Lots of Paws Up For These Books

It’s Top Ten Tuesday time! Top Ten Tuesday is a blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, it is Top Ten Recommendations.

I’m not going to stick to YA here, though they’ll be a majority of my recommendations. But I LOVE recommending books.

All links are Goodreads links.

In no particular order…

  1. LIFE: AN EXPLODED DIAGRAM by Mal Peet–granted, I just finished this one last night, but it is AMAZING. And I want to buy copies for EVERYONE I KNOW. This is the story of two kids who have the Romeo/Juliet thing going on but they’re in love with the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, and the Cuban Missile Crisis as their background. Unusually, this book delves into the people around them too (Clem, the boy, technically narrates the whole thing, but he switches in and out of first person, invents things, and he’s possibly unreliable but you don’t know). It’s a historical account of families in a rural area of England from WWI through September 11th, and all of the ways that these major historical events were mirrored in the smaller events of the town. It’s exquisite. It’s beautiful. It’s a masterpiece. It should be required reading, honestly.
  2. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green — lots of people recommend this one, but for a good reason. The story of two kids dying and falling in love at the same time is an unusual one (usually one of them is dying), and Green handles it with his normal nerdy, geeky way with characters who are simultaenously in love with the world and at odds with it. Hazel Grace, the main character and narrator, wants to be remembered and loved and to love, but without making a mark on the world, and ultimately, the story is about those concepts: about the people we leave behind, the marks we make on the world, and how we love in the time period we’re given (which we don’t always know).
  3. The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant — I’m cheating a bit. This is three books. They’re also three of the best books you’ll read in any genre ever. Grant writes with such deft precision that you don’t even realize you’ve suspended disbelief until you’re done the series and prepared for a world with zombies (because it’s not the zombie apocalypse, it’s merely a world with the living dead). Moreover, her treatment of science is perfection. The books are largely scientifically accurate, and there are scientists on both the good and bad sides and the morally gray sides of every part of this series. It’s fantastic.
  4. SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman–return of the YA High Fantasy in a book where dragons are reimagined as never before. Court intrigue, a very subtle but delicious romance, and an outcast girl trying to figure out where she belongs all make for a great book, but the writing too here is beautiful. High crossover appeal here.
  5. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth — look, sometimes we all just want an evil corrupt world, a hot guy, and a girl we empathize with rising to the challenges set before her. Divergent’s that book. It’s fun, fast, challenging, and it’s part of a trilogy (final installment due 10/22/13) so the fun just keeps on going!
  6. FIRE or GRACELING by Kristin Cashore — Again, I cheat. Either of these two books will fill any YA fantasy lover’s need for romance, magic, otherworldness, politics, and epic battles. FIRE is the story of a monster girl (read this book for really interesting commentary on slut-shaming and women as temptresses) who gets wrapped up in the ruling family’s struggle to hold onto their land and bring peace. GRACELING is the story of a girl with unusual strengths (as all odd-eyed people are) who teams up with another odd-eyed/Graced person to try and solve a pressing problem in the regime, save a little girl, and solve a mystery. Oh yes, and there’s love. Mad, frustrating love because Cashore, being Tamora Pierce’s unofficial successor, is wicked good at writing stubborn, strong women who really poke at the idea of love and whether they will lose their identities to it.
  7. INVINCIBLE SUMMER by Hannah Moskowitz is one of the most powerful YA contemps out there. Taking place over multiple summers, IS is full of family drama and two brothers competing for one girl’s attentions. There’s tragedy and heartbreak and Albert Camus’s philosophy driving them forward, towards each other even when they’re pulling away from each other.
  8. ASK THE PASSENGERS by AS King–one of my favorite LGBTQ YA lit books, but also one of my favorite books. This is the story of a girl in a small town (both in mind and size) struggling with being labeled, her feelings for another girl, and her friends who are closeted at school and ask her to cover for them. It’s full of the FEELS, and the truth. I wish I could get this book into every school in America, to be quite honest.
  9. THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern–dreamy, ethereal, magical, powerful, dark, and sinister at turns, Morgenstern’s debut steps into the shoes of Neil Gaiman’s magical books. She weaves a slow, but steady, story of two children pitted against each other in a game of magical wits on the stage of a magical circus. We see other acts, the addictive quality of the circus, and the two children growing up, falling in love, and facing the consequences of the competition they were forced into against their will by people who chose them but did not love them. It’s incredible and mysterious, and it’ll linger with you long after you’re done reading it.
  10. BEAUTIFUL SOULS by Eyal Press — nonfiction. I would make this required reading for everyone in the United States if I could. Mr. Press’s biases are well known and very obvious, he doesn’t try to hide them in the book, but despite that, he tells four incredibly powerful stories about ordinary people who were extraordinary in exceptional times, like a Swiss border guard who forges papers to allow Jewish families entrance to Switzerland, an ethnically Serb man who saves many Croatian men’s lives during an act of genocide, an American woman who uncovers the unraveling of the 2008 financial crisis and major securities frauds and whistleblows despite the end of her career and way of life, an elite Israeli soldier who stands up to the state and refuses to participate in military action in the Occupied Territories. He explores their childhoods, philosophies, the moments leading up to their actions, and their thoughts afterwards. These people are not the most educated, the most philosophical, and they were not attached to political movements trying to make a statement. Instead, an overarching theme is that they all believe so much in their national identity, that they acted impulsively, without thinking twice, without believing they were extraordinary, and they all, without fail, say they would do it again, despite the consequences they all felt. (I snagged this particular writeup from this post where I wrote up my favorite books of 2012.)

Leave me links to your TTT posts!

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