I’m still getting into the swing of this blogging thing, so I thought it’d be fun to do some Top 5 Wednesday posts on occasion. I probably won’t keep up with this every single week, but I’ll do it when the prompts seem particularly interesting. This week’s prompt is: books to get you out of a reading slump. So without further ado:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: It seemed appropriate to start here, since I urged a friend of mine to read this book a few months ago, and she said, and I quote, “this book got me out of my reading slump.” How’s that for a testimonial? Everything I Never Told You is Celeste Ng’s brilliant debut novel about a girl whose sudden and unexpected death shocks and disarms a close-knit Asian-American family in 1970s Ohio. It’s not a book about shocking plot twists, and the mystery itself (though you do eventually get answers) takes a backseat to the compelling family dynamic. It may not sound like the most exciting book ever written, but trust me, this is an impossible to put down page-turner, which leaves you guessing and wanting more. Plus, with its short page count, this is the perfect place to start for anyone looking for an immersive reading experience without the intimidating length.
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison: This is a thoroughly disturbing story about a man who imprisons women and brands them each with an individual butterfly tattoo, housing them in his “garden” until they turn 21, at which time he kills them. When the Garden is finally discovered, FBI agents interview one of the survivors, Maya, and it turns out there’s even more to this story than meets the eye. It’s dark, twisted, fucked up, and above all else, addicting as hell. I remember I was meant to be reading a couple of other things the weekend I picked this up, but I ended up ignoring those in favor of this compulsively readable book. If you’re a fan of mysteries and/or psychological horror, this is a must-read. (Trigger warning for rape – nothing too graphic, but it’s rather omnipresent in the background throughout the story.)
The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman: Like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History with its murder-meets-academia premise, but a bit lighter on the elitism. Which isn’t a dig – TSH is one of my favorite books. But I’m opting for the possibly easier to digest Lake of Dead Languages instead for this particular Top 5 – TSH is more of a slow burn, whereas TLODL sucks you in immediately with its fast pace and intricately crafted mystery. Set at a private girl’s high school in upstate New York, we follow the story of Jane, whose own time at the high school 20 years ago ended in the tragic suicide of her two roommates. Now Jane has returned to Heart Lake to teach Latin, but when pages of Jane’s journal which has been missing for 20 years begin to turn up, she finds herself at the center of two parallel mysteries, involving both her own past and her current students. This is the perfect book for fans of the unique academic thriller genre, who want a story that’s fast paced, memorable, layered, and addicting.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart: A short and sweet book about girls kicking ass, set in 1914 New Jersey and based on a true story. When the self-reliant Constance Kopp and her sisters begin to get harassed by a local gang, they take matters into their own hands, resisting help from the male figures in their lives an opting instead to protect themselves. While it’s mostly a light and fluffy read, it still packs quite an emotional punch with its endearing and vivid characters, fast moving chapters, and intriguing plot. Recommended for readers in search of feminism, escapism, or some combination of the two. It’s a delightful story that sucks you in immediately.
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson: This isn’t your average teen angst book. Set at a high school in an upscale California suburb and focusing on the lives of a wide array of students, Lindsey Lee Johnson’s debut novel breathes new life into the teenage drama narrative. TMDPOE toes the line between the adult fiction and YA genres – I was unsure how to classify this book when I added it on goodreads, but really, does it matter? As an adult reader, I never felt condescended to; rather, there’s an honesty and an urgency to this narrative which consistently treats all of its teen protagonists with respect. Both a thrilling page-turner and an incisive commentary on wealth and privilege, this is a tour de force debut novel that I read in one sitting.
Have you guys read any of these books? Comment and let me know what you thought!