10 Epistolary Books To Add To Your Winter Reading List

10 Epistolary Books To Add To Your Winter Reading List

Because prose is overrated.
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With the cold and snow outside driving you indoors, it is finally time to make a dent in that reading list you've been meaning to knock out -- but you just don't have the patience for those long passages of unbroken prose that make every page look exactly like the last. If that doesn't put you to sleep, you have to turn back and reread each paragraph over and over in order to absorb anything!

What you need is a book that can mix things up a little -- a new form, a different method of storytelling. What you need is the epistolary novel! Epistolary novels are books that tell a story through found documents instead of prose -- like diaries, newspaper clippings, emails, or even transcribed audios. This form of narrative is great for genres like mystery, science fiction, and horror, given the strength of the epistolary is to make the story more "tangible" or "real" through these interactive documents.

Here is a list of classic and contemporary epistolary novels that you should include on your winter reading list this year.

"Frankenstein," by Mary Shelley

Out of Shelley's dreams comes the tale of Frankenstein, the scientist that took his work too far. This classic is told in a framing narrative from the letter correspondences between Captain Robert Walton and his sister after stumbling upon Dr. Frankenstein in the frozen wastes of the Arctic.

"Carrie," by Stephen King

King's first and most famous novel, "Carrie," is a terrifying story that will leave you relieved that your high school experience was not nearly so eventful or tragic. Newspaper articles and diary entries are the main form of narration.

"Bridget Jones' Diary," by Helen Fielding

Thirty-something Bridget Jones writes in her diary about the struggles of getting older, attempting to self-improve, and being tragically single. Her true-to-life narration comes in the form of sarcastic rambles and earnest bulleted lists of things she needs to do.

"World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War," by Max Brooks

After the zombie apocalypse, Max Brooks explores the world left behind and records interviews with survivors that tell their story of the spread of the virus that nearly destroyed humanity.

"The Martian," by Andy Weir

An astronaut must survive more than a year on Mars after he is accidentally left on the planet by his team. His struggle for survival is recorded in daily log books and video recordings that he makes to help keep himself sane when he thinks he has been left for dead.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," by Mark Haddon

Fifteen-year-old Christopher is on a mission to solve the murder of his neighbor's dog. His favorite book character and idol, Sherlock Holmes, is Christopher's inspiration and drive to put this mystery to rest. The novel can partly be considered epistolary given Christopher's personal quirks and speculated Asperger's syndrome, which manifest in ways like chapter labeling in prime numbers.

"The Supernatural Enhancements," by Edgar Cantero

This book is a creepy tale of distant relatives inheriting a haunted house. The opening of the book declares that the book is composed of a collection of documents with footnotes from the author that are otherwise unedited. Also, the first page is missing ...

"Fan Mail," by Ronald Munson

This mystery thriller is told entirely through faxes, emails, memos, and phone messages of a popular TV anchorwoman as she tries to discover the identity of her twisted stalker, The Watcher.

"Dracula," by Bram Stoker

The classic vampire tale that will chill you to the bone -- there are no sparkling vegetarians here. Dracula is the straight-up disgusting undead creature that you should definitely be afraid of. This story is completely epistolary, with each narrating character telling the story in a unique way, from letters and newspaper clips to phonograph recordings.

"Illuminae," by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This sci-fi thriller takes place in the future where planets are owned by mega corporations and a war in space is about to break out. It's truly a feat in creative storytelling, as the entire narrative is presented in found documents, with the extra dimension of redacted vital information. It's a space mystery!

Cover Image Credit: WallpapersCraft.com

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Elliot Stabler, We Miss You

Not all heroes wear capes.
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In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. The victims of these vicious felonies are saved by two heroes who do not wear capes: Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson.

The King and Queen of New York, Detectives Benson and Stabler not only save the day but entertain me through weekends and procrastination. If you are a fan of the show you know Elliot Stabler leaves "Law and Order: SVU" after 12 wonderful seasons. It shall go down as one of the saddest days of the 21st century.

Elliot Stabler was not one for easy hearts. He was violent and angry but he cared about the people he loved. You couldn't help but love his many kids and wife at home even though you would never stop hoping that he and Olivia Benson would get together. One of the great things and something I miss most is how Olivia and Elliot worked so well together and their chemistry was bouncing more than Cardi B at Coachella. And although at times it may seem as if maybe there might be a chance you know deep down the greatest love was that of a partner.



I mean, come on. Look how cute. The banter, the sly eye contact, be still my beating heart.

Detective Stabler, I miss your violent outbursts. You were a hot-headed detective who sometimes didn't know your limits. That's why you were such a great character to watch. We never knew how far you would go to help a victim. You were interesting. You loved your job yet struggled with it. You cared about your co-workers yet you were selfish. You wanted to help the victims who had been hurt yet you would hurt others to help them.

You tell em' Stabler!

Can we all take a moment to appreciate a shirtless Elliot Stabler? Although the show is still going strong, you are missed, detective. How could we forget all the good and bad times together?

Cover Image Credit: NBC Universal

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