Life-Changing Novels (LCN) Mondays: Animal Dreams

Because Mondays statistically are low-motivation days for me (and everyone else), I’ve decided to set a topic for all Monday posts. Having a set topic for Mondays should improve the quality of posts; there are going to be fewer posts in the “fml” and “uninspired and pessimistic” categories. So from now on, every Monday will feature a “life changing” book, a book that made me feel different. These books are easy for me to write about; life changing books were the original motivation behind this blog. For all of you looking for book recommendations, please know that I highly, highly recommend all of these novels.

So here’s the first ever LCN Monday:

This cover equates to nostalgia. For me, at least.Animal Dreams is, I think, one of Barbara Kingsolver's lesser-known novels. It was published in an interesting time period for Kingsolver's narrative voice, a transition between her quirky, witty narration in The Bean Trees and her more serious, more sincere voice in The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna. In Animal Dreams, she combines the wit and hilarity of her earlier novels with the sincerity and thoughtfulness of her later novels, producing an overwhelmingly beautiful work. Her unique skill with imagery shows itself in every chapter, and her ability to weave intriguing and utterly relatable tales shines through the entire novel.

One recurring theme within Animal Dreams is the invulnerability of the transient. That is, if one is not attached too strongly to a place or person, one cannot be seriously hurt. The troubled protagonist, Cosima Noline, is a perpetual arriver, leaver, traveler. She has never idled too long in a town or occupation, in fear of becoming too attached. This philosophy applies to her personal relationships as well, excepting her relationship with her sister.

This philosophy really bothered me. Because I realized that I had a similar way of thinking. Moving from state to state, never actually settling anywhere, got me accustomed to not truly knowing anyone. And when we finally moved to Georgia and actually settled in, everything changed. Because finally everything had stopped changing. And then of course, we moved again.

I know that Animal Dreams is flawed. One common complaint is that it is just too sad. But it is one of those books. Those books that aren't perfect, yet you call them your favorite books because they seem to have been written specifically for you.

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