I’m a big fan of this week’s That Artsy Reader Girl top ten topic. I mean, I’m always game to shout about books that I love, but don’t talk about a lot. I’m aiming to not just pick books I haven’t reviewed, but also ones that I haven’t ever really talked about on the blog. For example, I could slip Anam Cara by John O’Donohue in here since I’ve never actually reviewed it, but it’s been on several of my top ten lists before, so it won’t show up here. Instead, these are mostly books I read prior to 2017, before I started reviewing everything I read.
It seems crazy to me that Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands trilogy was back in 2016? Like, seriously, that’s just nuts. It was probably the first bigger YA high fantasy series that really kicked off my reading after years of stagnation. I can put myself right back in reading the finale in my friend’s bed, her blankets over my head, just absolutely losing it. We read the finale together, staying up late into the night when it first arrived. I have so much damn love for these books, and they’re so good.
Why you should read it: rebellion, desert setting, badass gunslinging woman MC, enemies to friends to lovers, exiled prince, very cool magic system, SAILING SHIPS MEANT FOR THE WATER ACROSS THE DESERT WITH MAGIC, lots of Arabic lore, found family
That twist in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, though. It’s one of those twists that’s present in every single scene of the book, but there’s no way you’re going to realize it until you’ve hit it. I still remember being absolutely shook when I finally got to it. Like, had to put the book down and just go wowwwwwwww for a bit. Even beyond that, it’s the perfect summer book, and it’s got such a spooky vibe that you don’t realize is spooky until everything starts to go wrong, and then it’s all so obvious.
Why you should read it: summer vacation, friendship, insane plot twist, very quick writing & fast pace
I am never going to forget the first half of Atonement by Ian McEwan. If I had to list my top favorite movies of all time, Atonement would definitely be on there, and the way that they captured that first half is just outstanding. I always thought it a bit odd that half the movie takes place in one night while the rest is just years and years, but the book does the same thing! And it’s truly amazing, how McEwan can stretch out one night into hundreds of pages, and it never once feels like too much. This is expertly written, and it’ll hold my heart forever.
Why you should read it: slow burn, angst, gorgeous writing, England in the 1930s, watch the movie first & then you’ll get to picture Keira Knightley & James McAvoy the whole time
I somehow always forget that Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean exists, which is a collection of short stories written solely by Indian & Australian authors to discuss feminism and what connection means. It’s a truly gorgeous book, and not just for the writing. The artwork, the cover, the stories that are threaded through–this is a book to take your time with.
Why you should read it: short fiction AND comics, retellings, a lot of #ownvoices, there’s a genre here for everyone
I don’t think I’ve reviewed either of Jandy Nelson’s books, and that’s a tragedy. My friend recently just read I’ll Give You the Sun, and she immediately asked for The Sky is Everywhere after. I’ve never experienced anything like Nelson’s lyrical writing before. It feels like I’m reading music, but in a way that’s never been done. It’s like pure magic via words.
Why you should read it: realistic & messy romance, LGBTQIAP+ characters, alternating past & present chapters, realistic & messy sibling relationships
I’m cheating a little here because I’ve definitely talked about Edward Snow’s translation of Rilke’s poetry at least once on the blog before, but never in any great detail, and you know what, there need to be more people shouting about Rilke, so. I’ll take one for the team. I found Rilke through Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, as I’m sure many in the bookish community did, and I was on a hunt for a translation of his works when I stumbled across this edition in Toad Hall in Rockport. The bookstore is no longer open, but it’s also where I found an accidental early release of Linger, it’s where my bookstore boys story is set, and it’s where I always think of when I feel most happy. Rilke is truly one of my favorite poets (he may even have John Keats beat, shhhhhh), and this translation is excellent.
Why you should read it: angst, just for the Book of Hours alone, beautiful writing, German alongside English translation
Gosh, talk about a book that’ll break your heart–A List of Cages by Robin Roe deals with some pretty heavy topics, but overlaid on top is the sweetest friendship. This will hurt no matter what way you look at it, but Roe discusses everything with a careful, respectful eye, and I just really appreciate that this book exists out there in the world.
Why you should read it: foster families, boy friendships, MC with ADHD, discussions of mental health, angst
I have reviewed Into the Dim‘s sequel, Sparks of Light, by Janet B. Taylor, but not the first one, so while this may seem like cheating, it’s not! I am continually baffled by the fact that more people haven’t read and loved this because it’s literally set in Scotland with time travel back to the 1800s and it’s got discussions on mental health? Why are y’all sleeping on this, what’s going on? This book is amazing, and all I want in life is a third one, so I need you to help a girl out.
Why you should read it: time travel, SCOTLAND, MC with anxiety & depression, Nikola Tesla, ughhhhh the romance
Shallow Graves was my first Kali Wallace book, and though I think I’ve reviewed every other one of hers, I’ve never reviewed this one. The premise of this hooked me right away–girl wakes up after being killed, realizes there’s a whole supernatural world out there, and she wants revenge on who killed her–but then there’s this bit in the story, when she’s finally met some other supernatural people, and she asks them if dragons are real. When they say no, she says, “Dragons would have made all this worth it.” AND WOW WHAT A MOOD.
Why you should read it: very cool supernatural world building, pissed off MC, she’s also so over men and people in general
Wow, Scott Westerfeld is a blast from the past, I know, and I still haven’t finished his Uglies series, which was one of his most popular, I think, but Afterworlds is something special. Each chapter is a different story–one, with a MC writer who is getting ready to publish her first novel, and two, with the actual story she’s trying to publish. This was such an unique way to tell this kind of story, and I really, really enjoyed it. And while I definitely loved the actual Afterworld story more, I thoroughly enjoyed getting the writer story, too. This was so interesting, and now, looking back at it, I kind of want to reread it.
Why you should read it: fellow writer problems, purgatory, BIPOC & LGBTQIAP+ MCs, discussion on cultural appropriation, both stories are badass