For the last four months, I’ve been working from home and generally staying inside to keep in line with the recommendations from Canada’s health experts. As a result, I have a lot of free time on my hands, so I decided to dive headfirst into my TBR and see if I could knock of some of the titles that have been on that list for a long time.
When we first started working from home, I was asked to record a short video for HarperCollins Canada about the books I wanted to read with my new found free time and why. You can see it below!
What are you reading this weekend? Today, Jesse shares the book he's been meaning to pick up for a LONG time (and is excited to finally have the time to read!).
— HarperCollinsCa (@HarperCollinsCa) May 1, 2020
You will be happy to know that, in the almost three months that have passed since I recorded that video, I have (1) gotten a much-needed haircut; (2) went back on the promise of growing a Tom-Hanks-in-Castaway-style beard and shaved it all off because it was gross and itchy; and (3) read The Raw Sharks Texts by Steven Hall! Luckily for you, I’m here to talk about the latter. As I mentioned in the video, I had this book on my shelf for ten years before I finally got around to picking it up, and boy am I ever glad I did.
Now comes the tricky part… describing what this novel is about, if that’s even possible. I’ll let the book cover synopsis do that, because it is really hard to explain.
When Eric Sanderson wakes to amnesia and a haunting note from himself, he discovers an eerie world of thought and concept, a world in which ideas have a life of their own. Attacked by a force he cannot see and memories he cannot ignore—including those of a perfect love now lost—Eric discovers he is being relentlessly pursued by a shark that may exist only in his mind but which stalks him through the flows and streams of language and human interaction. Hunting the answers as he is hunted, Eric is led on a journey that will either bring the First Eric Sanderson back to life or destroy both Eric Sandersons forever.
Got all that? Good, because that’s somehow not even the half of it. Yes, this book is about metaphysical sharks that may or may not be hunting a man through language and memory (I know), but it’s also about the idea of love, the power of words and thoughts, and, as vague and cliche as it sounds, what it means to be human. The book opens with an ominous note and a loud banging coming from behind a locked door, and gets stranger and stranger at each and every turn.
The thing I love most about Steven Hall’s books, aside from his bonkers stories and his exceptional prose, is how much fun his books are. I was lucky enough to read a very early draft of his upcoming novel, Maxwell’s Demon, last year, and fun seems to be the through line in all of his works. Rather than being just a regular book, both of his novels – but, in particular, The Raw Shark Texts – are more like puzzles than anything else. The story, by virtue of its strangeness, implicates the reader in the telling of the story, making it a puzzle for you to piece together while you’re collecting more and more information alongside the main character. That’s a whole lot of verbiage. What I mean is that reading a Steven Hall book is akin to becoming a character in a Steven Hall book. You’re confused and unprepared and bewildered and scared and highly entertained all at the same time. And it’s just the best. (Also a bonus? You’re not actually being hunted by metaphysical sharks.)
The Raw Shark Texts is a book unlike any that you will ever read. It’ll likely appeal to fans of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves or fans of speculative fiction in general, but there are elements to this story that will appeal to every type of reader. In my little blurb in the video I recorded for work, I say that the weirdness of The Raw Shark Texts makes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland look tame by comparison, and I stand by that statement. This books is so strange and so odd, but it’s also filled with so much heart and is, at its core, so, so beautiful. If you pick it up, you will absolutely not regret it! And, if you’ve already read it, I’d love to chat with you about it.
\_____ ) \ _______
/ – – v ____ __` <
(^My attempt at a metaphysical shark)
This is the third installment in our “Quarantine Project: Destroy that TBR” series! The first two installments were from Marisol and Brianna, as they finally got around to reading Station Eleven and Educated, respectively. Be sure to keep an eye out for more installments in this series throughout the year!
And now, your questions: What books are you hoping to finally get around to reading? What is the longest a book has sat on your shelf unread? What’s up next for you? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader!