Friday, April 3, 2009

Book Recommendations, Part 1

Oh! This is so fun! Thanks all of you for "playing". And if anyone missed it, head over here, leave a comment, and I'll recommend books just for you!

Let me just get this out of the way first. There's one book that I'd recommend to almost anyone: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. A lot of people miss out on this book, because it's sci-fi and they think they won't like sci-fi. However, I've recommended this to tons of people, most of them rarely read sci-fi, and everyone has at least liked it; most have loved it. The premise of this book (and yes, I know it sounds kind of stupid, especially if you're not a sci-fi reader) is that Earth has been attacked by aliens. The planet pulled together, managed to defeat the aliens, but are expecting a future contingency of aliens to come and finish the job. So, a training camp has been established, to train the best and brightest of the children from the time they are very young to be perfectly equipped to fight the aliens. Ender, the title character, is a young boy conscripted for the army, one of the most promising children. I can't even tell you how wonderfully amazing this book is. It's very well-written, for starters, which is always a plus. You really feel connected to these children and get so drawn into the story. It's not an us vs. the aliens story, but rather a story of childhood and adulthood, a story of loneliness and connection, a story of truth and lies. I just love it, and recommend it to everyone, regardless of what books you normally enjoy.

As an aside, Ender's Game is part of a much larger series, but the book entirely stands on its own. In fact, while I enjoyed most of the rest of the series, I wouldn't universally recommend them as I do Ender's Game. So don't let the fact that it's a series scare you off. It's really a wildly successful stand-alone novel that supports a series.

Okay, here are some of your personalized recommendations:

LauraC and I have nearly the exact same taste in books. In fact, Laura, I saw you mentioned Spook on your blog...I forgot about that but meant to put it on my "to read when it's out in paperback" list when it originally came out! Thank you for reminding me! I know you said you don't need any book recs (heck, you've probably read everything I have!), but I'm giving you a freebie: have you read anything by Sarah Vowell? I've only read Assassination Vacation, which is about her traveling around visiting sites associated with assassinations of US Presidents. If you've missed her, check her out. If you've read her, tell me what I should read next!

Ronnica has enjoyed Ender's Game, The Life of Pi, and Atlas Shrugged. She also reviews books on The Book Nook, so I have an idea of what she likes. Of course, she's extremely well-read, which makes things more difficult! So Ronnica, I'm going a bit off-the-wall for you, since I know you're willing to try things outside your comfort zone. The first thing I'm going to suggest is a graphic novel: Fables by Bill Willingham, et. al. The first graphic novel collection is titled Legends in Exile. The premise of the series is that the characters from fables and fairy tales are real. They used to live in their own "worlds", but were forced to flee from their homes and now they have to live in exile, in our world, hiding their true identities. The first collection is a mystery. Rose Red is missing, and her apartment is covered in blood. Snow White, her sister and the current effective ruler of Fabletown, and the sheriff B. B. Wolf (yep, B. B. as in Big Bad, though don't worry, he's reformed. And a man, not wolf) try to solve the mystery. This is definitely an adult book, though by adult I don't mean erotica, I just mean adult themes, including violence and sex (though not gratuitous or graphic or anything). I just didn't want you going into this thinking it was a story for children or simply a retelling/mishmash of fairy tales.

The other book I'm going to recommend to you is non-fiction, Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story by Ann Kirschner. The story is based on letters written and received by Sala, the author's mother, during her five years in a Nazi forced labor camp. It's very well-researched and engagingly written. Also, while horrific simply due to the subject matter, it escapes being just a Nazi=Evil tale (I mean, of course that aspect is there!), but focuses more on the individuals who are often combinations of good and bad, mistakes and warts as well as bravery and love. Very good!


Okay, I'm posting installment one of these book recommendations so this post doesn't get too long. Oh yeah, and I'm sick so moving slowly, though it's such a wonderful distraction when I'm feeling well enough :)

I'll be back, working my way down the list soon!


Random unrelated thought: When TK got home tonight, I just went up to bed. N-man eventually came up to keep me company (I gave permission...don't worry! TK didn't just let a kid bug me while I was feeling sick!) Here's the conversation we had:

N-man: When I'm [my cousin's] age, my teeth will fall out?

Me: That's right. Your baby teeth will start to fall out and then you'll get your grown up teeth.

N-man: I'm going to close my mouth so my teeth don't fall out.

Me: Hmmm, I don't think that will work. Plus, it doesn't hurt for your teeth to fall out, and it's exciting to get your big teeth!

N-man: Okay. And then the tooth fairy will come and give me a present?

Me: Yep.

N-man: I wonder what color the ribbon will be.

Me: .....

N-man: On the present. I wonder what color ribbon it will have.

Me: ......

N-man: I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Isn't that totally random? He completely cracks me up with the way his brain works!


LauraC said...

Agree one million percent about Ender's Game! It is one of the few books I have re-read multiple times bc it is just THAT GOOD.

I have not read anything by Vowell so I will check it out!! And more seriously, maybe you need to post your top 25 books of all time. I'll look for my list...

Nancy said...

I'm ... too embarrassed to post what I normally read *grin* But I'll have fun reading your recommendations to others and perhaps venture out of my uh, trashy zone to enjoy something different ;)

N-man rocks LOL

HoodChick said...

So now you're going to have to tie a ribbon on his toothfairy booty?

Ahh - I have a pile of books I haven't been able to read because I never have time anymore. Sigh.

Ronnica said...

Never tried a graphic novel, so that'd be VERY stretching...but I'll check it out this summer. The other book looks right up my alley though...thanks!

Ann said...

Hi -- author of SALA's GIFT checking in to say thanks for your warm reading of my book!

Ender's Game is my son's favorite book (I love it too) so extra thanks for putting me together at least in geographic proximity. My son won't believe me until I show him your post.

I just finished two books that I loved, A Most Wanted Man and Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. I listened to both as audiobooks, and they were great.

Thanks again for your blog!

Ann Kirschner
author of Sala's Gift