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30 Day Book Challenge – [Day 1]

The Best Book You Read This Year

I don’t want to give props to a book that has already been flogged to death with praise (by myself included), so I don’t want to say that the best book I read this year was As I Lay Dying by Faulkner. It was, but I’m going to be talking about my second favorite book of the year. It’s a new book called Bright Before Us by Katie Arnold-Ratliff. The story is about a 2nd Grade teacher who–while on a field trip with his students–finds a dead body (a jumper from the Golden Gate Bridge) and has a mini-meltdown.

The glowing thing about this book is the inventive language used to describe people, actions, and images. In a world where it feels like our language is being continually bastardized, truncated, and abridged, it’s a relief to find an author so close to my age who knows the ins and outs of language and shows us that it can still do something to make us feel, to make us see. And for this, I give this book as much support as possible and say that if anyone is looking for their next book to read, this one should be it.

Some examples of the inventive language:

“…birds alighted between the splayed spikes meant to deter them.”

“You pushed tears away with the butt of your hand, eye makeup striping your wrist.”

“In the vista beneath us were hundreds of gravestones, sprouting from the hills like teeth.”

“You glanced around like a spooked horse, trying to catch the eye of someone in charge.”

“I watched the cars pass, the fierce red glow of their brake lights irradiating the classroom.”

These are only a few examples from the book, but to go on longer would probably just beleaguer the point. So, hopefully I piqued your interest here. Buy the book. Read it. You won’t regret it.

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