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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book Recommendations: Spring 2017

By now, you all know the drill: I'm going to come in here and say something about how I don't review things anymore, but still want to share all these great reads with you. And I've read some good things lately.

So here we are.

Perks of spending an hour on public transit several times a week for an entire semester? You get to read a lot of things. Here are some of the best things. Enjoy.

And I Darken by Kiersten White

I love historical fiction, and I love high fantasy. This book reads like both in one. While it's not strictly historical (it's an alternate history about a female Vlad the Impaler), it takes you to a period of history that hasn't yet been over-saturated with novels. Plus, it boasts an awesome female character and some intense character development. I read it in one sitting. Okay, I was on a plane, but still.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This modern classic is beautiful, insightful, and, most of all, absolutely and utterly devastating in a way that somehow gave me hope. I was not prepared for this roller coaster of a book, but I can't stop thinking about it even four months after reading. It takes an honest look at culture, loss, and humanity in a way that makes it one of the most poignant books I've read in a long time, possibly ever. (Also recommended but not quite as good: Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns.)

Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn saga

Are you an absolute nerd for fantasy worldbuilding so solid, you could drive a tank through it and it wouldn't fall apart? Do you want plot twists that are so good that you become uncontrollably angry? Are you in need of a good cry? Have you been disappointed by high fantasy trilogies/series that build and build with no payoff? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read the high fantasy embodiment of the they crave that mineral meme? Do you wish that the ending of Lucy actually made sense? Do you want me to shut up? Mistborn is the series for you, my friend.

But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman
I've gone to bookstores with friends a few times since reading this, and each time I see it, I pick it up, hand to said friend, and say, "This messed me up. Read it." It's been almost six months since I read this, and I still think about it on a frequent basis. Klosterman analyzes basic concepts that we take for granted (everything from "good" art to democracy to physics to the NFL) and dares to consider the idea that we're completely, utterly wrong about its value. After all, physicists spent thousands of years thinking that the sun revolved around the earth. Who's to say that our current understanding is any more correct? I'll leave you with that.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
This is the kind of book that haunts you in the best way possible. It's partly a coming-of-age story, partly a love story, and partly a story of the way we connect across our differences. It's also a story of subtle magic. It's difficult to describe, but definitely worth the experience. If nothing else, it's worth it for the lovely prose.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Despite the fact that everyone freaked out about Code Name Verity back in 2012, this one somehow flew under the radar.* While it doesn't have the complexity of Code Name Verity, it carries the same emotional and historical weight. It's difficult to capture the emotion of a concentration camp situation, but Elizabeth Wein succeeds at this. Pick this up for all your women fighter pilot story needs.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
I was skeptical of this one. Love story that takes place over the course of a single day? Nah. My book club supplied me with a copy, though, so I figured I'd give it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised. It's a love story, but more than that, it's a story about how the tiny connections we make with those around us have far-reaching consequences. (The cover is also too pretty to pass up.)

Release by Patrick Ness
This is a difficult one to discuss. Was it, for me, the absolutely wrong book to read at the wrong time? Yes. Did I need it anyway? Yes. It tugs at you and teases out the sadness, and then it shows you the hope. That's what Patrick Ness does best, and he has yet to disappoint me.

*I suppose I regret that word choice. Maybe.
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