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Friday Fun: Sword & Silk Staff Recs- Nicole

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to the end of another week. Today we are continuing in our Staff Recommendations series with a selection of picks from our resident Submissions Intern Nicole Bezanson. So drop in and get to know Nicole a little better with her 'Save from a Fire' Pile

Nicole's Staff Recs

Hello! Here's a little about each book I've picked and some background info, etc.

I definitely have a "save from a fire" pile of books that hold a special spot on my shelf, either because of sentimental value or because they are one-of-a-kind. While there were several stories that made the shortlist of what to include in my "save from a fire" pile (Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, The Malady by Andrzej Sapkowski, and my special edition of Pride and Prejudice, for example), these five books have traveled with me for a long time and shaped me into the kind of reader and writer I am today.

Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting

I was an adult when I read this story and I never thought it would hit me as hard as it did. As a grown person suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues, I had always considered what it would be like to not have a constant preoccupation with death and dying. This story really helped me understand a few things about myself and my processing mechanisms, and learn that you don't have to live forever, you just have to live. That quote is on my website front and center, and I believe it encapsulates a lot of what I was looking for in my life at the time I picked it up.

Wendy Mass' A Mango-Shaped Space

I have never cried while reading so much as I did reading this book, and it totally cemented for me my desire to share and write stories that are harder to tell, with deep emotional impact, but also notes of hope and optimism. I actually read this story while my old cat was very ill, and some of the scenes in the story affected me deeply and the way I processed having him in my life, much as with the main character and her cat, Mango. This book definitely gave me the space to process what I was going through as an adult, but also encouraged me to try my hand at writing for a younger age group than what I had previously been attempting. I think it really helped me find the kind of voice I was looking for in my middle-grade stories.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go

This book was the first to find a home on my "save in a fire" pile, and it hasn't left since. There's something about the careful worldbuilding of the story, the depth of the characters, and the thought put into the voice that's always stuck with me and made this book one I read over and over again. I have always aimed to write with the same ability as Ishiguro, to tell a story that people connect with on such a deep level, and have something about my own style that resonates with readers in different places in their lives.

Emma Donoghue's Slammerkin

This book was given to me as a gift from a friend who was cleaning out her house to move across the country, and it immediately grabbed me from the summary on the back of the book. There's a certain gift that Donoghue has for writing a story that's always interested me, with heavy emotions and rounded characters. I loved reading Room, and the way that it haunted me was unique to any other story, but Slammerkin still stays as my favorite Donoghue book that I pull off the shelf over and over again, wishing that my writing could match the historical background and the beautiful tone of what's been described as a modern classic.

My personalized Create-a-Book

My late mother had a book made for me when I was two that's almost like a fill-in-the-blanks puzzle. From what I understand, the story is already set and you complete options for name, age, and location of the person you'd like to have written about, as well as a variety of other blanks. The story was then printed out and bound as a hardcover for the individual to give as a gift. I've had my copy of the Create-a-Book ever since I was small, and it's traveled with me around the province through various moves, different houses, and lots of different circumstances. There's something nostalgic about having this memory of her, starting off my gift for stories and love of books early, reminding me of the days we would spend at the local "beach" watching ducks.

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