This is my first time doing Bout of Books, though I had stood witness to Chebk’s previous experiences with the challenge. My progress so far:
1/5 (Day One): Finished Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (240 pages).
This was both invigorating and exhausting. I got a little competitive with myself and pushed a bit hard (which wasn’t too trying because the book was gorgeous and fast-paced), so now I’m left with a reading hangover of sorts. If you’re interested in Greek mythology, queer kids, sword fights, and the end of the world, this is the book for you. (And there’s a sequel!)
Ready for BOUT OF BOOKS CHALLENGES DAY #2 (via Trees of Reverie)? Here we go!
Today’s challenge: You’ve just started to work at a bookstore (or library). What are your top 10 go-to book recommendations?
Extra prompts: Why did you choose these books? What would you say about each to a patron? What books almost but ultimately didn’t make it onto your list?
1. The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen
2. Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
3. Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
4. Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
7. It by Stephen King
8. The Magus by John Fowles
9. Red Azalea by Anchee Min
10. Watership Down by Richard Adams
Why did you choose these books?
Most of these are my favorite books and, (while I’m pretty sure a responsible bookseller would push new titles and bestsellers to keep their stores up and running), I am interested in recommending books that make for good discussion later. Maybe it’s too much time spent in English classes, tearing apart symbolism and character arcs, but I think half of the fun of reading is seeing how different readers interact with the text. Plus, I just like people getting into things I like, too. I tried to pick from a variety of genres in the hopes of playing hit or miss with hypothetical customers.
A pitch per book!:
1. The Chess Garden: A man takes a medical journey through Africa but sends back letters about a whimsical land filled with talking chess pieces instead. Deeply under-appreciated. Also, Daria read it. How can you resist?
2. Written on the Body: My all-time favorite. An anatomy-laced rumination on love. The first-person narrator never specifies their gender. Everything is lovely.
3. Kissing the Witch: Modern LGBT take on beloved fairy tales. Every princess is a witch, and every witch a princess.
4. Sirens of Titan: A time-traveler in space. With a dog. And Vonnegut’s wit. How can you go wrong?
5. Battle Royale: Forty-two kids on an island, forced to kill one another until there is only one person left standing. A Japanese predecessor to The Hunger Games. Gory and violent, but filled with a dismantling of dystopic values and the obsession with each generation blaming the next generation for the world’s wrongs.
6. Ready Player One: Not one of my personal top recs, but I would pitch this book to newcomers interested in getting back into reading. A world with virtual reality games so real it will feel disorienting when you look up from the page.
7. It: A horror masterpiece. Six kids, one seriously creepy clown that’s not really a clown, and nightmares everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
8. The Magus: Creepiest book I have ever read. Still do not understand it. Let’s talk about it. A pretentious douchebag goes to teach on an isolated Greek island and befriends an “eccentric” millionaire who starts playing “games” with him. Mindfuck upon mindfuck.
9. Red Azalea: A memoir of the Cultural Revolution as told by a young woman who believed passionately in the regime and then just as quickly starts to understand what is real and what isn’t. Also, surprise lesbians!
10. Watership Down: Yes, talking rabbits, but once you get past that, there is an incredible world with incredible characters (rabbit characters) on an epic quest for “home.”
And, lastly: ALMOST RECS:
1. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. A classic and very short, both of which are pluses for casual readers.
2. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. An expedition to an alien planet turns into a philosophical tale of science, religion, and what it means to be human.
3. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. A beautiful fantasy epic with strong women characters everywhere, (but a hard pitch due to some BDSM exploits). A political intrigue above all else, it has anything one could ever want from a story.
Are you participating in Bout of Books 12? Let us know what you’re reading in the comments! We can do this!