice the likes of which we will never see again, and the world is poorer in its absence.
What Hunter brought was a voice of fearless truth. He didn’t give a shit about the money or the zeitgeist or social media or your fucking feelings. He saw the direction the world was going in and followed through on his promise of exiting this awful place on his own terms and at his own time. It is our loss, and his absence is felt with every injustice and atrocity that hits the news cycle.
In Between Two Worlds by Tyler Henry
Rebecca Lee Lerman
It was a book recommended to me by one of my cast mates. We were talking about life after-death, spirit guides, angels and messages we receive from our loved ones after their passing. I believe in this. This book gives me great comfort in believing that nobody ever really dies. That our human form is only one part of our journey to self discovery and what it means to be a part of this universe. There are other worlds we are meant to be a part of, and it makes me less fearful of death and more present in the paths I am on in this life.
Chasing Shakespeare By Sarah Smith
I picked this book up in the NoMat BookClub outside the Starbucks in my neighborhood. The title is what intrigued me. I’m a big Shakespeare nerd, having done my pilgrimage to Stratford-Upon-Avon and visited Shakespeare’s Globe in London. To know about Shakespeare is to also know about Oxfordian Theory, the idea that Shakespeare never wrote his classic works. Renowned Shakespearean actors such as Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi subscribe to the idea that it was in fact Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford who penned Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and so on. The theory has never held water and has never really been of interest to me. I even saw that ridiculous movie Anonymous based off Oxfordian theory; I wish this would become a film instead.
Chasing Shakespeare is pure fiction, but it’s a fun romp through Merry Ol’ England, and it’s brimfull with Shakespeare/Elizabethan fun facts. It’s like a less religious Dan Brown novel; a Da Vinci Code Lite if you will. If you’re a Tudor history buff who enjoys a light read, I highly recommend this book. The narrative is tight, the characters are perhaps too relatable, and Shakespeare abounds in a little British adventure.
The Three-Body Problem - By Cixin Lui, Translated By Ken Liu
Naomi Takata Shepherd
Ken Liu first appeared on my radar in 2016 when I was driving home from work and caught part of an interview with him on NPR discussing his newly released short story collection, The Paper Menagerie, and his work translating The Three-Body Problem, the very first translated novel to win the Hugo Award. I put both books on my list and read The Paper Menagerie shortly after listening to the interview (it’s excellent, if you’re wondering), but have put off reading The Three-Body Problem because it is, admittedly, a bit of a daunting and heady read. This novel is the first in Cixin Liu’s trilogy that grapples with the repercussions of China’s Cultural Revolution and the ramifications humanity faces after establishing first contact with an advanced alien society. For me personally, I would put this science fiction novel into my “character-building” category; it’s one of those books that I know will be thought-provoking and I’ll come out of it with new insights that would never have occurred to me otherwise...but it’s still a little like pulling teeth to get me to pick it up. I’m glad I finally did.