Good morning, bookwormies out there everywhere! Most of you who actually read my ramblings probably know that I’m participating in a readathon event called Bout-of-Books. Today is Day #4 in said event and there is a very special challenge on this over-heated California day: If You Like This, Try Reading This recommendation challenge. Now, I will confess that I literally kicked myself in the shin (okay, more like face-palmed to the temple) that I hadn’t thought of something like this much sooner, I mean it’s really quite brilliant but “common sense” at the same time, isn’t it?
In any event, there were some titles and genres that immediately flocked into my mind when I read about today’s task. I have books to recommend across a variety of genres, so if you are in the market for something new and fresh, a narrative to perfectly sink your teeth into while sticking close to your comfy zones (or maybe something insane and uncomfortable to jump into), buckle-up and hold on to your hats, ladies and gents!
Magical Realism / Surrealism
Magical Realism is one of my favorite genres, and it is mostly thanks to the immensely talented Haruki Murakami. So enthralled by his work, I hungrily sought out other writers in the genre, and I was delightfully surprised with the variety that I found. Diversity in books is extremely important to me, both as a reviewer, a reader, and as a writer. Thus, when I stumbled upon Murakami, as well as Salman Rushdie, I felt like I was floating on surrealistic clouds of joy. If you like stories that are seemingly straightforward, but have a beautifully magical element beneath the simplistic characters and events, something that makes you think ever so subtly about life, then check out these titles!
- After Dark by Haruki Murakami – This book is follows two young women, who are sisters. One of them is in a dreamlike, sleep-state while the other one studies diligently into the long hours of the night, contemplating her relationship with her sibling. At the surface, it appears to be a tale of two ladies who have somehow become adrift, but as you keep reading you find that at its core After Dark is a novel about family, relationships, acceptance of oneself, and loneliness.
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – A novel that follows Toru through his life in college, where he meets two distinctly different women, one of which shares a terrible tragedy from his past. At its heart, Norwegian Wood is a narrative about romance—the good, the terrible, and the sorrow. The surrealistic nature is far subtler in this title than the one above, but it’s still there, lingering in the background making you ponder whether the people are emotionally unstable, or just brilliantly capable of dealing with grief. I RECOMMEND THIS SO HARD!
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie – A tremendously controversial novel that weaves magical realism into contemporary events or people to create a work of fiction. Because the book heavily utilizes The Satanic Verses (allowance of intercessory prayers to three Pagan Meccan goddesses) from the Qur’an, the work received an outcry of criticism from Islamic communities. As a Muslim, while I could relate to the “blasphemous” nature of the novel, I felt it was damn well-written and exquisitely telling. Rushdie is innately gifted with braiding reality to fiction with surrealistic elements and it’s breathtaking; a compulsory experience for every reader. (Did I mention that it’s SO contentious that it’s actually BANNED in India?)
My drug genre, the one subject that I can never get enough of, and when I do sit down to indulge myself, I positively gorge in glee. Science-fiction is a gorgeously multi-faceted category for literature. Within its walls, you will find cyberpunk, science-fantasy, culturally-heavy world-building with sciencey attributes, space, space, and more space, and finally (but not lastly as it continues on and on) steampunk! I’ve collected a titles from each of these subgenres, so if you like science-fiction, whether all the different sorts, or just one particular kind, then check out the novels below!
- Koko Takes a Holiday by Keiran Shea – A retired bounty-hunter ends up being the hunted in this amazingly fast-paced, action-jammed, cyberpunk novel. It’s filled with vulgarity and lots of badass theatrics with our entertaining and sassy female protagonist, Koko! If you like space operas, then check ‘er out!
- Binti & Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor – If you want science-fiction that is astoundingly interlaced with African culture and lore, then you MUST check out these two titles by Nnedi Okorafor! Her writing is fluid and wholeheartedly captivating from the world-building, to the lore, culture, and values, to the deep and thought-provoking variety of characters, to the fantastic science attributes involving aliens, spaceships, and new worlds—it’s all so bloody good!
- Steamborn by Eric R. Asher – A nicely written story with just enough steampunk attributes to make it refreshing and easily accessible. This is a great novel for newbies to the steampunk genre. While there are gadgets and gizmos, it won’t overwhelm you or drag your reading experience down. The characters are easy to empathize with, while the plot sweeps you away.
- The Legends of Dune Trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson – Dune by Frank Herbert is an imaginative and entirely original literary feat, but it can be complex and rather heavy to trudge through, especially if you aren’t already somewhat familiar with the genre. The Legends of Dune, which take place 10,000 years before the events of Dune, is wonderful introduction into the series as well as exceptionally fluid and captivating. Lots of stuff going on amidst a backdrop of galactic war and crazy self-sufficient robots. It is positively brilliant.
Manga & Comics
Another genre that I’m enthusiastically addicted to: graphic novels! I absolutely adore the medium and have some truly enjoyable titles for anyone else who likes these bad boys, or maybe you’re new and looking for somewhere to begin; I can help with that too! If you like shōjo, suspense, sports, or violent superheroes, then check out the graphic novels below!
- Say “I Love You” by Kanae Hazuki – This manga serial is one of my top five favorite manga of all time. It’s a romance, shōjo series that is lovely and different from standard shōjo tropes. Yamato and Mei end up formulating a relationship quite early on in the story, and together they face really serious topics such as eating disorders, teen sex, bullying, the fear of adulthood, etc. They do it in a way that is realistic and excruciatingly important for an adolescent audience. Nothing is sugar-coated, but nothing is hopeless either. The art is simple, gorgeously drawn, and the story charmingly written.
- Initial D by Shuichi Shigeno – MY FAVORITE SERIES IN EXISTENCE is a sports manga series that revolves around the world of drift racing. Racing is an immensely intricate and dangerous sport and Shigeno-san does a phenomenal job of sharing this sport with the rest of the world with sharp, brimming panels, and an accessible description of what drift racing is, the different types of drifts, the different kinds of racers, and what makes everything fall into place, or fall apart. It is so damn addicting to read. The characters are all different on some level, and most of them are just plain hilarious (i.e.: Iggy). I cannot recommend this series enough, seriously can’t.
- ES: Eternal Sabbath by Fuyumi Soryo – Fuyumi Soryo creates an eerie, intellectual tale of a boy who was grown in a laboratory with special powers for mind control. He walks a path of self-sufficiency, not choosing to be good or bad, until he comes face to face with another man just like him; a man that is decidedly very evil and lacking conviction of conscience. If the story isn’t enough to utterly engross you into its pages, then the elegant, clean, and poignant art style should be. It is ABSOLUTELY graceful.
- The Punisher Complete Collection (Marvel MAX) by Garth Ennis – If you like comics that are extremely honest and true to the characters they revolve around, with unforgiving action, language, and plot elements, then you MUST check out The Punisher MAX Collection because it is in-your-face splendid. The artwork is vivid and meticulous in depicting The Punisher’s persona, but the story is also very raw and candid in its telling of Frank Castle’s life—the sins, the grief, the passion.
- Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – SPACE OPERA WITH WIT, WEIRD-ASS ALIENS WITH TELEVISIONS FACES, LOTS OF RAUCOUS HUMOR, ENTHRALLING ACTION, VIVACIOUS CHARACTERS WITH THE DEPTH AND WARMTH OF LADY PARTS… I mean seriously, must I go on? Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are a dangerous duo for when their powers combine, AWESOME SHIT HAPPENS!
Well, I think I have written way more than I had originally intended, and the sad part (or great depending on whether you enjoyed this insanity), is that I could go on and on and on with my recommendations. If there’s a genre that you like that I did not cover in this novel-sized post, then please don’t hesitate to message me! I’m addicted to Twitter and check everything else a few times a day. One of the perks of being hooked to my computer, I suppose.
Love, tea and coffee, with hugs and kitty-cat kisses to everyone. May your reading be fun and enthralling!