Project Bookshelf: Kayla Howell

Choosing a favorite book is like choosing a favorite child. It is really, really hard to do.

One series I’ve been really into lately is the A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. I’ve never been much of a fantasy or romance reader, but something about these books really captured my heart. I think it has something to do with the fast-paced action sequences and the discussions of hard things, like the effects of trauma and familial relations. I also really loved the characters in this series; I think they were written really well and I could hear their voices in my head as I read through their conversations.

I recently took a class where we looked at and analyzed the presence os suspicion and paranoia in American literature. My favorite novels of the whole course were Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. Studying these works and how the emotions of the characters drove their thought processes and actions was so interesting to me. It opened up a whole new lens for me to read through.

If I had to pick a favorite book or series of all time, I would say that I couldn’t do it. And then, I would inevitably bring up The Gunslinger and the entire Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’ve never read anything quite like these books. They are a mix of Western, science fiction, romance, adventure, drama, and horror. I can’t think of another series where an author blended so many genres so seamlessly. It is, in my opinion, incredible, and I would urge everyone to read them. No matter how much I talk about them, there is nothing like experiencing it for yourself.

My “To-Be Read” shelf in my office is starting to overflow. I have it somewhat organized, but the books keep piling up. It features some classics I’ve never gotten around to reading, like Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), and Beloved (Toni Morrison). I’ve heard wonderful things about each of these, and there is a reason they are still studied in classrooms today.

My “TBR” shelf also features some books from more recent years (or, have recently gained popularity). I am looking forward to reading Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller because I am heavily interested in Greek mythology and modern iterations of popularized myth. I also have some poetry books I’m looking forward to reading, like The January Children by Safia Elhillo and the lavender haze by June Bates.

Kayla Howell (she/ they) is an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville studying Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry. She is a regular at the community’s open mics and loves collaborating with other writers. She enjoys hanging out with her two dogs- Lionel and Lucille, listening to podcasts while she bakes, and playing Dungeons & Dragons.

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