Book Recommendations and Non-Recommendations!
I really enjoy reading. However, as a university student, I’m constantly obliged to read things that I wouldn’t necessarily choose on my own. This means I’m usually drowning in reading materials to the point that where I do sit down to read, it isn’t usually for fun.
I’ve developed some ways to get around this.
In the summer, I read constantly. On the bus. In coffee shops. At the mall. Everywhere. I do it on my Kobo eReader, which is lighter to carry around than most of the books I like to read.
During the school year, I listen to audiobooks. I listen to them while I walk to class, on the bus, while grocery shopping…it’s kind of fantastic.
So these are my book recommendations if you’re looking for something good to read (or listen to). I promise this post will be spoiler-free!
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I adore mythology, so I really enjoyed this one. Gaiman artfully throws together all the gods that ever were and are — Norse ones, Greek ones, Hindu ones, and some modern ones as well, let’s just say. The premise is that the gods exist because people believe in them (they’re tulpa, like Santa Claus or Slenderman). But there’s trouble a-brewin’ because belief is running short and there doesn’t appear to be enough to go around. The story follows Shadow, an ex-con fresh outta prison who gets pulled into this weird and dangerous world. Like Neil Gaiman himself, this book is great.
While we’re at it, let’s just go ahead and add some more to the Gaiman lovefest. I really loved Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, for some of the same reasons. They made me feel sad and happy and nostalgic all at the same time. Neverwhere is about a man who lives a boring life and discovers a world underneath his modern London. When he comes back to his London, however, he discovers that nobody can see him and danger now looms. He’s then forced to head back underground. It’s really well-written and just very cool the way the author weaves everything together. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the story of a man reminiscing about when he was a boy and he met a magical girl. It’s very difficult to describe, but let’s just say that Lettie Hempstock — the girl he meets — is not quite a girl, and the pond in her backyard really is an ocean.
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is easily one of my favourite novels. It’s so beautifully written and the story is so good. The gist of it is that Dorian, a young and handsome man, makes a Faustian pact with the devil that he should stay young forever while his portrait ages. This leads to his moral deterioration, essentially. I love watching Dorian’s demise time and time again — it never gets old. Pun intended.
George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I started out watching the show, then switched to the books, then switched to the audiobooks. I’m on the third (audio)book and I don’t plan on watching the series until I’m done with them. If you don’t know what these are about, you’ve been living under a rock for the last three years or so. In any case, it’s about a bunch of crazy people in armour squabbling over a stabby chair.
And one book to avoid: Dan Brown’s Inferno. If you’ve read any of Dan Brown’s other books, you know the formula. Robert Langdon meets a beautiful woman. She’s in trouble, and there’s a bigger threat looming. Together they have to race through an iconic, history-rich city, deciphering clues cached in famous artistic and architectural masterpieces. At the end, a volta throws the reader for a loop, but all’s well that ends well. If you’ve read (or seen) The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons or The Lost Symbol, save yourself the time and read something else. This book is predictable and laughable.