I’ve recently written about my years-long love affair with the novels of Sarah Waters—I’m still slowly, but surely, working my way through each of her books. My Sarah Waters reading project made me think of other authors who have impressed me so much with their words that I feel compelled to read everything they have ever written. There are so many authors who have charmed me with their works, enough to read more and more of their series, of their individual books. However, there are a select few of which I would like to permanently move into the plots of their stories, have conversations with the fully-realized characters, and discuss with the author just how they manage to find their inspiration.
The first that immediately springs to mind is another Sarah—Sarah Moss. Reading Night Waking for the first time was such an incredible experience for me. The book was infuriating, compelling, cathartic. Here was an author who wrote about the gender dynamics of being a woman and the expectations placed on working women, especially those with small children at home. Sarah Moss writes about mental health in a way I have never seen written about before—she is honest, upsetting, brutal. The main character in Night Waking, Anna, is not always likable, and some of her actions more than made me cringe. The world sees her as a young mother and wife, but she sees herself as a historian first and foremost, and she is eager to get to her work and both loves and resents her children for distracting her.
Cold Earth is another great book in it, Sarah Moss carefully infiltrates discussions of history and class and characters' backstories with environmental perils harming the earth. She dispenses just the right amount of ecofeminism within her novels to never be preachy, to only make you think more about our planet and the way we are treating it. Sarah Moss is an astonishing author. Bodies of Light isn't actually available in the United States as of right now. But it is available for inter-library loan! Get your hands on it immediately, for that book addresses the struggles of a young female doctor in Victorian England, and it is one of the best books I have ever read that addresses anxiety. If you want to read more about that particular character, the sequel is available in the U.S.—Signs for Lost Children, which can technically be read without reading Bodies of Light first. You can also ILL The Tidal Zone, which is widely considered to be her best work. I have yet to read her single non-fiction book Names for the Sea about her experiences living in Iceland or her recently published book, Ghost Wall, but I know I will, eventually.
If you have yet to stumble across Jen Campbell while you've been browsing Booktube, then you are in for a real treat! I fell in love with her works through her in-depth videos on the origins of fairy tales. Jen is unique on this list because she seems more easily accessible than some other authors, because Jen makes truly excellent Youtube videos about books, disability, writing, and just generally talks about her life. She is such a joy to watch, and her books are an even bigger joy to read. Like with many of Sarah Moss's books, unfortunately much of what Jen Campbell has gifted to the world is yet to be published here in the U.S. Her charming and breezy Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores regales her time working in an independent bookshop and the types of oddball comments she received. I particularly enjoy this one since some of the comments are similar to the interesting situations I occasionally find myself in at the library.
I have yet to read The Bookshop Book (I'm saving it for later so that there's at least one of Jen's books I haven't read yet), but it sounds incredible—Jen travels all over the world to visit bookstores in strange and unusual places, all for the love of books. Her picture book, Franklin's Flying Bookshop, is about a little girl named Luna and a not-so-little dragon named Franklin and their adventures together. Both love books and just want to share their love with the world. The sequel, Franklin and Luna Go to the Moon, set to be released in November, is on my holiday wish list. Jen has also written some books of poetry I have not yet read, but if there is someone who can finally get me interested in reading poetry, it is the ethereal Jen Campbell. Finally, her book of short stories—The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night. I hold out hope that this magnificent work of literature will find its way to some American publishers, so that each and every one of you has easier access to read what I think is the greatest short story collection of all time.
I consider myself lucky—my job entails a lot of reading, talking about books, and discovering new authors. Every now and then, though, I find an author who wows me beyond anything I have ever read before. I'm completely obsessed with the storytelling of the women mentioned above, and I can happily say I await any and all new books they decide to bless me with. Now, get to reading!
-Kimberly Lopez is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.