The other day I was perusing the blogs I am subscribed to and came across a post so original I knew I had to do something similar. It was titled “Alex’s Alphabetical!” and was created by the lovely Alex over at the paperback piano. You should totally check out her blog. She creates amazing content, writes excellent reviews, and takes stunning photos of books!
The concept is pretty straightforward. You are supposed to pick your favorite book, author, and character for each letter of the alphabet. Since this is my first post doing the Alphabetical, here are my picks for the letter “A”.
Favorite author beginning with “A”
Ali Smith: I didn’t have to look for very long through my virtual Goodreads shelves because this name quickly popped up, and I just knew that I had to pick this author.
Ali Smith is a Scottish writer born in Inverness in 1962. She studied at Aberdeen, and then Cambridge for a PhD she never concluded. She was a lecturer at Strathclyde University but decided to abandon this position and dedicated herself to writing. Smith is an advocate for “silent diseases,” drawing from her experience suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. She is openly gay and lives with her partner, to whom she dedicates all the books the writes.
The first book I read of hers was Girl Meets Boy and it absolutely blowed my mind. I had never read anything like it, and I fell in love from the first page. Smith’s characters are vivid, well-crafted, and a delight to read about. Her plot always centers around quite mundane events, but she manages to add a magical and surrealistic element to it that makes them all the more special.
Smith is my favorite short-story writer. I can never get enough of her short stories, and I’m not one to gravitate towards this genre. Every story has an innovative and special touch to it, and I particularly love the plot and settings she comes up with.
I have included pictures of my favorite books of hers, as well as links to their Goodreads page and where you can buy them (Book Depository, using my affiliate links). I really hope you give Ali Smith a shot — you will probably not be disappointed!
Girl Meets Boy — Goodreads & Buy it /// How to Be Both — Goodreads & Buy it /// The Accidental — Goodreads & Buy it /// Autumn — Goodreads & Buy it /// Hotel World — Goodreads & Buy it /// Public Library and other stories — Goodreads & Buy it /// The Whole Story and other stories — Goodreads & Buy it /// The First Person and other stories — Goodreads & Buy it
Favorite book beginning with “A”
This is a book I hold very close to my heart, and it is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It follows two young Nigerian people, a boy named Obinze and a girl names Ifemelu. With a Nigeria under a military dictatorship and whoever has the means fleeing the country, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. The novel examines their relationship from teenagers in Lagos, to their separation by an Ocean. Ifemelu leaves her Nigeria to go to America, and Obinze — unable to join her after 9/11 — is left behind. Adichie tells the story of two people who were separated and their lives apart.
I absolutely love love love this novel and I can’t recommend it enough. Americanah is so much more than a love story; it is a look into post-9/11 America, race and identity, politics, coming of age in a different culture, and undocumented immigration.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a brilliant writer, and in all her books and essays you can clearly tell that she is very much aware of racial disparities around her. One of the aspects of Americanah that stood out to me the most was the difference between being black in Nigeria, and being black in America. Being black in America, and in particular being African American is incredibly politicized, and every aspect in society is scrutinized to the tiniest detail possible. When Ifemelu arrives in America, she begins to understand that the color of her skin is not just that — like it was in her home country, — but it serves as a distinct marker of culture, place in society, and is a starting point for discrimination. I had never looked at this issue like this, and Adichie made me think about it in a different way — and for that I am grateful.
You can buy Americanah using my affiliate link by clicking here.
Favorite character beginning with “A”
This category is pretty difficult for me, so I probably missed a lot of characters I like whose names start with “A”. I have terrible memory and can’t recall characters’ names (or any names, really) from the top of my head. But I have tried my best and came up with two characters.
The first one is Atticus Finch, from Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Every person in the English-speaking world has probably heard of Atticus Finch, even if only in high school. He is the widowed single father of the two main characters, Jem and Scout, and an attorney in Alabama during 1930s. The focus of the novel’s plot is the trial of a black man named Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman. Atticus Finch is Tom’s lawyer, fighting in court against prejudice and bias and advocating for a fair trial.
I love Atticus for his eloquence, his desire to be there for his children and be a great dad, but above all for his unshakable morals. While everyone is caught up in the frenzy of the trial, Atticus remains cool-headed and never stops following his moral compass. His integrity is admirable, and I have never stopped practicing what he preaches — to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
You can buy To Kill a Mockingbird using my affiliate link by clicking here.
The second character I picked is a bundle of adorableness, Aristotle from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle is one of the main characters of the novel, which follows the life of two Hispano American boys growing up in El Paso, Texas. Aristotle’s brother is in prison, his dad served in the war and won’t talk much to his family, and his mother is the only “sane” one in the family. Everything starts one day at the pool, where Aristotle’s bond with Dante is formed. The novel tells their coming of age, following their struggles to accept the way the world sees them, and how they see themselves.
I adore Ari because I can see that he is in so much pain throughout the novel. I understand where his anger and refusal to connect with others comes from, and his action are justifiable in my opinion. Ari is one of those characters you want to hold in your arms and promise that everything will be okay, that there’s nothing to fear.
His growth arch in this novel is stupendous, and I admire the writer for creating two Latino characters so strong and free of stereotypes. This novel is simply fantastic, and I can’t recommend it enough.
You can buy Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by clicking here.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and don’t forget to check out the original written by Alex! I think I will keep doing this series because it was a lot of fun trying to come up with characters, authors, and books to fit the letter “A”!