A few of my favorite reads from 2014

I read the first chapter of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and a few pages of The Invisible Man. I read half of World War Z, before I stopped out of fear of becoming utterly depressed about humanity’s future. I got two-thirds of the way through Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, before I became distracted that first week of school.

In conclusion, my summer goal to read different genres of books kind  of crashed and burned. Yet, I have made the goal an open ended challenge, because despite disagreeing with the controversial “Against YA” article, it did make me consider the idea of becoming a more diverse reader. One day it shall come to pass. Meanwhile, I will not moan about my reading choices. I read some excellent stories with profound meaning in 2014 and I hope that you read one or two in 2015. A story’s message is important to me, even if the story is not scripted in the proper Literature way (Storytelling shapes and involves over time, so I believe there is no conclusive right way to narrate) and a good message can help me self reflect positively or even influence my reactions to events in my daily commute and the wider world around me.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – It is part comic book, part memoir, part comedy, part narrative on a twenty year’s old perspective of life. It is an Impressionist painting. At first glance, the book appears to be an innocent humorous story with an angst filled cartoon, pink wearing character. But behind the hilarity, there is another narrative about coping and dealing with life’s obstacles and self reflection on one’s humanity and impulses. It took me around three hours to read the book, and then I reread parts of it wondering why the author seemed to mirror what I was thinking (Is this scary or relieving?)

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rokaff – I discovered this book in my attempt to read more serious “adultish” reads. When I was taking my memoir writing class, the professor mentioned that my writing had the feel of J.D. Salinger’s work. I had only heard of Salinger’s famous book Catcher in the Rye, so I decided to do a little research that lead me to read this book instead of Salinger’s actual books. It is a memoir about a young woman who works for Salinger’s literary agency. Maybe, I thought it was interesting because I could relate to the fresh out of college, going it along, making mistakes persona of the author’s younger self. Yet, I too enjoyed reading about single life in the 1990s and the influence and impact famous authors had on readers and the people who worked with them.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown– As soon as I saw that reviewers were relating it to Hunger Games and Ender’s Game, I thought “No way am I going to read a cheap copy of those books!” Yet, there was a small part of me that wanted the reviewers to be true. I read the book.

Let’s just say I had a reader’s mountain top experience and I had a hard time reading anything, after I finished the book. Of course, the government system and the main character’s predicament is similar to that of Hunger Games, but the book has more of an Ender’s Game feel. The characters grapple (and even discuss) the principles of war, leadership, power, and the big question that all hero centric stories seemed to be asking these days. What is best for humanity? What is the cost?

When it comes to brutality and violence, it leaves Hunger Games and Ender’s Game in the dust. Attack on Titans comes to mind when I think of an equal comparison. Thank goodness the sequel comes out soon!

Checkmate (the final book in the James Bower series) by Steven James – I am about to make a bold claim. . . okay, I won’t. I will say that Steven James has written one of the best crime novel series in the past decade. At the conclusion of Checkmate, I felt like I could be a crime investigator. Throughout, this seven book series he explains an unconventional way of solving crime (He believes in location over motive based steps to crime solving) that helps the hero catch killers that outpace even Hannibal Lecter and the Joker in psychotic behavior and murder creativity.

Steelheart by Brandon Anderson – It sounds like a generic science fiction tale of people who are given superhuman abilities and are at odds with their world (the United States part of the world). However, it is a fun, exciting story that will leave you gasping a little like Darth Vader because of the suspenseful conclusion and the impressive powers the bad guys have (It is Bad superheroes vs. Normal broke humans).  In Chicago, a young man decides to join a rebel group, mostly to avenge his father’s death by a super human called . . . STEELHEART. Steelheart would be invincible, but he has one weakness. If the boy can find the weakness, he can destroy Steelheart (No, Steelheart is not his father).

Seriously, I hope 2015 is the year you pick up one of these books. In the mean time, I am hoping to read the sequels to Steelheart and Red Rising, and the next untitled Steven James book. Oh, I will also be reading other genres, except romance, of course. Please let it be known, that this is only a tentative resolution.



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