Collage of book covers: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce; Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz; The Drowning People by Richard Mason; Normal People by Sally Rooney; A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson; Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

6 Degrees of Separation

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books.

This month we start with Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, which was My Most Surprising Read of 2022.

Zevin’s powerful novel made me consciously re-examine how I read fiction, and I began putting together a list of books that, at various times in my life, have changed the way I read fiction.

The first book on that list is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. In this autobiographical novel Joyce portrays the maturation of Stephen Dedalus from a child into a young man. I read this book my freshman year of college, at the same time that I, like Stephen, was struggling to separate from my family and establish my own sense of identity. This novel taught me how personally affecting good fiction can be.

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz is another book on that same list. This novel showed me the potential of the narrative structure I call the downward spiral. The narrative begins in a wide circle around the main event, then spirals downward, getting ever closer to the crucial information. This novel also opened my eyes to the power of multiple points of view, in which various characters each contribute to the reader’s understanding of the crucial event.

Repetition of a key word in the title leads me to The Drowning People, Richard Mason’s remarkable debut novel of doomed love amid the expectations of family and of upper-class British society.

Another turn of word repetition brings me to Normal People by Sally Rooney. I include this novel to remind myself that it is still on my TBR shelf, begging for attention.

Since I’m having such good luck with repetition of a key word in the title, let’s do it again. A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson explores how far individuals are willing to go to protect the integrity of their family.

Ann Patchett’s recent novel Tom Lake presents the closest thing to a normal family that I’ve seen in recent fiction.

Looking over this list, I realize that these books all share one common theme: They are all, in some way, a love story.

Where did your 6 Degrees of Separation list take you this month?

© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown

9 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation”

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Anne. And I greatly enjoyed your clever list, using all those Shakespearean connections.

  1. What an interesting way to start your chain – how that book impressed you, and made you make a list of books to revisit! Obviously, if you hadn’t read the starter book you couldn’t do that. I might steal this idea from you! Very impressive.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Davida. Sometimes I struggle to find ways to connect books for this exercise. But this month really was a case of synchronicity for me, as I’ve been pondering this question for about 3 or 4 weeks now.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Marina Sofia. I always enjoy reading your posts because your reading is so much more international than mine.

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