Books read: 40
Words on WIP: 8,500
I'm deep in the drafting cave right now. Since I (finally) settled on a project that I'm excited about pursuing, I've been doing my best to get a first draft on the page.
The thing with first drafts is that they pretty much always make me feel like I don't know anything about writing. So, I'm not going to be posting about writing for the next few weeks.
Instead, I'm going to talk about books I've read.
Since I'm a person that reads a lot, I get asked for book recommendations pretty regularly.
Rather than just listing books I like, I want to tie my recommendations to specific tropes, archetypes, and trends that I like. I read a pretty wide variety of books, but there are some specific things that pretty much always catch my attention in books. For these lists, I'll tell you a little about some of my favorite elements and recommend a book or two that showcase that element.
We Are the Monsters
I read a lot of genre fiction that pits humans against supernatural creatures or beings from outer space. A pretty frequent theme in these stories is humanity banding together to defeat a common enemy. But what's more interesting are the stories that make me question what it means to be human--ones that point out that human and monster aren't mutually exclusive categories.
I've talked about this duology before, but it's one of my favorites. In the Monsters of Verity series, violent acts create actual monsters--the worse the violence, the smarter and more dangerous the monster. The city of Verity is divided. A human, Harker, offers protection from the monsters in exchange for a hefty fee. On the other side of the wall, Flynn pushes for stopping the problem of monsters before it starts--and using the most dangerous type of monster, soul-stealing Sunai.Harker's daughter, Kate, wants to prove that she's worthy of her father's monstrous reputation. Flynn's Sunai son, August, just wants to be a normal boy. These books were based on one idea: Plenty of humans are monstrous, and plenty of monsters know how to play at being human.
Grief and Grieving
Loss is always difficult to cope with, and reading has been one of the tools I've used to work out my own feelings. Art--movies, plays, books--give us an chance to vicariously experience the emotions of grief. They help us find catharsis. They give us some tools to deal with these difficulties in our own lives without us having to go through a trauma of our own.
For this category, I have a genre recommendation and a contemporary recommendation.
THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER follows a girl named Leigh who is navigating the aftermath of her mother's death by suicide. Leigh is convinced that, after her mother died, she turned into a bird. To find out what her mother's spirit is trying to tell her, she takes a trip to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents and connect with the parts of her mother she never knew. This book is devastating--and I mean that in the best possible way. Leigh's journey is as much about figuring out how to manage the way her life has changed as it is about developing an understanding of her mother's struggle. Plus, the prose is beautiful.
UNDEAD GIRL GANG is one of my favorite reads from this year. Mila's best friend was found dead in the park in what the authorities think was part of a suicide pack with two of their school's queen bees. Unsatisfied with the official explanation, Mila casts a spell to bring back the dead, hoping that her best friend will be able to tell her what happened. Unfortunately, she also brings back the other two girls and is no responsible for managing three undead girls for a week while they work out who killed them. This book isn't the gut-wrencher that ASTONISHING COLOR is, but it does dig into the power of grief. Though Mila gets her friend back temporarily, she does have to figure out how to live in a world where her best friend is there. It's got some great action, wonderful friendship, and magic.
That's it for part one! I'll be back with another round of recommendations. If there are specific tropes, trends, or archetypes you'd like to see recommendations for, let me know.