Today is Book Lovers Day! This is the first time that I’ve heard of it. To no one’s surprise, I love reading and I love books. I think all things literary should be celebrated. To celebrate this day, I thought I’d write up a quick post with some of my favorite books. Some of these are novels and some may be short story collections.
EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng
This is a novel that I still constantly think about. All the characters are flawed in a realistic way. I did sometimes find myself hating James or Marilyn and at other times could relate or at least empathize. I think this novel is a powerful exploration of interracial marriage, racism in the 70s, and parental expectations. I was drawn in from the first page and that interest never wavered.
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Sanez
I believe this novel is classified as a young adult novel and it’s a damn good one! The novel follows the titular characters who are both Mexican-American. Ari and Dante are so different from one another as Dante is open about who he is and outwardly confident and Ari doesn’t exhibit those same traits and struggles inwardly with identity. This novel is a great examination of ethnic identity and familial relationships and furthermore an exploration of sexuality. It’s wonderful to see gay men of color represented especially in an ethnic background who are considered ‘macho’. I’m excited for the sequel!
THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
This is a novel I read numerous times. I believe this was the novel that introduced me to dystopia fiction as a child. This novel shows the importance of individuality and memory. Jonas’ realization that the world he lives in is not a utopia coincides with his coming of age. I believe this book is a great stepping stone for young readers that inspires free-thinking and encourages voracious reading.
IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini
Oftentimes we as a society like to tiptoe around mental illness or worse have an incorrect preconceived notion of what it means to have depression. It was refreshing to read a novel where the protagonist had a suicidal episode but the novel wasn’t dreary. It’s important for all of us to remember that having depression doesn’t mean that someone can’t have moments of happiness or laughter. I enjoyed this novel and its characters. I am still saddened that Ned is no longer with us.
OUR STORY BEGINS by Tobias Wolff
Tobias Wolff is by far one of the greatest American short story writers. This particular collection features many of his greatest stories published elsewhere as well as new ones. This collection features one of my favorite short stories BULLET IN THE BRAIN. That story alone shows Wolff’s apt for conciseness and his ability to feature characters with depth.
WOODCUTS OF WOMEN by Dagoberto Gilb
I find Gilb’s colloquial writing incredibly compelling. There are people who view Gilb’s writing as misogynistic but I see this short story collection as an examination of Mexican-American men’s lust and love with women. At heart it’s about relationships between men and women and the complications of that. It’s also about everyday people and everyday life. At no point do I feel that the writer condones some of the characters less savory acts.
There are definitely many other books and short story collections I have read that I have devoured and enjoyed but the above are top-notch and I recommend. Of course there are so many other books I want to read. I am currently reading THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko. I’ve added CHEMISTRY by Weike Wang, LOTERIA by Mario Alberto Zambrano, LOVING PEDRO INFANTE by Denise Chavez, and THE LAST NEANDERTHAL by Claire Cameron to my reading list.
I’m also looking forward to LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng out in September and SUICIDE CLUB by Rachel Heng in 2018.
Leave your recommendations in the comments.