Weekend Reading: “The Book of Speculation”

Welcome Autumn! Welcome, please take a seat and bring your smells, food and light into my house and heart.

It’s not surprising that I am in the middle of some much needed emotional Autumn. By that, I mean I really need the trees to change color, the pumpkins to ripen, the weather to freaking change and so on. Summer is the worst season for me, and I am so so ready for it to be over. I need some milder temps.

Pictured: “The Potions Master Socks” knitted by myself, “The Book of Speculation” written by Erika Swyler

So it shouldn’t be surprising that I am reading all the things that pertain to fall or the fantastical. This is how I welcome the change (as a person that’s usually adverse to change, this is very mature of me, I think) Fall is the perfect time to really dig into a new book. I wonder if it has something to do with the start of the school season and the need to find some quiet reflection in our lives. It feels like we haven’t stopped all year. Autumn is a good time to slow down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. (Or if you’re me, slow down and enjoy some autonomous “me” time)

I enjoy literary books that dabble in something magical. While, I love the occasional science fiction/ fantasy novel, they’re really not my wheelhouse. I tend to reach more toward the Gothic. I enjoy reading about “real” people in strange situations. I love the mystery and the fear if they’re going to make it out alive or not.

This week I’ve been reading The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. It has been hitting all of my buttons for a good gothicy fiction. There is mystery, magic and and a lot of self discovery. The book is split between parallel narratives, a beginning of a curse and an end of one. What flows through the story and narratives is magic, mermaids and the sense of loss and healing. Forgive me for being vague. It’s intentional, because I want you to read this book.

The Book of Speculation focuses on Simon Watson, an eccentric and quiet reference librarian who comes into possession of a record/diary of an eighteenth century carnival. The more he studies the book, the more mysteries it reveals. Eventually it becomes clear that the mysteries in the book are vitally important to his survival. Some reviewers have found Simon to be boring or annoying, but that’s probably what i like best about him. He is a freaking reference librarian. Living a librarians life. Full stop. I am fond of his disfunction. His sister, Enola, is my spirit animal. Holy crap. I love this woman and wish I had her sense of adventure and nature. Enola is much darker than Simon is. She is much more talented and world wise than he is as well. I love their oil and water relationship. (If you’re wondering, Enola is the oil)

My one critique is that the novel ties up a little too neatly in the end. I love suspending disbelief and thinking of the fantastic, but even I have limits when it’s a “real world” we’re working with. Over all though, this book was about family. How we choose our own families, how they choose us, and how we continue to live with them long after they’re gone. Families can be tricky. Families are our foundation.

I hope that you enjoy this book, should it find it’s way onto your shelf.


Published by BrandieKnits

I am a reader of many beautiful things, a fantastic knitter and a lover of wine. I love writing stories. I am a daydreamer and very neurotic, but my husband married me anyway. Bless that man. Really, I am just a girl who finally figured out what she wants in life.

One thought on “Weekend Reading: “The Book of Speculation”

  1. It’s nice to find someone who also dislikes summer! Also, I’ll check out your book recommendation; I like that sort of book as well. Have you read: Bellefluer by Joyce Carol Oates, Little, Big or the Aegypt series by John Crowley, or Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel by Susannah Clarke? I immediately thought of all of those as I was reading your review. 🙂

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