Six Degrees of Separation: From The Tipping Point to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

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Happy Sunday! Today has been the epitome of a relaxing Sunday, but has been incredibly productive as well. I finally got through the mountain of dishes that had managed to pile up and stuck some washing on, and Craig prepped and cooked lunch for the week (Chinese black bean chicken) and tonight’s dinner (beef empanadas). It’s just about 4pm and we’ve been done with everything for three hours. The rest of the night consists of writing this post, doing some preliminary planning for a Summer Reading Challenge for my S1s, watching GBBO, painting my nails, and eating fabulous food.

I’ve not participated in Six Degrees of Separation before, but the rules are easy, so I figured I’d give it a go. This is hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Stop by, say hey.

So! What is #6degrees all about? This meme takes place once monthly, with the starting book being chosen and revealed on the first Saturday of the month. In Kate’s own words: Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal or esoteric ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

You can participate on your own blog and pop your post in the comments on Kate’s post here, and there’s even a hashtag on Twitter (#6degrees).

On we go!

So – we’re starting this month with The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell’s second book, Outliers, was released in November 2008, during my three-year stint working for Borders Books and Music. It was (and still is, ranking at #1,217 in ALL of Amazon’s book sales) extremely popular, and because of that, The Tipping Point could not escape my notice. I’ve never read it myself, but my time at Borders consisted honestly of some of the best years at my life, and that can be attributed largely to my manager, Brian. Brian will hold a special place in my reading heart forever. The first book he ever recommended to me was Swan Song by Robert McCammon, and I loved it so much that after that, I bought every book he recommended without question.

From The Tipping Point then, we’re moving onto Swan Song, by Robert McCammon. Probably his most prolific work, Swan Song is a post-apocalypic epic that follows a host of unique and wonderful characters in America in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. The fate of the entire country rests on the shoulders of a small girl named Swan.

The weight on the shoulders of young Swan can only be bested by the weight on the shoulders of Amy, the main protagonist in my favourite trilogy ever, The Passage, by Justin Cronin. The two books are related in more ways than just having a child protagonist: both are post-apocalyptic horror novels, and both have characters that I would lie in front of a train to protect. The Passage‘s apocalypse is spurred on by a governmental drug experiment that’s presented as ‘for the good of humanity’ as a cure for disease, but is actually an attempt at creating super soldiers.

This element – the American government misrepresenting their true aims – brings me to Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvellSleeping Giants is the first in the Themis Files Trilogy, which I’ve just finished (it’s amazing, you should all go read it now). Neuvell steers himself away from typical novel style, and writes the entire series as a collection of ‘files,’ including interviews, journal entries, mission logs, etc.

Breaking away from standard literary fiction style pops me over to Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn. The book takes place on the island of Nollop, the citizens of which hold The Great Nevin Nollop in extremely high esteem for bestowing upon them his pangram, ‘The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over The Lazy Dog,’ which is said to be the shortest sentence to contain every letter of the alphabet at least once. The sentence has been adorned on a statue of Nollop, and when letters start dropping off, the Council outlaws the fallen characters from writing and speech. Told in a series of letters (which become harder to read as the letters on the statue continue to fall), Ella Minnow Pea follows Ella as she tries to save her island from existing in total silence.

The fifth book on our Six Degrees tour is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This one is also told in letters between Juliet Ashton and the residents of Guernsey beginning in January 1946. As the letters continue, Juliet finds herself drawn to this island and its people in a truly heartwarming and joyous story.

And finally, our sixth degree is here. Every time I look at the cover of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I’m reminded of the cover of Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which is green with a red postage stamp, and also happens to have the word ‘pie’ in its title. Sweetness is the first in Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, and I’m absolutely obsessed with the story and its characters.

And that’s the end of June’s Six Degrees of Separation! Let me know what you think of my train of thought, and make sure you comment with your posts so I can check out your list!

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