What I’m Reading Now: The Underground Railroad

Have you ever read one of those books that haunted you with its beautiful yet brutal story? That kept you spellbound with terse sentences that depicted the scenes better with words not said? Hemingway did it. Now I count The Underground Railroad as another. I mean, look at this:

The slave catcher had little choice but to call upon the man after midnight. He daintily sewed their hoods from white sacks of flour but could barely move his fingers after their visit–his fists swelled for two days from beating the man’s face in.

The Underground Railroad

By Colson Whitehead

Short description: a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

In this story, the underground railroad is a real thing: with steam trains, conductors and engineers and secret codes. Cora, the protagonist, goes through stations in her bid for freedom and encounters a version of America as it might have been. The South and North Carolina she encounters aren’t “real” in the sense of historical accuracy. Yet it terrifies you with its ring of truth and plausibility.


What I’m Reading Now: The Martian and Good Morning, Midnight

When it comes to popular fiction, I tend to be the most conservative and hesitant. It’s probably due to me knowing if I like something, I’ll go too deep too fast. Just look at my Harry Potter obsession years. That said, I do try to expand my reading horizons.

This year I decided to read more Sci-Fi. Besides classic Jules Verne tales like ‘Around the World in Eighty Days‘ and ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’, and Ender’s Game, most of the stories I’ve encountered in the genre left me wondering: “Why do people like this so much, why is it a classic, I don’t understand!” I wanted to know if I was just bad at picking the good stuff.

So far, two books stand out. Both I’d classify as Sci-Fi, but not the same type. The Martian is the kind that strives for technical accuracy. Good Morning, Midnight uses space travel and apocalyptic circumstances as a backdrop to study characters. (more…)