Guess what this week’s Top Ten Tuesday’s prompt is all about? My favorite thing: book recommendations! And here are ten I suggest the most:
1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Sadly, I’m always too wrapped up in other books to read Ruta Sepetys’ debut novel a second time. At some point, which I hope is this year, I would love to re-read and even review it. Ruta is one talented writer who, despite the stark atmosphere of this novel, manages to sprout hope between the pages. With writing so swift and striking, it’s no wonder that I recommend this book so often. It’s not that Between Shades of Gray is only well-written and tactful–and with a great protagonist to top it off–but the novel sheds light on a piece of history that’s been hidden in the shadows. Whether you have or have not read this book, I also highly recommend that anyone watch the ‘promotional trailer’ of sorts here.
2. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Another book I recommend often is Natalie Standiford’s How To Say Goodbye in Robot. As far as young adult contemporary/realistic fiction goes, I have yet to encounter any similar book and I don’t think I ever will. Standiford’s novel stands alone, which–regardless of its flaws–is great. I discuss a little of the book in this post, but I of course prefer that you check out the book instead — and read it!
3. Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman
I was crazy about Seraphina before it was published, and now I’m all sorts of crazy amplified by ten just waiting on the sequel. Although I’ve been successful in persuading others to read Hartman’s glamorousandkick-ass novel, I don’t think any amount of converts will please me because I just need to talk about this book ALL THE TIME. Hands down, I adore Seraphina as a character — she is an intensely smart, observant individual who is not simply relatable, but beautiful inside and out. My review can be read here, but I also mention Seraphina in this post as well.
4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
First, I desperately plead, do not judge this book by its movie. The two are quite different in my opinion, and in all places where the movie flounders the book prevails. Out of many young adult novels I’ve read that deal with mental health, I feel that Vizzini nails it. Craig embodies the emotions of those who live with and have experienced depression, and what I admire most of all is how Vizzini works in humor. Yes: this is a novel about depression that is not depressing. Who’d have thought? Instead, the book is an uplifting story as it follows a boy’s one-week stay in a mental hospital after choosing not to kill himself.
5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
I may never love another John Green novel as much as I love Looking for Alaska, because I’m still waiting for its equal. This book, alongside one other, is what hooked me into exploring young adult literature. Miles “Pudge” Halter is a rather sentimental guy, quite thoughtful, and he undergoes a memorable coming-of-age experience. Off at boarding school, he finds his place among life-long friends and in a sad turn of events, loses one. This novel is sincere but balanced well by John Green’s trademark wit, and I have the feeling that Looking for Alaska will have a special place on my shelf for years to come.
6. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan’s work in The Arrival stunned me speechless. However wordless (that goes for the book and myself), Tan shows the wonder in his artistic ability through cinematic-like images. The story follows a man as he journeys away from his homeland only to arrive in a foreign world, filled with odd devices and customs, and even odder creatures. It’s an old tale to tell: the story of an immigrant, and what sets The Arrival apart is how Shaun Tan breathes life into it with impressive images. A lot of work–you might not think–went into creating this book, which you can read about (and view pages from the book!) by clicking here.
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Maybe some day I will get the knots out of my tongue to properly review this page-turner. Until then, I will slap it across the head of anyone willing to listen. You might think a smack from a 550-page book would hurt, but that is nothing in comparison to what its words and characters do to your heart. Death, as a narrator, does a spectacular job — even when he spoils the ending way ahead of time — because he’s much more human than he likes to think, and I swear there’s a heart and soul trapped in the pages.
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is one of those book that, if I catch you insulting it, I will smack you silly across the face. …In my head. I won’t really abuse your face til it’s red and raw, but I’m rather attached –unfortunately?–and I will judge. There are people who easily dismiss Chbosky’s book because of its lasting popularity, and I’m happy to say that I picked this up on whim. I had no previous knowledge of this book, but a friend listed it as one of her favorite reads. Trusting her taste, I gave it a go as well and fell in love.
9. There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
There Are No Children Here was required reading for my sociology class, and reading it had me deeply interested in the lives of these two boys. Far from simply informative, it’s heart-wrenching and mind-opening — even more so because it isn’t fiction. This is the true story, as told by Alex Kotlowitz, of Lafeyette and Pharoah growing up in “the other America.”
10. A Monster Calls written by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd, and illustrated by Jim Kay
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s honest and keenly written with certain awareness. From the moment I started reading I could see no happy ending, which–to be honest–was not what I’d expected. Unaware of the story, I believed a spooky tale lie ready for reading, and how completely wrong I was. It is unusual for me to like a book, and more to love a book, when initial expectations are struck down, and it’s not often that literature brings real tears dripping down my face.
Which books do you recommend most often?