I am a book nerd. I love the idea of escaping into a world that isn’t your own. Having a bad day? Go to Hogwarts. Go to the future. Visit the past. Join the circus. Solve a murder mystery. Save the world. The list is literally endless. These are a few of my favorite stories.
*Based on the books only, not movie adaptations
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. The wizarding world of Harry Potter is so popular i highly doubt anyone who has the ability to read needs an explanation about what these books are about. So instead of explaining the plot, i’ll just talk about why i love this story so much. Rowling puts so much thought into each and every character & detail of these books and you can learn so much by reading between the lines, even as an adult. Themes of good versus evil, love, and the importance of family are saturated throughout the whole series. Every single character contributes something unique to the story. There are also some pretty clever parallels to the real world. Every book Rowling published in this series was just as good as the last (if not better), and thats a hard thing to do in a 7 book series.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. This story is almost as popular as the Harry Potter series, though it hasn’t been around nearly as long. This book is set in the future, and what used to be North America is now a country called “Panem,” consisting of 12 (*13*) districts and the capitol itself. 70+ years before the books actually takes place, all of the districts rebelled against the capitol, and every year since, as a punishment, the capitol chooses one man and one woman between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district to compete in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death, until only one is remaining. This story is about a poor girl from District 12 who volunteers to compete in the games in place of her sister. Not only is this series highly addicting, it teaches you a lot about bravery, courage, and standing up for what is right.
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” – Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
The Divergent series by Veronica Roth. The Divergent series is about another futuristic society set in Chicago. Society is broken apart by 5 different “factions.” There is Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), and Dauntless (the brave). When you are of a certain age, you take a test which determines what faction you belong in, which may or may not be the faction that you have grown up in. But there is a rare test result that you can get besides one of the 5 factions: Divergent. Getting Divergent on the test indicates aptitude for multiple factions. The main character, Tris, gets this result. On Choosing Day, instead of staying in Abnegation like her parents, she chooses to join the Dauntless.
“I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different” – Veronica Roth, Divergent
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I. love. this. book. It’s set in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The main character, Jacob, is about to graduate from Vet school and go into practice with his father. One day he is pulled out of class and because both of his parents have died in a car accident. He finds out that his parents had run out of money and the bank owns their house and his father’s vet practice, so, instead of graduating with a job, he is homeless, and has no idea where to go or what to do. He is walking along some train tracks, with one suitcase and no plans, when a train passes. He decides to jump on it, and it just so happens to be a circus train. He ends up getting a job taking care of all of the circus animals, traveling all over the country, and falling in love with his boss’s wife.
“Camel turns toward me, clears his throat, and speaks slowly, savoring each world. ‘You didn’t just jump a train, boy. You done jumped the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.'” -Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
“Dear God. Not only am i unemployed and homeless, but I also have a pregnant woman, bereaved dog, elephant, and eleven horses to take care of.” – Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. This book is a love story about two people who struggle with mental illness. Finch has struggled with mental illness for most of his life. He has always been different. Violet’s sister has recently died in car accident and she is dealing with the depression of loss. They are both from completely different crowds in school, but end up crossing paths at the beginning of the story. It’s a not so common love story that is definitely a tear jerker. When i first read this, i literally read it two times back to back because i couldn’t quit thinking about it. Theodore Finch is probably one of my favorite literary characters of all time.
“Listen, I’m the freak. I’m the weirdo. I’m the troublemaker. I start fights. I let people down. Don’t make Finch mad, whatever you do. Oh, there he goes again, in one of his moods. Moody Finch. Angry Finch. Unpredictable Finch. Crazy Finch. But I’m not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I’m a person.”
-Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. This book is another tear jerker. Its about a little girl named Liesel who is being sent to live with foster parents in Germany during World War 2. She has trouble adjusting because she can’t read or write, and so develops a close relationship with her father, “Papa”, who teaches her how. Liesel’s foster parents, Hans and Rosa, are not supportive of the Nazi party, which is why they are hiding a Jew in their basement. One of the most interesting things about this book is that it’s narrated by death. Yep, death.
“I could introduce myself properly, but it’s not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.” – Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Mystery/thriller books have always been one of my favorite kinds of books to read. This book is one of my favorites. Its a part of the “Millennium” series, but the first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, can easily stand alone. Its set in Sweden, and follows Mikael Blomkvist (a journalist) and Lisbeth Salander (a computer hacker), who come together to help solve the mystery of Harriet Vanger, who has been missing for 40 years. It’s the perfect combination of a mystery and a thriller. Not for the faint-hearted.
“Everyone has secrets. It’s just a matter of finding out what they are.” – Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
11/22/63 by Stephen King. Essentially, this is about a man who goes back in time to try to prevent the assassination of JFK. It’s difficult to describe much more about it, partly because the plot is so lengthy that its hard to fit it into just a few sentences, and partly because I know that I wouldn’t be able to do this book justice. I let myself become so emotionally invested in the story and the characters that I didn’t want it to be over, despite it being an 850 page book. It’s got a little bit of everything – science fiction, historical fiction, horror (what’s a Stephen King book without a little bit of horror?), and even romance. Totally worth the read.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it harmonizes, and what it usually makes is the devil’s music” – Stephen King, 11/22/63