Inferno by Dan Brown
It’s inevitable that one of my recommendations is going to be a Dan Brown book. Like all of his Robert Langdon books, this one is a bit formulaic (if you’ve read any of Brown’s books you’ll know what I mean). Still, this was a fantastic story with a great connection to Dante’s Inferno if you’re interested in the classics like I am.
I read this book about 2 years ago and I honestly can’t remember exactly the plot line, except that it involves Robert Langdon (yet again!) confused and caught in the middle of a deadly plan. It is incredibly fast-paced and definitely grabs the reader’s attention from the very beginning.
Out of the few Brown books that I’ve read, this one is my favorite. I’m minoring in the classics at my university and, consequentially, have great respect for Dante’s work. Dan Brown does a great job working text and illusions from Dante’s original Inferno into his book. If you’re craving a thriller that’ll have you reading until 3am, this is it.
Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
Oops, I forgot to publish this yesterday so this is more of a Monday Book Recommendation. Sorry about that!
Jodi Picoult has SO many books, everyone knows that. Almost every reader owns at least one of her books, especially after My Sister’s Keeper became a movie. Second Glance is definitely one of her lesser-known novels and it pains me that more people haven’t read it. It’s by far my favorite of her books (and I’ve read almost all of them!).
cw: suicidal ideation
Like her usual writing style, Picoult switches between many different points of view that range from children a man over 100 years old. Also, like many of her novels, this book touches on rare and controversial subjects. The ‘ultimate’ main character, Ross Wakeman, has struggled with suicidal ideation since the loss of his wife. As a compensation, he becomes a ghost hunter and lives off of the adrenaline rush that his career gives him. Ross has never actually found a ghost, but he continues searching for the sake of meeting his wife in the afterlife.
This book is about love and its boundaries. Yes, love is unconditional; but can it pass through time? I believe this is Jodi Picoult’s only paranormal romance, and it’s a fantastic one. I know Picoult’s style is love or hate, but if you love her books then please give this one a try!
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
This book was one of my favorites that I read in 2014. It’s actually rumored to become a movie in late 2015, so I recommend reading it before the film comes out! It’s definitely a really heavy story and it will stay with you for a while.
This book focuses around a lighthouse keeper, Tom Shelbourne, and his wife Isabel. The two live alone on the island of the town’s lighthouse, but are effortlessly in love and don’t mind the isolation. The couple is struck by grief after Isabel has multiple miscarriages after trying for a baby for years. As if fate is answering Isabel’s prayers, a baby washes up in a tiny boat on their shore without a note or identification. Tom suggests that they alert the mainland about the child, but Isabel persuades him to keep quiet. This is a story about Tom and Isabel living with both the joy of having a child and the grief of knowing that the baby is not their’s to keep.
Like I said, this is not a light-hearted story–it’s very dark and heavy. Nonetheless, I’m excited for it to become a film and encourage everyone to read the novel before it’s out in theaters!
Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott
I should probably re-read this book before I recommend it to people on the internet (thanks for reading my stuff, by the way!). The last time I read this was during my sophomore year in high school and I don’t think I fully understood it’s meaning. I’ll read it again soon and probably update this review.
Although it’s subtitled “A Romance of Many Dimensions”, this book is no romance. It’s definitely science fiction and philosophy mixed together. The novel is told by a character named A. Square who is, quite literally, a square. A. Square tells us of his life in Flatland, a 2-dimensional world, and what this place looks like to the triangles, circles, and hexagons, and other polygons living there.
The book opens with, “I call our world Flatland, not because I call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.” Essentially, this book is just A. Square explaining the rules and limitations of Flatland (and Lineland!), like a manual. There is no central plot line, but with each rule of Flatland explained, A. Square has a little story to go along with it.
This certainly falls under a strange, mathematical genre of science fiction. It’s a pretty short read (150 pages) and very easy to finish in one night. A. Square has a sense of humor in his narration, which adds to the lightness of the book. If you have a free night or long afternoon, please try to pick up this book!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Yes, this is a classic novel and yes, it’s almost 1,000 pages. Please, PLEASE, don’t let that turn you away from this golden work. I read this for my freshman year of college and, let me tell you, there was so much groaning over the sight of this book. But, after about 50 pages, no one whined about it anymore.
Tolstoy is a genius with words and literary devices. He can take 5 full pages to explain what it feels like to sit and spend the day on an electric grass mower and somehow not bore the reader. That takes talent.
There’s no way for me to even begin a summary of Anna Karenina. There are so many different plot lines going on that take place in different families and countries. I can’t even pick one theme to focus this recommendation on, because there simply are too many.
What I found really interesting about Anna Karenina is how it was written. An entire character with this own central storyline, Levin, was not part of the original novel. Tolstoy finished the book without a mention of Levin, re-read his draft, and decided to add a whole new character. The storylines flow so well that it’s hard to imagine the world without Levin.
In conclusion, please do not let the length of Anna Karenina stop you from reading it. It truly is a literary masterpiece that I will (try) to read again in the future.
Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
I got the kindle edition of this book last summer when it was on sale for some crazy price like 1.99. I don’t really know what caught my attention, because I don’t think I actually read the synopsis or reviews, but I’m so glad I picked it up.
This is a coming of age story about a teenage boy, Elio, discovering his developing sexuality and attraction to another, older boy named Oliver. Aciman does a beautiful job capturing Elio’s confusion and unwillingness to accept his longing for Oliver. As I read this book, I truly felt Elio’s anger at himself, Oliver, and life in general. The book takes place in Italy, and Aciman again and again goes out of his way to describe the scenery and energy of the setting. He certainly knows how to paint a picture with his words.
I love reading LGBT books. I think they’re extremely important for readers, especially young readers, to understand and enjoy. I didn’t realize that Call Me by Your Name was an LGBT romance book when I first purchased it, but I am so incredibly glad that I ended up reading it. I hope more authors follow in Aciman’s steps and write coming of age novels centered around LGBT characters.
So I’ve decided to post a book recommendation every Sunday to keep my blog active and such. The format will differ from the way I’ve been writing my book reviews, just to switch things up. I’ll try not to use the same genre twice in a row.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
I read this book last summer without checking the reviews or knowing anything about Gillian Flynn. This was before Gone Girl blew up, so I don’t think she was very well known. I remember spending the whole day in bed with my kindle because I couldn’t seem to put this book down.
As a warning, this book is creepy. I mean, it really messes with your head. Half way through, I wanted to throw the book down and never pick it up again; that’s how messed up it got. The main character, Camille, is trying to solve the murder of two preteen girls who happen to be from her home town. As a journalist, she’s forced to go back and stay with her hypochondriac mother and face the demons of her past while she simultaneously tries to figure out what happened to those two young girls. While there, Camille is confronted with a childhood tragedy that she so deeply tried to cut from her life years ago.
If you’re looking for a roller-coaster read, this is definitely it. Although Gone Girl is Flynn’s more famous novel, I’d say that Sharp Objects is her best (she also wrote Dark Places which was pretty good as well). Just as a reminder: this book may be triggering to some readers, as there are scenes that involve self-harm.
If you’ve read this book, please comment and let me know what you thought of it!