A Reader's Guide to Great Books

Let's Read!

I love reading. There are so many books out there these days and so little time. But that's a good thing! I'd rather have a tremendous amount of choice to go through than not enough. But there was a time that I only read one type of book. I loved fantasy and that was it. As a kid, I grew up on The Lord of the Rings and then Dungeons & Dragons. I loved elves, magic and wizards.

But all of that changed when a relative gave me a bag of hardback books. I pulled them out of the bag and looked at the covers and a few caught my eye. They were science fiction from Isaac Asimov. I gave one of his books a try and was hooked.

Thirty years later (ouch, I can't believe so much time has passed), I admit that I do have my favorite type of genres that I like to read, but I do try different types of books from time to time. Maybe you only read one type of book. I'd ask you to take a chance and try something different. You might say that you don't like science fiction or fantasy or horror, but the books that I have listed here might be in space, or a future dystopia but there's more to it than that. I love these books because of the characters in them and the deeper themes. They changed my life and caused me to think and question what I know. And if a book can do that, well, I want to share these with you. You may not like all of these books, but I'd suggest that you read the descriptions and give one a try.

I found Annihilation at my library at work and really, really enjoyed it. The book is disturbing in that I didn't know what to expect, where it was going and it just got creepier and creepier as it went on. So what's it about? In the future, there's the "Southern Reach" in which some unexplained event took place years ago. Scientists have tried to go into the area for many years, but no one know what really happened to the previous set of explorers. The current expedition begins encountering some strange events and then things get really weird.

I don't want to say much about All the Birds in the Sky because I think it's best experienced without knowing what it's really about. Imagine science and magic going up against each other by being represented by two childhood friends. Anders' book is a heart-wrenching look into being bullied and how to grow up in a world where you're different and just can't quite fit in.

Ann Leckie's book won lots of awards and I read it with great interest. I don't think I had ever read a book that confused me as much as this book. Imagine an alien race that takes on bodies and can replicate its consciousness across multiple beings. Yet what happens when one of the hive minds wakes and tries to uncover an injustice that's taken place. Ancillary Justice intrigued me because it forced me to think of gender and identity from a totally alien perspective.

Maybe you saw the movie recently or heard about the book. But if you haven't read The Fault in Our Stars, please check this one out. It was my favorite book of the year that it came out and I just couldn't get enough of it. What's it about? A young girl recovering from cancer meets a boy and they fall in love. What a book that really touched me. I finished the book and just wanted to talk to someone else who had read it. Yes, it was THAT type of book.

Binti won the Hugo award in 2016 in science fiction and I heard a lot of great things about the book. A young girl from Africa travels across the stars to go to college. When her heritage and past come in conflict with who she will become, she struggles to fit in and then the book just goes down a path I never could have imagined.

I do hope that you will give one of these books a try. In return, I ask a favor of you:

Tell me what your favorite book of the last three years is.