When the Going Gets Tough, We Read.

Whoa, man. These last few weeks have been a real hunker down, hold onto your butts kind of time. Godeater: The Second World is nearly ready for print, a culmination of shenanigans that started way back in 2013. While putting the finishing touches on the book, I’ve kept my sanity by playing lots of Xbox (yay Smite) and reading. Last night, as I lay in bed losing my sanity all over again (thanks, children who won’t sleep EVAR), I started listing all of my favorite books- the ones that pop into my mind again and again, ones that inform, entertain, draw questions and demand answers. For your eyeball and squishy matter pleasure, here’s my list of books to hunker down with.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: This is a novel that has stuck with me since I first read it in middle school. In a stark, mass-consumption-fueled future where books are outlawed and burned, a man begins to question everything about his duty, life, and the society he lives in; are the books he helps burn legitimately a threat to the delicate balance of mankind, or are they the gateway to saving it from itself? Originally touted as a slash against censorship, Bradbury has changed his stance a few times since the book’s release; he has also said that the book is genuinely about illiteracy, and the dangers of the mass media world controlling our thoughts and actions through manipulation, dumbing us down.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton: Most authors will tell you that they wish they could have written this book or that book– for me, this is definitely one of those books. The story follows several generations of the Roux family, all of which have fallen victim to the perils of love. Ava Lavender, the most recent in the family line, is a normal girl– save the wings she was born with. These wings make her story take flight, pinning her as an object of fanatic worship, and a conquest to be conquered. Love, at times, is tragedy. The writing is lyrical and magical, and the words seem to float off the page.

The Sight and Fell  by David Clement-Davies: Wow wow wow. A two-book series that revolves around packs of wolves in Transylvania. Oh, and this is way less urban fantasy than it sounds- these are actual wolves in rural, snowy Transylvania. (I love urban fantasy, but I couldn’t help laugh at the description before the disclaimer.) Very rarely, a wolf pup comes along that is born with the gift of The Sight- the ability to read others’ minds and see into the the future. One such pup, Larka, is born into this pack, and her birth sets into motion a whirlwind of events. A lone wolf hunts her for her powers, seeking to fulfill an ancient prophecy and gain control over all wolves. A rival pack hunts her, demanding her death for such gifts. Add in humans and, well, you’ve got all the trappings for an epic story that never fails to amaze. Fell is the follow-up to this story, centered on the brother of Larka. I won’t go too far into this one, as it’s spoiler from GO.

The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland: A collection of Norse myths (insert Bill and Ted “whoaaaaaaa” here), told with literary flair. While some folk are not fans of additive conversation when discussing mythology and history, I think it adds to the narrative here. Think Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc— many of those conversations are not on record, but you cannot beat the storytelling and depth added by them. Norse is my favorite branch of mythology (shhhh, don’t tell Zeus), and while there are some historical errors scattered throughout some versions of the book, it’s one I really enjoy reading.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen: Okay, really ANY of Sarah Addison Allen’s books could go here. My love of her works started with Garden Spells, and it grows with every book birthday! The Sugar Queen follows a young woman whose entire existence has been lived from behind her mother’s wall of expectations. When a mysterious woman shows up– one who is followed by books with minds of their own– her life explodes wide open, shattering her tiny world and forcing her to actually live. Filled with magic and Southern charm, Sarah Addison Allen’s books always tug at my South-native heart strings.

So! Reading is no longer a solitary art, my friends! Are there books that make your heart sing? How about ache? Maybe make you want to go on a rampage (type of your choice)?

Okay, maybe don’t go on a rampage of the physical sort. I like you guys and don’t want to have to bail you out. But I would.

What are your favorite books? Share away! And until next time… you stay off-kilter, Book World.

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