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Recommended Reads: Imaginative Fiction to Inspire Creativity

By Jennifer Johnson
Guardian Reviewer

Five in a series highlighting the books our contributing and guest writers most enjoyed reading in 2014.

CuriousincidentofdoginnighttimeMark Haddon’s original and humorous novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Doubleday, 2003), is a unique murder mystery of sorts, narrated by the quirky Christopher Boone, an academically gifted but socially challenged fifteen year old with autism. He is an unusual boy with a deep affinity for the color red who can only relax by doing difficult math problems in his head. Set in the late 90s in Swindon, England, the story begins when his neighbor’s dog is brutally murdered with a garden fork and Christopher is falsely accused of the crime. This motivates him to imitate his favorite literary character Sherlock Holmes and find the true culprit. Through his chronicled investigation he overcomes many personal obstacles such as his inability to tolerate human touch, loud noises, and to comprehend emotions. Also, going against his father’s wishes to stay out of trouble, the rebellious Christopher finds himself jumping out of his comfort zone and into a series of unusual adventures. By the end, this seemingly ill equipped detective uncovers the truth to more than one mystery. The narration is filled with humor and emotion while told through the perspective of a boy who professes to being able to relate to neither.

The-Magicians-trilogyAt first glance the Magician’s fiction trilogy (Viking 2009-2014) by Lev Grossman appears to be a Harry Potter rip off with its vaguely similar plot line and magical elements of fantasy, but it really deserves another look; this story’s personality is completely different, distinguishing itself as a deeper, darker, more sophisticated coming-of-age tale with each book examining the progression of the life of the main character, Quentin Coldwater. He is introduced in The Magician as a brilliant but discontented youth whose life is altered when he is accepted at a secret college for magicians hidden in upstate New York.

Do any of Jennifer’s picks pique your curiosity? Choose any one of the 11 titles we’re featuring to mark the changing of the year as our thank-you for becoming a Guardian Angel! You’ll also get The Greenville Guardian: Our First Three Years, an anthology of our best work so far. Click here for details and the full list of your book choices – but don’t wait! This offer won’t last long! 

Being the daydreamer that he is, Quentin accepts his extraordinary fate and begins his journey of growing into an adult with similar mishaps and bone-headed mistakes as any regular, un-magical young person. In the second book of the series, The Magician King, Quentin has graduated from college and finds out that a previously-thought-to-be mythical land called Fillory exists and he begins to search for it. He observes that a life filled with magic in constant use leads to boredom and excess. We also delve more into his relationship with his father and the cold distance between them. In book three of the trilogy, The Magician’s Land, conflicts build as our unusual hero attempts to save the world while revisiting places and people from his past and realizing how much they have changed.

All three books in Grossman’s trilogy are an inventive dissection of a person’s life and the hero’s quest to understand his identity and place in the world. Written in an almost satirical perspective, injected with mature themes, and with a myriad of colorful but relatable characters against a surreal fantastical backdrop, the trilogy could best be described as trying to cram an entire philosophy book inside a Dungeons and Dragons lunch box. It’s bigger on the inside.

Jennifer Johnson lives in Greenville and feasts on the fruits of human creativity.

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