A few weeks ago, I discussed the benefits of getting your next favorite book from an independent bookstore, but what about independent authors? Until I read an independently published book, I did not realize how much I had been neglecting these books as a source of literary pleasure. I also realized that most new literature that I encounter is marketed for me to find it, and I had not read many works by independent authors before. So, feeling the need to expand my horizons, I read a novel entitled “The Vanirim” by an Australian author, Tim Slee.
One of the ways that I find new and sometimes lesser-known books to read, including “The Vanirim,” is through a website called Goodreads. Goodreads is a great resource to browse authors, see upcoming publications, keep track of the books you’ve read or want to read, and even enter giveaways for free books from publishers. Goodreads is also an easy way to make reading more sociable; it is like a book club in your pocket! You can add friends, follow updates from authors, and leave reviews of what you have read. It is a nice feeling when someone interacts with your reviews or learns of a new and interesting book because you shared it with them. Goodreads helped me find independent books and it is an amazing resource for avid readers.
Back to “The Vanirim,” it is a unique and original sci-fi novel that won the Booklife Prize in 2016. The Booklife Prize, mentioned in my last article about independent bookstores, is an award given to the best independent fiction writer of the year. Reading this book was greatly beneficial to me as a reader as well as a prospective writer, not only because of its attributes but also in the areas that it needed work. I noticed while reading this book that some of the writing had small errors, overused repetition, and a couple of confusing segments. But, this did not deter me from reading; in fact, it allowed me to feel closer to the author and respect how hard it is to actually create a novel, let alone get it published. It was encouraging to see the potential that the Booklife Prize judges saw in Slee’s novel. The recognition of authors for their hard work is extremely beneficial for other young writers to see.
This novel also definitely had incredible qualities. “The Vanirim” creates a whole futuristic world, one which to me was entirely original and was a breath of fresh air in the sci-fi genre. The novel follows a human character living in a post-war world governed by mythical Norse Vanir. The main character has also undergone a treatment performed by the Vanirim that is supposed to make him unable to feel emotion, a punishment for a crime he supposedly committed in the past. This character, devoid of conventional emotion, was one of the most compelling characters I have ever encountered. All of the characters are well thought out and the plot leaves the reader on edge throughout; not quite letting on exactly who is responsible for certain events.
This book is the first in a trilogy, and, since winning the prize, the first novel is more readily available. After finishing the first one and being enthralled with the story, I noticed that the author had a Facebook page that could receive messages. I decided to ask how to best purchase the second novel and within a day the author replied, telling me about a purchasing option as well as a way to get a free electronic copy. It was super cool to communicate directly with the author as well as to let him know I enjoyed his book. Reading books by independent authors is sure to broaden your literary experiences, help your community, and hopefully have a positive effect on how you think about writing and reading!