10 Books You Should Read

Hi everybody! So a little while ago John Green made a YouTube video in which he recommended 18 books he thought viewers probably hadn’t read. Carrie Hope Fletcher did a similar video on her YouTube channel, too, and it looked like fun, so. . .

(These aren’t necessarily books you probably haven’t read; they’re more books that I think are fun/awesome/really good that more people might want to read.)

1. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson

OK, yes, I realize that this is a series, not a single book. But these books, guys. GAH. I’ve talked about The Name of the Star before, but I just recently finished its sequel, The Madness Underneath, and MY FEELINGS. WHY. WHY WITH THAT ENDING. Just. . .just WHY. Anyways, these books are terrific, and ever so slightly addictive, so I highly suggest you read them. Then we can cry together. (It may not be a good idea to read them right before bed, though. At least with The Name of the Star.)

2. Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

If this book looks familiar, it’s probably because I’ve reviewed it before. Climbing the Stairs tells the story of Vidya, a fifteen-year-old living in India during WWII. Vidya’s country is going through a period of upheaval–protests are taking place, and people are refusing to accept the racist attitudes of the British that are occupying their country. Vidya herself has her own worries. She wants to go to college, but there’s also the possibility that she will be married off before she gets the chance. And then something terrible happens, and her family has to go live in the traditional home of their relatives, where men and women are separated by a forbidden flight of stairs. Padma Venkatraman’s writing is insanely good, as are her characters and plot. Plus, her new book, A Time to Dance, was just recently released. EXCITEMENT.

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Oh, this book. Pranks. A boarding school. Basset hounds. Secret societies. It is SO GOOD.

Frankie Landau-Banks attends Alabaster Preparatory Academy, a boarding school in northern Massachusetts. Her freshman year wasn’t exactly illustrious, but this year is going to be different–especially when Frankie gets involved with the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, an all-male secret society to which she is not allowed to belong. But Frankie is smart (not to mention somewhat cunning), and then. . .stuff happens. It’s cleverly written and imaginative, and have I mentioned that I just CAN’T WAIT for E. Lockhart’s next book, We Were Liars? Yes, I know it comes out May 13th, but patience is NOT MY STRONG SUIT.

4. The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots by Carolyn Meyer

If I had to name my favorite writers of historical fiction, they would probably be Ann Rinaldi and Carolyn Meyer. Carolyn Meyer’s books are most likely what caused me to fall in love with reading about major figures of history, like Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette. Her books span years, taking the reader from her subjects’ childhoods to their adult years, encompassing betrayals, romances, and inheritances of various thrones. As you can probably tell, this one centers on Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. Trust me when I say these books can suck you in. Meyer makes the characters come to life, and writes very, very well. I also love her quartet of books on various women of the Tudor family (starting with Patience, Princess Catherine), Loving Will Shakespeare (about Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway), and The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette. I admittedly didn’t really like Victoria Rebels all that much, but those previously mentioned I loved. (Review here.)

5. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

Well, yes, technically this is a series. But STILL. The first book is Dealing with Dragons (earlier review here), in which the reader is introduced to Princess Cimorene, who is pretty sick of this whole roytaly thing. She’s not allowed to fence, she’s not allowed to learn magic, and all in all she finds it extremely dull. So dull, in fact, that she runs away to live with a dragon. The adventures of Cimorene and those she meets continue throughout the series, involving slimy wizards, troublesome knights, and cherries jubilee. Patricia C. Wrede writes cleverly and imaginatively, and I especially love Cimorene’s attitude. These were some of my favorite fantasy books when I was younger, and I very well may reread them someday. I think they’d be enjoyable at any age. (I also really like the book Wrede wrote with Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery and Cecilia. It’s set in Regency England. And there’s magic.)

6. Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes

I’m also thinking about rereading this, seeing as I first read it so long ago, and really, really liked it. Tortilla Sun tells the story of Izzy, who is spending the summer with her grandma in New Mexico while her Mom is doing research in Costa Rica. As Izzy explores the village and makes new friends, she learns more about her culture and her family, also while trying to solve the mystery of her father’s old baseball that reads simply, “Because. . .magic.” Jennifer Cervantes’s writing is truly awesome, and at the time I wondered why more people didn’t know about it. I’ll probably be checking it out again soon. 🙂 (Review here.)

7. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Okay, so I have mentioned this book numerous times. But if you have any interest at all in reading about an eleven-year-old girl living on a somewhat lonely estate in 1950s England, who also has an acute interest in chemistry and gets involved in solving murders quite a bit, then this is probably for you. Flavia de Luce loves chemistry, particularly poisons, and in the sprawling estate of Buckshaw that she shares with the rest of her family, that’s probably what she likes to deal with best. And then a dead man turns up on the doorstep, and things get exciting. Flavia has a great voice, and the plot and the characters are just as awesome. Not to mention the covers, man. Plus, it’s a SERIES.

8. Monster by Walter Dean Myers

If you haven’t read Walter Dean Myers, YOU ARE MISSING OUT. This is the first book I read by him, and it definitely shows why he was the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature from 2012-2013. Monster centers around Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in jail for murder. The story is told through Steve’s journal entries, a script he’s writing for a movie, and the occasional photo, taking the reader through his trial. It’s striking and intelligent and imaginative, and just GO READ IT. AND BE ENLIGHTENED. Carmen is pretty amazing as well.(Review here.)

9. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

So you might have thought the amount of gushing I can do over this book had hit its limit. But apparently, nope! NEVER. Because this is probably one of the best books I have ever read. Told through the lives of a number of gay boys, and narrated from the perspective of the gay generation that came before them, Two Boys Kissing is filled with wonderful use of language and intenseness and beauty and ugly and just freaking read it GOD.

10. March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

I can’t believe I haven’t written a review of this yet, and I definitely need to get on that soon. March is a graphic novel about the civil rights movement, shown through the eyes of Congressman John Lewis, one of its foremost leaders. It takes the reader from his childhood to his older years, offering a remarkable and unique perspective on the movement and life during that time. Lewis is a great storyteller, and Nate Powell’s pictures add a whole new element to the book, which is probably one of the most striking ones I’ve ever read. It’s awesome and wonderful and you should READ IT. Now. And when does the next book come out?

So, there you have it. 10 books I think you should read. I suppose that’s it for today. And if you actually made it to the end of this gargantuan post, congratulations! It really just kept getting longer and longer. . .

Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely Friday! The weekend is almost here. Take heart.

Bookish Quotes of the Day: “There is no Frigate like a Book/To take us Lands away.” —There is no frigate like a book (1263) by Emily Dickinson

P.S. Also This Star Won’t Go Out. And absolutely any book by Gary D. Schmidt (because he’s amazing).

Catalyst

Psst. Guys. Hey, hey, guys. You. Yes, you, staring at your computer screen. HEY.

Midterms are over.

THANK YOU DUMBLEDORE!

Now that those horrible, ugh-worthy things are over, guess what that means? LONG WEEKEND! READING! WASTING TIME ON THE INTERNET! AND A BLOG POST FOR ALL YOU LOVELY PEOPLE!

Whoops. Sorry for the caps attack.

Anyway, as you have no doubt noticed, this blog post is about Catalyst, written by Laurie Halse Anderson. Which I started to read completely by accident. You know, when you pick a book while you’re waiting for something and you’re like, “I’ll just read a few pages.” And then, inevitably. . .

Yep. I was hooked. I had to finish it. So let’s jump right in: A summary!

(Be glad my review summaries aren’t like the summaries I have to write for school. Because it appears that I have an issue with a thing called brevity.)

The star of our story is Kate Malone–a senior in high school with a sharp mind, a sharp wit, and an even sharper desire: To get into MIT. Honestly, there isn’t even really a choice in the matter. Because it’s the only school she’s applied to.

No, really.

As the days tick by and she waits for her letter (her acceptance letter), Kate is getting by  fine. Really. So what if she can’t sleep? A person can get loads of things done in the night when everyone else is snoring. She’s fine. She’s got great grades, she’s got Chemistry, she’s got her friends and boyfriend.  She’s got running. It’s all good, great, she’ll have that letter any day now.

And then everything just kind of goes a little crazy.

The Litch family’s house catches on fire. Kate ends up sharing her room and home with Teri Litch, who made a habit of beating her up in elementary school. College is still hanging over her head. At least Mikey Litch is an adorable little bundle of joy.

And just when stuff is starting to look maybe a little bit better. . .it all blows up again. Only even more.

One of the things that really struck me about this book is Kate’s voice as a narrator. I love it. More than anything, I think that’s what made me want to keep reading after I sat down and read those few (17?) pages. There are some really, really, really golden lines in there, and the way Kate narrates is very uniquely hers. Her attitude is so much fun to read.

The characters are all well written, and Kate’s friends, Travis and Sarah, were definitely fun and unique. The plot was well done, too, and Anderson added a number of little touches and other conflicts, which made Kate’s community and world seem all the more developed and real. Kate’s problems with her father, Reverend Jack Malone, for example, or the little snippets of science and math references, because those subjects are both a big part of Kate and her life. The way the book is formatted is also really cool, containing snippets of science and chemistry terms that are fully integrated into the book itself. I don’t particularly like science, and I found it neat.

So, all in all, Catalyst was a really good read, and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’ve enjoyed more of Anderson’s work. Actually, her new book, The Impossible Knife of Memory, has just been released!

I hope you’re all enjoying your long weekend, and guess what? Guess what?!

The 3rd season of Sherlock premieres in the U.S. tonight.

If you need me, I’ll be sobbing and fangirling in the other room. No doctors are needed, but cookies are always appreciated.

Bye!

Bookish Quote of the Day: “Sweat trickles along the bones of my face and licks my neck. Running, sweating, evaporating. . . I’m distilling myself in the dark: mixture, substance, compound, element, atom. The ghost is getting closer. Run faster. Push beyond the wall, push beyond my limits. My chest is flayed open; no lungs to breathe with, no heart to pound. The air flows around and between my shiny bones. My skin is silk. I take it off when I get hot. . .

I wish I never had to stop.” —Catalyst, by Laurie Halse Anderson

P.S. If any of you are interested in Vidcon, which is a convention for YouTubers and vloggers, the video below has a great idea for it. (The video she made previously that she mentions can be found here.) (She’s a great YouTuber!)