Reed’s Top Ten Works of Fiction Consumed in the Past Year

Trigger Warning: Entry number three on this list will briefly mention themes of sexual assault

  1. Raw – A perfect film.  Julia Ducournau’s metaphor for sexual awakening has no flaws or imperfections.  Along with containing indelible imagery and outstanding performances, it portrays one of the best representations of a sibling relationship I’ve ever seen on film.
  2. The Red Tent – Anita Diamant writes anew the story of Dinah and gives her life and character a depth and complexity missing from the Book of Genesis.  A moving celebration of womanhood and intercultural relations, overflowing with love and spirituality.  I felt the Spirit move in this one.
  3. Legion: Chapter 12 – A stunning episode of television that explores the trauma of rape with grace, dignity, and unflinching honesty.  Ellen Kuras directs and thus removes the male gaze for technically brilliant work.  An absolute triumph of survival, reconciliation, and self-acceptance.
  4. Gone Home – A beautiful tale about love and identity, this interactive story, which largely concerns  Sam Greenbriar’s romance with her girlfriend Lonnie and the subsequent impact of her parents discovering the relationship, is a knock-out, executed with great feeling and care.
  5. Hereditary – Ari Aster’s debut feature about a grieving family experiencing paranormal activity is at times almost unbearably scary and unflinchingly bleak.  It also is familiar and even relatable in how it portrays family dynamics after a serious trauma.  I appreciated what it had to say on how we cope with the undesirable qualities we’ve inherited from our family.
  6. Arrival – A mind-bending tale from director Denis Villeneuve that uses a story about alien invasion to meditate on grief, choice, and the importance of effective communication.  An all-time lead performance by Amy Adams.  Get the tissues for this one.
  7. Many Waters – Madeleine L’Engle writes a novel that seems like an intriguing thought experiment: What if you plucked two boys from the late 20th-century and placed them in the company of Noah and his family at the dawn of the flood?  What results is a descriptive and cathartic work that is bursting with life and love for its characters, especially women otherwise silenced by biblical texts.
  8. Her Story – The player of this video game from Sam Barlow is investigating a murder by perusing old interview footage of a suspect.  The catch?  The video software is antiquated and so new clips of interview tape can only surface if a new word contained in a clip is input into the system.  A simple but effective concept that leads to an engrossing mystery, with keen insights into self-mythologizing and the need for human connection.
  9. The X-Files: The Erlenmeyer Flask – A paranoid spy thriller of a television episode.  Relentless and emblematic of the show’s themes of government mistrust.  Full of iconic imagery, this is where it started to seem like the show was something special.
  10. Detention – A side-scrolling PC game notable for its creative aesthetic, nightmarish imagery, and insights into living under authoritarian rule, Detention tracks the plight of two students living under the White Terror in 1960s Taiwan who find themselves in an unusual predicament.  Well-written, with an unsettling ending.


Reed Lawson
Reed Lawson is a first-year student at Wake Forest School of Divinity. He enjoys all things pop culture, tabulating baseball statistics, and spending time with his wife and one-year-old son.

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