Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve (I’ve) all been waiting on: I’m reading
Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve (I’ve) all been waiting on: I’m reading
aka These are the books that will stay with me forever.
Before I get into my top five, let’s talk about my bonus book: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. This one I had to read while in Secondary School and most people try to blank out the recommended reading, but not me. Especially not with this book.
‘For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine.’
Willy Loman has been a salesman for 34 years. At 60, he is cast aside, his usefulness exhausted. With no future to dream about he must face the crushing disappointments of his past. He takes one final brave action, but is he heroic at last or a self-deluding fool?
Throughout this short play we follow Willy as he tries to feel relevant again. It must be a hard thing doing a job for more than half your life only to be cast aside as a relic of a time gone past. His hurt and confusion comes across quite clearly, and I would never forget him saying: ‘Attention, attention must be paid,‘ as he pleads for his wife, for his family, to see him. Can’t help but want to hug him.
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
After reading this one I was compelled to do a full review, that’s how much it resonated with me.
In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.
Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.
Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.
Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.
This one covers every angle, and yes, there are problematic things about it, but there is so much in here that deserves to be seen. Being from a country that didn’t live through these kinds of race issues (because we do have our own race issues here), this book opened my eyes to a lot that I hadn’t considered before. I knew it was bad, but in that abstract way that you know falling out of a moving vehicle would be bad: there was nothing to use as context, to make it real and relatable.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I’m not sure I can say why this one broke me without spoilers so…um…GO READ THE BOOK!
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Much like LWTO, this one hurt me for its harsh realities.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them – in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul – they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
There is domestic violence, emotional abuse, poverty and child-loss, all interwoven with the constant dangers of an at war country. So much death, and fear, and oppression. This is worth the read.
More Happy Than Not
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
Who the hell needs dry eyes anyway, right? Right?!! This was such a dark and twisty read, even my stomach felt its effects. Just when you think you’ve gotten to the point where you can’t hurt anymore, Silvera adds an extra layer of pain. Beautiful right, heartwrenching premise and characters that move you. BUY EVERYTHING THAT ADAM WRITES, RIGHT NOW!
History is All You Left Me
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
Oh. God. This. Book.
Griffin is such a broken boy and his worsening compulsions perfectly reflect that. But that’s not what hurt me in this book. What hurt me is the fact that Jackson and Griffin are hurting over someone who may or may not be worthy of that pain. He certainly wouldn’t have wanted them dwelling on him like they did. But life doesn’t work that way; we don’t get to choose who burrows their way into our hearts and leave it shredded. Read it.
Have you read any of these? Did they break you too? What books have wormed their way into your heart hole?
The books that, at the end of 2016, I was most looking forward to this year, in no particular order. I thought I’d update you all on how that’s been going for me. *spoiler alert* Not bad at all, but it could be better.
Waking Gods (Book 2 of the Themis Files)by Sylvain Neuvel – APRIL 4, 2017. I loved book 1, which ended on the most painful cliffhanger known to man. Plus, look at the cover!
As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer now than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.
Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.
Read: June 2017
Our Dark Duet (Book 2 of Monsters of Verity) by Victoria Schwab – JUNE 13, 2017. Book 1 was an enjoyable read that left me craving.
Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
Read: August 2017.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera – SEPTEMBER 5, 2017. This sounds like such a heartwrenching book, and after reading More Happy Than Not I know that Adam does heartwrenching well.
Set in a near-future New York City where a service alerts people on the day they will die, the novel follows teens Mateo and Rufus, who meet using the Last Friend app and are faced with the challenge of living a lifetime on their End Day.
I CANNOT WAIT!!!
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera – JANUARY 17, 2017. More heartbreak. It’s what he does best.
OCD-afflicted Griffin has just lost his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident. In an attempt to hold onto every piece of the past, he forges a friendship with Theo’s last boyfriend, Jackson. When Jackson begins to exhibit signs of guilt, Griffin suspects he’s hiding something, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth about Theo’s death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth both in terms of what he’s willing to hide and what true love means.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – APRIL 11, 2017. Again, heartbreak.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
Read: May 2017
Wires and Nerves Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer – JANUARY 31, 2017. Marissa Meyer: Check. More Lunar Chronicles: Check. That’s all. The. End.
When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.
You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner – MARCH 7, 2017. Look at the pretty cover! Also, this will be the first book (as far as I can remember)that I’ve read about a deaf/hard-of-hearing main character.
When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
Hunted (Book 1 of Hunted) by Meagan Spooner- MARCH 14, 2017. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. that’s all I needed to know really.
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
Read: June 2017