Getting ready for the holidays. Ambiguous and unresolved ending. We recommend The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.
The Holidays are Here!
Ann and I spent much of last week traveling around to tell bookstore customers and staff about the big books coming out for the holidays. Ann has started making her gift list and I’ve already started shopping. It truly looks like it’s going to be an amazing year for books as gifts.
This year, we’ll be doing something a little different for the BOTNS Gift Guide. It will be smaller, with personal blurbs from Ann and me. We’re calling it Books on the Nightstand’s 12 Books* of Christmas, and it will be published no later than Friday November 28th.
*each (so that will be 24 personally selected titles)
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.
Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.
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Wait… What Just Happened?! (08:48)
In one of my book presentations I described a book as having an ambiguous ending, and Ann noticed that a member of the audience wrinkled her nose. She knew right away it would be a great discussion. I immediately wanted to differentiate between two different kinds of endings (which I think might often get confused): ambiguous endings, where the author leaves some, or much, of the story’s end to the readers’ imaginations; and unresolved endings, in which you know exactly what happens to their characters but the story doesn’t fully resolve the issues raised by the plot. Ann and I both agree that ambiguous endings, that are done well, can enhance and extend the experience of the book. Unresolved endings may seem frustrating but, because lives are rarely tied up neatly, they are more realistic.
Another thing we discussed was the importance of discussion in helping some readers “come to terms” with ambiguous or unresolved endings. These types of books make for great book group selections. And online groups, like those on Goodreads, can serve that purpose for those not reading as part of group.
Some of the books we discussed:
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (unresolved)
- The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (ambiguous)
- The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go (ambiguous)
We welcome your comments about ambiguous and unresolved endings both in the comments below, and at the thread we’ve started on our Goodreads group discussion board. We think spoilers should be allowed in these discussions, but please do put SPOILER ALERT at the top of your comment if you’re truly giving away a plot point, and not just the fact the book has an ambiguous or unresolved ending.
Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (25:16)
I’ve converted Ann! She recommends a book about comic books!! (Not really, but close) Historian Jill Lepore has written what Ann calls a “general book of awesomeness.” In The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Lepore looks at the creation of Wonder Woman, the life of the man who created her, and the role of feminism in the 20th-century.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber is a nearly impossible book to describe. At its heart it is the story of a man whose two most vital relationships, the one with his wife, and the one with his faith. Both of these relationships are being tested as never before. A recent article in the New York Times gives a wonderful look at Michel Faber, the writing of this book, and the tragic events that both informed this book and led to him saying that this will be his last novel.