I like to read books a lot. So much, in fact, that I like to think of myself as sort of a recommendation master. I never get a chance to actually recommend the books I’ve read to other people, so I am always filled to bursting with ideas for “if you like this, then you’ll love…” recommendations.
Here are a few recommendations based upon the books I’ve been reading lately:
First, an easy (and obvious) choice: Read Divergent, by Veronica Roth, if you loved The Hunger Games. Or if you love dystopian fiction in general. These are sure to thrill you.
If you’ve read Trenton Lee Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society books, move ahead with Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms (or Small Change for Stuart in the UK) by Lissa Evans. The books both feature mysteries, puzzles, and a sense of chidlike wonder. It’s perfect for a clever kid, that really smart kid who loves to read in your life.
I feel like there are a lot of Twilight knockoffs out there, but for one that has nothing to do with vampires but reminded me so much of Stephenie Meyer’s books (even the relationship between the two main characters aggravated me in exactly the same way!), read Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini, which is an epic romance with Greek demigods instead of fanged bloodsuckers.
Two books that I read this year were set in the 1920s in barren lands that heavily feature story lines involving a couple finally getting a child they have been waiting for, which I find very odd. The Australian-lighthouse-island book, M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, is the more psychological-character-study of the two. The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, was (for me, at least) the more emotionally resonant of the two, set in Alaska featuring a take on a heartbreaking Russian fairytale called “Snegurochka.” If you read and enjoyed one of these books, I encourage you to read the other.
My next recommendation depends on which part of the book you liked: Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is about a man doing some thinking about the past and walking a long distance to visit a friend. If you liked the actual walking part, then it’s a no-brainer to read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, his travelogue that chronicles his journey on the Appalachian Trail. If the musings on life and memory and past actions are more your thing (or, in general, really “British” novels), go for the Booker-Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I couldn’t get either of these books out of my head while I was reading Joyce’s novel.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, from Matthew Dicks, is perfect for fans of several different books. Plotwise, I was reminded of The Borrower (Rebecca Makkai); in terms of perspective, this book–narrated by the imaginary friend of a boy with Asperger’s or something like it–reminded me simultaneously of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Emma Donoghue’s Room. People who enjoyed the children’s television show Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends will also get a kick out of another look at imaginary friends in the context of the real world (but fair warning, it’s much sadder than the high-energy antics of the Cartoon Network show).
Graphic novel fans will not want to miss Chris Ware’s Building Stories, which is incredibly innovative: rather than a book, buying yourself a copy of Ware’s latest work means you have a Monopoly-sized box full of odds and ends, pieces which each contain various stories that are independent but interlinking. The concept enough is worth a look, but what’s inside the box is quite emotionally powerful. Stories of ordinary people doing completely ordinary things in their apartment building can be such a downer!
Also on my list for graphic novel enthusiasts is Sailor Twain, by Mark Siegel. Originally serialized online, this tale of mermaids and the Hudson River in the late 1800s was astonishing in all aspects: an art style that strove between cartoony and realistic, happy and gloomy, the story that drew me like a siren’s song (I am making a pun because this is part of the story), and a lovely thematic blend of romance and fantasy.
Adult fans of John Green (and specifically, The Fault in Our Stars) will probably love Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt. The story of a 1980s middle school girl losing her beloved uncle to AIDS reminded me heavily of Green’s oeuvre, and more mature readers will probably appreciate the added complexity and flawed characters that appear in Brunt’s novel.
My last recommendation is to everyone: I encourage and beg you to pick up a copy of The Song of Achilles, the Orange Prize winner from 2012. I read it and was absolutely blown away. It is one of the best love stories I’ve ever read.