Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Discussion: Recommending Your Favourite Books

I was trying to rearrange my bookshelves last week to make more space and when I was working on my favourites shelves it made me want to make a post about those books. When I love a book, I always want everyone to read it--partly because it's a little sad when you're a fan of a book but can't find a fandom for it and partly just because good books deserve to be read. 

Basically, this is just a book recommendations post (with some questions thrown in) and all of the books mentioned will be taken from my favourites shelves.

I'll start with the discussion questions:
1. If you've read any of the books I mention, let me know your thoughts in the comments? And maybe recommend some of your favourite books too?

2. Also, I'm curious: when you love a book, do you want everyone else to read it and love it too? I used to think the answer would be yes but in the past year or so I've seen a lot of people whining when a book they love becomes popular because they liked having it be this exclusive thing that was theirs, they get very possessive of it.

3. Do you prefer books you love to have fandoms that are really difficult to find, or for them to have big fandoms (to the point where it seems like everyone and their mother has read the book, and they talk about it all over the internet and it becomes kind of overexposed to the point where it's almost annoying)? I've realised that of the two extremes, I prefer the latter but I know there's plenty of people that don't.
Anyway, onto the books. These aren't all of my favourites, just some and I've put them into little groups of 2-5 with similar genres/subject matter/feel (so if you like one book in a group, you might like the others, or if a particular genre appeals to you then I recommend the books in that group for you).

Group One: Historical with settings we don't often see (and good even if you're not normally into historical) 

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Set in Afghanistan. War. Romance. Friendship. Family. Love.

Between Shades of Gray - Lithuania. Set during WW2, telling a part of history that should be more well known than it is.

Like Water for Chocolate - Mexico. Love story. Magical realism.

Exile - Tanzania. More recent than the other three. Gritty, realistic. The last chapter or two were the only let down for me.

Group Two: Contemporary, with a little romance thrown in and some sort of road trip/adventure/characters figuring their life out.

Paper Towns - This one is the only one in the group without much romance, but there's hints of it in there.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - (Has a different feel than the movie has). Romance (realistic, not all sunshine and rainbows). Set in one night in NYC.

Anna and the French Kiss - Set in Paris. Probably the most romance heavy.

Graffiti Moon - Set in Australia. Romance, set over the course of one night as the characters travel about town getting into all sorts of mischief.

Group Three: If you like your contemporary leaving you feeling like your emotions have been tossed in a blender and a lot of unhappiness.

Forbidden - Incest (brother/sister, consensual). Really dark and painful. Don't judge by the subject matter, it might surprise you.

Entangled - Self harm, depression. More things I can't mention without spoilers but So. Much. Unhappiness.

Stolen - Stockholms Sydrome. It makes you feel an echo of it too towards the kidnapper.

Jane - The odd one out of the four. This is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, so if you're familiar with the original then you'll know why it's in this category. More romance heavy than the others, happier ending, but a lot of darkness too.

Group Four: Contemporary. If you like your grief well written with a side of lovely and a pinch of kissing...

The Piper's Son and Jellicoe Road - Same author. Excellent writing. Love, loss, family, wow. (Also: set in Australia.)

The Sky is Everywhere - Beautiful writing, poetic. Unique, sad. And, again, love, loss, family, and wow.

Broken Soup - ...I'm getting repetetive, but it's another one about love and loss and family and it was really great. Set in the UK.

Looking for Alaska - More focus on friendship than the others, less on family.

Group Five: If you like your issues serious with a lot of sad thrown in (and not cliche).

Speak - A girl trying to cope with the aftermath of being raped.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Depression. Social Awkwardness. Introversion (not an "issue" just something in the book). Sexual abuse. Told through a series of letters.

Thirteen Reasons Why - Half narrated by the dead girl through a series of tapes, half by the guy listening to the tapes.

The Fault in Our Stars - Cancer (I normally dislike cancer books). First love. So popular right now that I don't need to say anything more, do I?

Group Six: Historical with a twist.

Revolution - Combines historical setting with contemporary. Set in Paris, present day and 200 years ago.

Tuck Everlasting - Historical fantasy. Set in the early 1900's. Short, sweet story about a girl who meets a family who can't die.

Illyria - I think this one is set in the 70's? I'm still not really sure about my feelings for this book, it's a strange one and hard to explain. It has a magical realism kind of feel to it.

The Book Thief - Set in Germany during WW2. It's narrated by Death.

Group Seven: High fantasy (I don't read as much of this as I'd like to--and some of what I have read didn't make my favourites shelves--so there's not many) 

Harry Potter series (I own them all, but only put two in the picture) - I don't think I really need to say anything about that one, right?

Ella Enchanted - Way better and different from the movie version. Not sure if it counts as high fantasy? It's set in another world though and there's magic and magical creatures and...yeah.

The Lumatere Chronicles trilogy - Well written, brilliant characters, awesome plot, and the relationships between the characters is really well done.

Group Eight: Even if you think you're sick of vampires and werewolves, these are worth a try.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Had a different feel to the typical vampire romance novels that flooded the shelves after the popularity of Twilight. Really good, not what I expected. Title is misleading, because it makes it sound...I dunno, not what you'd think.

Blood and Chocolate - This one was out before Twilight was published and it is different to other werewolf/paranormal books I've read.


Group Nine: Wonderfully weird.

Bleeding Violet - One of the most bizarre books I've ever read. Even when I finished it, I still was kind of, "I'm not sure what's going on but I like it!"

Eyes Like Stars  - A girl that lives in a theatre. And the characters of different plays are characters in the story and it's just...weird and awesome.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Slightly less WTF than the other two, but still pretty WTF on the usual paranormal romance scale.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - I don't even know how to describe the oddness of this one, but read it. (Tim Burton is supposed to be directing the movie version, I guess Burton-weirdness is a good way to describe it? Maybe?)

Group Ten: The world is a mess type thing (I would just say dystopian, but How I Live Now isn't and I can't remember the right name for what it actually is). Also, books like The Hunger Games aren't here because it feels like pretty much everyone has read them.

How I Live Now - This is a love it or hate it kind of book. I loved it. The writing can be annoying because the grammar is bad through a lot of the book - but that's a stylistic choice the author made, not her being a bad writer (part of it is told through the main characters diary) - if you can tolerate that then you might love it too.

Divergent - I know this one is pretty popular too, but it's really good. I think it's as good as/almost as good as THG is.

Group Eleven: Paranormal romance that is more than the typical girl-meets-boy-boy-is-weird-lovelovelove kind of plots that happen so much in the genre.

Hourglass - It's been a while since I read this one, so I can't think of how to explain it well. But it's good. And different. And good. And - you get the point, right?

Nevermore - Lovelovelove this one, the dark mood of it, the way the romance happens, the fact that it uses the death and stories of Edgar Allen Poe in such an awesomely creative way.


And that is the last of them (and it's really bugging me that I had 11 groups instead of an even number - it's making me feel all twitchy and anxious and it's so tempting to delete a group to make it 10 but they're all awesome and none deserve to be deleted and...I'm going off on a pointless tangent. Hi. It's 1:14am and I'm tired. And I'm going to shut up now).

Later.

7 comments:

  1. I'll be over here screaming my love for JANE and EYES LIKE STARS.

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  2. There's a bunch of books on this list that I would recommend: Speak, HP (of course), and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I'm not really familiar with a lot of fandoms for books, unless it's on tumblr, in which case it's usually for Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. I'm often reluctant to like these fandoms because people give away the ending because they assume everyone reads the books in discussion the day they get the book. On the other hand, I hate it when books don't get the attention they deserve (i.e. The Curseworkers series by Holly Black). I love when people enjoy the books I recommend even more because I feel like I've improved their life somehow haha. Books stay with me for a long time, so when I enjoy one, it lasts.

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    1. I think I have the first book in the Curse Workers series by Holly Black, but I haven't gotten round to reading it - good to know you think it's good, I might bump it up on my TBR pile. =P

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  3. I've read quite a few books on this list :) :
    On the Jellicoe road - My second favourite book of all time, I just think the story is so beautiful and it has so much emotion. They are actually making a movie of it. I'm really excited because Melina is writing it herself.
    The Pipers Son - Spin off to 'Saving Francesca', which is a bloody amazing book. This book was incredible and well written also, but you definitely should read Saving Francesca in order to understand some of the plot.
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Is one of the most incredible books ever written in this century. It definitely gets to the core of your heart, and brings so much emotion. Amazing and a must read.
    Harry Potter Series - I have actually ironically only read the two books that you showed there, and I remember loving them! I know I am a sinner for not reading the rest, but it's not that I got bored or anything, it's just I never got around to it. But don't worry, they are on my list :)
    The Lumatere Chronicles - By far the best fantasy series I have ever read, incredible storyline and amazingly written. Seriously, if you are not a fantasy person you still have to read these. Don't be fooled by the titles or covers.
    Divergent - I loooovee this book!! I actually have a blog post about the third in the series (the title just got released!). This is the best dystopian world series you can find on the shelves. Better than The Hunger Games, but only by a little, I am still a HUGE fan of those books :)

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    1. I've seen people who read and enjoyed The Piper's Son and understood it fine, then they went back to read Saving Francesca after that so I think Melina intended for them to be read in any order the reader wants or even just as stand alone novels. (I love Saving Francesca too, it is a favourite of mine, I just didn't love it as much as the books of Melina's I mentioned in this post.)

      I'm really excited for the Jellicoe Road movie too, I hope it happens this year or that we get some casting news soon. (They're also making a movie of Saving Francesca, so maybe if that does well one day they'll make The Piper's Son too.)

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  4. Love your lists. I adore thinking about read-alikes and books that are interested to read together. This is so cool! I haven't read it yet, but I've heard some great buzz about Holly Black's new book THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN (supposedly the first vampire story LB has published since Twilight series but I'd have to research that to be sure)--anyhow, it's supposed to be the vampire book for readers with vamp-burnout! As always, so glad I stopped by your blog!

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  5. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is possibly my favorite book series of all time.

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