Some of My Favorite Books
According to the wonderful world of Twitter trends, today is Read a Book Day. I try to read every day, but I know there are some people who don't get that chance. So to celebrate the day that champions reading, here are a few of my favorite books.
I've read quite a few Jodi Picoult books, all of which have been an amazing experience, but there's something about Nineteen Minutes that really stuck out in my mind. It might be because I went to school in post-Columbine Colorado, where lockdown drills were done more frequently than fire drills and school shootings were always a topic that seemed pretty close to home. I didn't even live in Colorado when Columbine happened, but the after effects were still extremely evident. It might also just be beacause it was the first Jodi Picoult book I'd ever read.
Nineteen Minutes is a story that centers around a group of characters that, in some way or another, are involved in a school shooting. It's a study on personality and how quickly things can escalate. The story's description actually summarizes everything perfectly:
"In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five....In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge."
I know I mentioned this series back in my "This Week's Favs" post on August 4, but I just can't help but include it again. This almost-complete, six-book series is one of my favorite fantasy stories I've ever read. Your perception of the characters and the depths of their personalities grows the longer you read, making it all an experience where you're learning along with the characters. You get to discover flaws and deceptions as they're revealed through the plot, instead of knowing about them from the beginning. The way the books are written, there's always a twist or turn waiting for you.
It's really hard for me to pick a favorite out of the five books that have been released so far, but for me that only says even more about how truly fascinating the whole series is. For those who judge based on the young adult classification, don't let that turn you away. It simply means the story isn't filled with unnecessarily complicated language and the main cast are teenagers, not adults. If you're looking for a new series, this is definitely one you need to check out.
The series also has an amazing spin-off series titled Spirits and Thieves, which currently has two books published with a third scheduled to be released next year.
My senior year of high school, I essentially had to write a mini-thesis for my International Baccalaureate English exam. For this paper, I wrote about symbolism through colors used in Paul Auster's work. I chose that because of this book. Travels in the Scriptorium is a really quick read (it's only 145 pages in the paperback edition), but it's really a crazy mental journey. It's chilling and breathtaking. To be honest, it was one of only a few books on my mandatory reading lists in school that I actually couldn't put down.
I can't say much about it that will make sense without spoiling the story as a whole, so I'll just say that the main character's journey throughout the entire book is a ride. He wakes up extremely disoriented, putting him at the same level of understanding (or lack thereof) as the reader. You travel through all the events discovering things with him. It takes all the best parts of a crime or thriller story and puts them into a setting where it's really unclear what kind of story you're reading until the very end.
Another amazing young adult fantasy series, this one focuses on societal division and what can happen when long-standing societal norms are challenged. Focusing on the separation of Reds (people with red blood) and Silvers (people with silver blood and special powers), the Red Queen series introduces a lot of interesting characters that, while not extremely unique on their own, make up an interesting cast whose interactions are always surprising.
I have to admit that Mare, the main character of the story, is by no means my favorite. I find other characters far more intriguing than her. But the way that the Red Queen series is written, it's almost like Victoria Aveyard expects the reader to not like Mare that much. She's a character who, while not necessarily relatable or pleasant, is essential to the story. Her being the main character makes sense to the story. It's an interesting example where you can have a great story centered around a not-so-great character. There are currently three books out in the series, with the fourth and final book slated to be released next year.
This is another fairly small book that I had to read for school. I remember reading it in middle school and thinking how strange it seemed for books to be banned and burned. I'd always loved books and, while some didn't tickle my fancy, the solution seemed simple enough. Just don't read the ones you aren't interested in. But around the same time was when Harry Potter was topping the banned books lists simply because it included magic. There were also parents who wouldn't let their kids read The Giver because of the one scene with the babies (which was meant to be seen as a bad thing anyway, so the objections never made sense to me). Books were being banned and restricted already. While Fahrenheit 451 is supposed to be set in some future dystopia, it had (and still has) it's moments where it felt all too real.
That being said, I think Fahrenheit 451 is a really important book, even to this day. It's view of a dystopian future is unique and, at least in my mind, just as terrifying as a zombie apocalypse. Having knowledge and literature restricted to severely that it's a huge offense to even own a book is a terrifying thought. But sometimes, it seems like that's where our society might be headed. This book is a great reminder as to what we don't want to happen to us in the future.
I've got plenty more books that I could suggest, but I think these five are a good starting point. Feel free to check out my Goodreads account to see what else I've read and how I've rated them. You can even friend request me, if you want.
Leave a comment below and let me know what some of your favorite books are.