I was tagged by Rachel for this one; she admits to not drinking coffee, but my confession might be worse: I don’t really like any warm beverages. Or even iced coffee. I drink maybe two cups of tea per year and otherwise just stick mainly to water. But a preference for coffee does not seem to actually be required for this tag, so I’m going to have some fun with it anyway. Here we go:
(P.S. cute font graphics totally borrowed from Romie We Deserve Love)
(P.P.S. titles are linked to my reviews, where applicable)
A Series That’s Tough to Get Into But Has Hardcore Fans
The Red Rising saga by Pierce Brown. This is a dystopian sci-fi series set in space, and it seems like that’s enough info to turn a lot of readers away. Furthermore, the first book is the weakest of the series, in my opinion. Brown lays some groundwork, but there are some unfortunate parallels to concepts from The Hunger Games in that first book that turn even more readers away. I would definitely advise reading at least through book 2 before deciding, because once you’re hooked, you’re really hooked. The Howlers are an intense wolf-cloak wearing fanbase that I am happy to be a part of- minus the wolf cloak.
A Book That Gets More Popular During the Winter or a Festive Time of Year
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This seems obvious to read around the winter holiday season, but I read it for the first time last year. I was already familiar with the story, but had never actually read Dickens’s original, and it is definitely worth the read. It’s a classic about kindness and generosity during festive times of year, with a supernatural twist, and it’s not too religion-focused for those who don’t celebrate Christmas.
A Favorite Children’s Book
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. This is one of the first chapter books I remember reading in elementary school that interested me in the weird and bizarre. I didn’t know about genres back then, but I did learn pretty young that I like books that turn the real world upside down and inside out. Books that toe the line between reality and fantasy. Other favorites from this era in my life include Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Joseph Bruchac’s Skeleton Man, and The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.
A Book That Kept You On the Edge of Your Seat From Start to Finish
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This is a science fiction thriller that constantly surprised me. I think the fact that I didn’t know much about dark matter and hadn’t read a thriller for a while probably contributed to how well this one worked for me, but I loved the otherworldliness of the twists and the exploration of “what if you had made different choices in your life?” I never knew what to expect next, and that’s exactly what I was looking for when I picked up this book.
A Book You See Everywhere
It by Stephen King. With a new 2 part-film halfway released, this thousand page monster has been seeing a lot of fresh attention over the last year or so, and I doubt that’ll go away until the excitement from the second film dies down. This one has a strong magical/sci-fi element even by Stephen King standards, but it was the characterization that I loved most. Watching the 6 kids from the Losers Club navigate childhood fears and bullies and seeing them return to their haunted hometown as adults was absolutely fascinating, and they remain some of my favorite King characters.
A Book by an Indie Author
A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley. This is probably not exactly what the prompt wants me to do, as this book was a contender for the National Book Award and is thus not so obscure, but it’s got less than 500 ratings on Goodreads so I’m going ahead. I haven’t even actually read this book yet, but I fully intend to, and I hope a lot of others will as well; Brinkley was one of my creative writing teachers at the University of Iowa, and at that time I don’t believe he’d had anything published yet. So it was pretty awesome to look at the National Book Award nominees this year and see a writer that I actually knew and wanted to support for that reason. Unfortunately, though he was shortlisted, he didn’t win. But I liked what I heard of his work back then, and I’m looking forward to picking this one up.
A Book You Were Expecting More From
Snap by Belinda Bauer. I decided to read the entire Man Booker longlist this year, and this thriller was the first title I picked up. I’ve been looking for a really impressive thriller all year, and I thought that one longlisted for a literary prize might be exactly what I wanted- but it fell short. Though I liked some of the ideas and characters that went into this story, Snap was riddled with so many plot-holes and problems that I ended up pretty frustrated with it.
A Book or Series That Was Both Bitter and Sweet, but Ultimately Satisfying
Emma by Jane Austen. This book is full of dramatic irony; it was so frustrating at times to watch the characters make choices that the reader knows are mistakes, but rewarding in the end to see them overcome their earlier failings. I have not quite read all of Austen’s novels yet, but this seems the one that best shows off her skill as a writer, while also featuring the sort of heartwarming romance that she’s best known for.
A Book or Series That is Quietly Beautiful
Faithful by Alice Hoffman. Though this book starts with a difficult tragedy and the main character takes a lot of time to figure out how to cope with it, it was heartwarming seeing her find her way at last. Also, she adopts a lot of dogs along the way- as a cat person, I must say that the dogs must’ve really been written well to impress even me. (Also I really love looking at that beautiful floral blue cover.)
A Book or Series That Makes You Dream of Far-Off Places
Origin by Dan Brown. Actually the entire Robert Langdon series. I used to read these books because I liked the action and the puzzles, but even though Origin didn’t impress me the same way, it was still full of art and cultures that I would love to see in person. Particularly in this latest book, the Guggenheim Museum of modern art, in Bilbao. Looking up images of the art described was probably my favorite part of reading this book, and it’s the locations rather than the plots that have stuck with me from the previous books in the series.
A Favorite Classic
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I love classics. I don’t read enough of them, considering how much I enjoy them. This is just the most recent classic I’ve added to my favorites shelf, a Gothic romance with an emphasis on the psychological. Other classic favorites include: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, and George Orwell’s 1984 (though the scene with the rats will always haunt me).
None, actually. I’m going to leave it open to whoever likes coffee and/or books and wants to try this tag. Link me if you’re interested, I’d love to see some more answers!
The Literary Elephant