Excited about this topic! I’ve kind of touched on it in earlier posts but am going to talk about a couple of titles I haven’t mentioned before that are quite special. This Thursday Discussion book prompt is from Ally Writes Things, the original post showcasing the topic is here.
September 5: books you want everyone to read
The way I’m approaching this theme is in bringing up books that I think offer something- a new viewpoint, a perspective rarely understood or some other aspect that makes it uniquely worth checking out. And they’re some of my favorites that I think offer something special and relevant, thus wanting everyone to read them. Some of the books are popular but most are kind of on the margins or nearly forgotten.
(Even though these are in numbered order, they’re not in any particular order of preference.)
So I wrote and subsequently lost probably 9,000 (may be quite an exaggeration, lol) notes I’d written while reading this book. This book grabbed me, you guys. I LOVED IT. Still my favorite book of 2019 even though I read it in January. Might make my all-time top 10. Warning that this book is probably more suited for ages 18+. Though I think it could offer such valuable talking points for 16+. Still to be on the safe side, 18+. The story is from the unique perspective of a stalker, putting us in his shoes and not unlike the narrating character in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, he cleverly sneaks into the reader’s mind and makes some unacceptable things very intriguing to read about. He has a compelling voice that seduces and manipulates. What struck me most about this book is the ending. It reveals the author’s true intent and motive. There was a certain little thing that felt almost like a humorous indictment of anyone who had been naively swayed by this character. Not intending to spoil but lets just say I, being too-often a fan of problematic characters, felt much more critical of my own tendencies after reading. This book really makes you think about traits that are popularly romanticized within characters and how those traits, left unchecked, can flower into full on dysfunction. Full review coming in the future.
This is also known as the YA novel that made me ugly cry for multiple days and put me in a reading slump for about a year. Whatever I read after Forbidden sucked, it was that swaying. This is a story about a family helmed by two siblings who are left to take care of their little brothers and sisters. It contains an unthinkable plot element- consensual incest. I’m pretty sure 99% of people would immediately run away at the thought but the great accomplishment of this book is in taking a theme so universally reviled and creating a believable scenario in which the reader wants to help the characters entrenched in it. Not necessarily agree with them, but see and understand a perspective that is typically avoided for its grossness. The risk paid off hugely with this one, as it seems to have almost universally glowing reviews. One of my favorite YA. Still love its main character Lochan, forever.
You know the witch from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale? This is a remake of that story, only tweaked considerably. It’s told from the point of view of the witch and has a tragic ending that gives her character and sympathy. It’s amazing how changing just a few small details utterly morphed the original fable. This is a short read and left a big impact on me growing up, kind of helped cement thinking outside the box. It’s very short yet effective. Plus I just wish everyone knew about Donna Jo Napoli’s books.
I’m just adding this one because literally no one has ever heard of it. This book has less than 700 ratings on Goodreads. I read it at a time where I was trying out all sorts of wildly successful YA series. Aria was a middle grade, unpopular little paperback by some unknown author. What’s inside was vastly superior writing and a wonderful female cast. Fantastic friendships between the girls and uplifting storytelling. And finally, one of my favorite things- a villainess who later becomes the main character’s best friend. The enemies-to-friends is beautiful here. Maybe the most underrated book ever that has themes that are heavily requested and clamored for in the here and now.
Trigger warning for rape in this book, not detailed, but the aftermath of how the victim is treated by society is shown in pretty grueling detail. For that, I understand everyone should not read it- however, it has some content that I think everyone should know about. My review is here. What stuck out to me about this book is how it naturally explains why victims often don’t come forward and the barriers they face when doing so. The bit about rape kits and a character’s experience with one is especially eye-opening. A very warm book full of emotion and positive aims, though there were some aspects I didn’t care for.
I think I’ve already gushed at length about this book in my review here. It’s just an important book and I’m confident it will be remembered. A sort of modern classic of YA.
Wow, I went into this post not sure if I’d have anything to say but here we are! I’m glad to have tackled this one and many thanks to Ally for thinking of the concept. If you end up doing this discussion post, I’d love to see your choices. And as always, your comments and thoughts on these selections are always of interest.