Category: All Books

National Book Award Finalists For Young People’s Literature

The National Book Foundation has unveiled the finalists for the National Book Awards. Listing five books each in five categories, they’ve given us some recognizable names, but it’s going to be an interesting year considering that none of the authors have taken home a National Book Award in these categories before.

For this article, we’re going to show you what made it into the ‘Young People’s Literature’ category.

 

 

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

 

Pet by [Emezi, Akwaeke]

Image Via Amazon

 

This book follows Jam and her best friend, Redemption, as they learn that monsters exist and suddenly meet Pat, a creature made of horns and colors and claws that emerges from one of Jam’s mother’s paintings thanks to a drop of Jam’s blood.

Now Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but it’ll be tough given that no one in this world believes in monsters.

How does one navigate in a world that is in denial about what you yourself know to be the truth?

Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks this all important question, and many more, in their timely young adult debut. Kirkus Reviews praised this addition to YA as a “…soaring novel shoots for the stars and explodes the sky with its bold brilliance.”

 

Look Both Ways: A tale told in ten blocks by Jason Reynolds

 

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by [Reynolds, Jason]

Image Via Amazon

 

As Kirkus Reviews notes, this is a “collection [that] brims with humor, pathos, and the heroic struggle to grow up.” The overarching story is that a school bus fell from the sky, but no one saw it happen. Going through the day-to-day life of ten children all on a different block, we discover what really happens after the last school bell rings and what goes through our minds as we walk from home and, more importantly, what we ignore.

 

 

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

 

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by [Ruby, Laura]

Image Via Amazon

 

Here we follow the story of Frankie, who’s been an orphan ever since her mother died and her father left her and her siblings in an orphanage. Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

But now the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and with the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death all around, the odds are against Frankie to make it in his doggone world.

NPR notes that “[t]here may be wolves behind all the doors, but there is also a whole world beyond for those bold enough to push them wide.”

 

1919: The Year That Changed America by Martin W. Sandler

1919

IMAGE VIA Amazon

 

In 1919 (obviously) America was recovering from World War I, black soldiers returned to racism so violent that that summer would become known as the Red Summer, the suffrage movement had a long-fought win when women gained the right to vote, laborers turned to the streets to protest working conditions, and a national fervor led to a communism scare. It was the year that prohibition went into effect.

A hundred years later, Sandler looks back at each of these movements, looking at their momentum and their setbacks, showing that progress isn’t always a straight line. More than a history book, Sandler has crafted an “entertaining and instructive look at a tumultuous year.”

 

PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING BY RANDY RIBAY

Patron Saints of Nothing

IMAGE VIA GOODREADS

 

This high school English teacher and YA novelist has a breakout hit with this June 18th release. Critically acclaimed, this Filipino-American author gives his most personal story yet:

The novel explores Jay, whose cousin is killed as part of Duterte’s drug war, as he travels to the Philippines in an attempt to unravel the mystery of his cousin’s death, confronting a place he thought he knew.

Kirkus Reviews showers praise, ending their review by saying “[p]art coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth,” and I say that I’ve been following this ever since I included it on Top Picks all the way back in June 16th, and now it’s been nominated!

 

 

Who do you think is going to win? I know who I think is going to win…

 

 

Featured Image Via School Library Journal 

Author Fight Club: William Faulkner VS Ernest Heminway

Now in real life, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway had a tense relationship. That’s a nice way of saying they both thought the other was a garbage writer. So, in honor of Faulkner’s recent birthday celebration, we figured we would bring them together to settle their differences—by punching each other in the face.

So ignoring the broader themes of Chuck Palahniuk’s seminal work, Fight Club, we’re going to do what we do best and have two people fight each other.

Since we can’t talk about Fight Club (see rules one and two), we’re going to write about it. Specifically, we’re going to have two writers fight each other. Three rounds will determine their strength as we go through their power of description, their distinctive style, and their impact on the world at large.

Let’s fight!

 

 

1-Whose Writing Style is More Descriptive?

 

William Faulkner

Image Via Nobel Prize.org

 

Faulkner.

Actually, let’s wait up.

 

Ernest Hemingway

Ernie in his natural habitat / Image Via The Forward

 

Hemingway’s descriptions are brief and uncomplicated, yet his ability to paint such vivid imagery is astounding. Each word is a paintbrush and he puts them all together perfectly.

He’s the master of dialogue, but let’s look at his infamous short story: “Hills Like White Elephants“:

 

“What should we drink?” the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and
put it on the table.

“It’s pretty hot,” the man said.

“Let’s drink beer.”

“Dos cervezas,” the man said into the curtain.

“Big ones?” a woman asked from the doorway.

“Yes. Two big ones.”

The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glasses on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.

“They look like white elephants,” she said.

“I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer.

 

The dialogue is excellent, but I have one question for you: What do the characters look like?

It doesn’t matter what the charters looks like in this story, but we’re not talking about the power of this story, we’re using it as an example of Hemingway’s descriptive prowess.

 

A Rose for Emily

Image Via Inquiries Journal

 

Faulkner, unlike Hemingway, is known for his purple descriptions. Let’s look at A Rose for Emily: for an example, where he describes Miss Emily:

 

They rose when she entered–a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.

 

Can’t you just picture it?

 

Hemingway writing

Image Via Quartz

 

Let’s get on some even ground through. What do the main buildings in these stories look like? Here’s an earlier passage from “Hills Like White Elephants”:

 

The hills across the valley of the Ebro’ were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went on to Madrid.

 

Well, we now know that the man and the woman are “the American” and “the girl”. Besides that, we know what isn’t there, such as trees and shade, and that there is a building with a curtain made of bamboo weeds as well as a bar. But what does the building look like? Is it big? Small? White?

Again, it doesn’t matter for this story, in fact it’s reservation is its greatest strength, but we’re not judging Hemingway for his story but for his description.

 

William Faulkner writing

Image VIa William Faulkner – WordPress

 

Here’s Faulkner describing a house in A Rose for Emily:

 

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.

 

We know the shape of the house, the fact it has a garage, the lights on the street, the history of the house, we know everything and anything we’ll need to know and even some things we might not need to know. Plus, the passage is bigger. Who’s got more description?

 

William Faulkner-happy
Don’t worry be happy / Image Via Literary Hub

 

Hemingway=0

Faulkner=1

 

 

2-STYLE?

Who’s got style? Whose method of writing is more memorable, distinctive, and just all around fabulous?!

Faulkner won last round, so he’s up at bat…

 

The Sound and the Fury
Image Via AMazon

 

Faulkner’s “The Sound and The Fury” experiments with switching perspectives, changing his style from chapter to chapter from children to an outcast to an insane characters and the illiterate. Like a musician he’s an expert at arrangement, building tension and breaking while at the same time filling it with a high emotions and Gothic elements. His characters are wide ranging and diverse, from descendant of slaves to poor whites to working-class Southerners and the aristocracy from old and traditional Southern families.

He experiments with everything and anything, but sadly this comes at a loss. What is his style? Flowery prose?

 

Hemingway writing away

Image Via Wikipedia

 

A pioneer of iceberg theory, Hemingway was known for his minimalist style. The idea of it is to write as little as possible with the truth lurking beneath like an iceberg.

As a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star, while living in Paris in the early 1920s, Hemingway covered the Greco-Turkish War. His biographer Jeffrey Meyers explains that Hemingway “objectively reported only the immediate events in order to achieve a concentration and intensity of focus—a spotlight rather than a stage.” He brought this to fiction, believing that if an experience were to be distilled, then “what he made up was truer than what he remembered.”

Yes, “Hills like White Elephants” isn’t heavy on description and the dialogue doesn’t explain anything, but it doesn’t take a literary master to realize that the building with the beaded curtain is an abortion clinic. The story is about two people discussing about having an abortion.

His books are loaded with symbolism, but it all comes naturally. Why? Well, as Hemingway explained when he received the Nobel prize for literature (don’t worry fans, Faulkner got the same prize):

 

No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in… That kind of symbol sticks out like raisins in raisin bread. Raisin bread is all right, but plain bread is better… I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea, a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things. The hardest thing is to make something really true and sometimes truer than true.

 

Who’s got a distinct style? Faulkner’s certainly got style, but experimentation means people can’t pick you up at first glance. Maybe that’s a good thing, but for this competition it’s a bad thing.

Point for Hemingway!

 

Hemingway smiling

Don’t worry be happy / Image Via The Daily Beast

 

Hemingway=1

Faulkner=1

 

 

3-INFLUENCE/IMPACT

Both of these authors have made classic works, but whose influenced more authors?

 

Faulkner and Hemingway
Image VIa The Telegraph

Faulkner created revelations of life in the south, challenging perceptions of the area, but these revelations often hit on deaf ears because he makes the readers work for it. Like Joyce and Wolfe, his craft of social critique through fiction is as masterful as it is incredible.

Now I have to talk about the bad stuff.

The long and short of it is people don’t get him, so many stop reading. Even those that finished are often left in a state of confusion, as was one interview who posed Faulkner this question: “Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they’ve read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?”

Faulkner’s response? “Read it four times.”

Let’s give Faulkner credit: he certainly has more complex emotions than Hemingway’s archetypal heroes have and he certainly has a style, given his love of the Gothic South and his frequent use of stream of consciousness. He’s far more experimental than Hemingway, but that’s hard to imitate.

 

Hemingway in Africa

Image Via Encyclopedia Britannica

 

Ernest Hemingway, on the other hand, is known not only for his iceberg theory and his terse, journalistic style, but his love of traveling. His stories have us drinking in Paris, trekking through Spain, warring in Italy, fishing in Cuba, and hunting in Africa.

As the pioneer of a simple style, his influence is everywhere. Plus, in the age of social media, what do you think people are reading more: long-winded symphonies of words, or pages filled with as little words as possible?

Point for Hemingway!

 

Hemingway

Image Via National Post

 

Hemingway=2

Faulkner=1

 

 

 

Winner: Hemingway

 

 

THE MATCH

Sweat poured down his face. On his knees, hands wrapped around his gun, Ernest Hemingway leaned against a rock. He had to lean his head down forward so Faulkner wouldn’t get a shot at him. Taking a breath, heart jackhammering in his chest, Hemingway looked down at his trusty rifle. The edges were worn, the gears were light with rust, but it could still fire a shot, or at least he believed it could.

He hadn’t fired a single shot yet. Not biggie, neither had Faulkner. Hidden in his home, the door shut, the blind cautiously drawn, leaving only a inch of space where the black eye of a rifle, similarly worn and rusty, pointed out at the bolder. Hemingway could feel the black eye of Faulkner’s rifle just above him. His neck hurt, every bone in his body urged him to pick his head up and crane his neck, just for a small stretch, but he knew the moment he did Faulkner would take his shot. He had to move something, anything, so moved the only thing that was safe to move: his mouth.

“You bloody drunk!” Hemingway screamed.

His voice echoed through the wide open plains and came back to him. The echo rang out in his ear. Take the shot. Stand up and fire.

“And you’re a coward!” Faulkner screamed from inside his house.

“I am not!” Hemingway barked, still hiding behind his rock.

“Are so!”

“Stop hiding then!” Faulkner screamed. “Oh, but you won’t, will you? You would never crawl out on a limb. You have no courage and have never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

That attack on his manhood felt like a punch in his manhood. “Poor Faulkner,” Hemingway spat. “Do you really think big emotions come from big words? You think I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”

“I am lambas and ambrosia!” Faulkner was hurling fire at him, firing with great speed, “And you are bread and beer!”

“Everyone loves beer!” Hemingway shot back. “Now face me, you coward!”

But Faulkner did not. He did not speak, and Hemingway did not respond. He simply sat behind his rock, crouched there, his eyes squinting from the sun.

His eyes were narrowed. The moon shined a light upon him, like the bright lights on the stage. Should he stand? Is it worse to die a coward, or to die sober?

“I will get that liquor,” Hemingway muttered, and with that he jumped out from behind the rock, turned, and saw that the rifle wasn’t in the window.

Taking a breath, rifle aimed in front of him, Hemingway approached the house.

Coming to the door, he kicked it open. A useless gesture, the door was already unlocked.

Swinging his head from left to right, Hemingway saw on the left was Faulkner, lying on the ground.

“I’ve won,” Hemingway said, “I’ve won!” He threw his rifle to the ground, but it did not come away from his hand. It was stuck there, thanks to sweat and fear. Who cares? After all this time, fighting from dusk til dawn, he had won out.

Victorious, Hemingway marched passed Faulkner and found his liquor cabinet. Smiling wide, he opened the cabinet wide.

But all the bottles were empty. With that revelation, Hemingway cried.

 

 

 

Image Via Writers Write.co

Finalists Roundup: National Book Award Fiction Picks!

The National Book Foundation has unveiled the finalists for the National Book Awards. Listing five books each in five categories, they’ve given us some recognizable names, but it’s going to be an interesting year considering that none of the authors have taken home a National Book Award in these categories before.

For this article, we’re going to show you what made it into the ‘Fiction’ category.

 

 

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

 

Trust Exercise: A Novel by [Choi, Susan]
Image Via Amazon

 

Susan Choi brings us a novel that paints a picture of an American suburb in the early 1980s where students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in their pursuit of music, movement, Shakespeare, and their acting classes.

When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall head over heels, but their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

Among its heaps of praise, the words of Sophie Gilbert in the Atlantic ring true, writing: “The students in Choi’s story shape their identities and their imaginations around art, letting its colors seep onto their blank pages”.

 

 

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

 

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by [Fajardo-Anstine, Kali]
Image Via Amazon

A collection of short stories that uses Denver, Colorado as a backdrop, we follow three Latina women who must navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.

The first story, “Sugar Babies,” shows that ancestry and heritage cannot stay buried forever when they come to the forefront of the conversation during a land dispute.

“Any Further West” follows a sex worker and her daughter as they leave their ancestral home in southern Colorado only to find a foreign and hostile land in California.

“Tomi,” has a woman leave prison and finds herself in a city that is a shadow of the one she remembers from her childhood.

The title story, “Sabrina & Corina,” follows a Denver family that falls into a cycle of violence against women, coming together only through ritual.

Kirkus Reviews sums up the collection with these words:

Fajardo-Anstine takes aim at our country’s social injustices and ills without succumbing to pessimism. The result is a nearly perfect collection of stories that is emotionally wrenching but never without glimmers of resistance and hope.

 

 

 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy Book 1) by [James, Marlon]
Image Via Amazon

 

The first in a trilogy, this book draws from African history and mythology, following Tracker, an infamous hunter. Tasked with tracking down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy, but throughout a journey filled with shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard, he wonders who this boy and why he’s been missing for long and, above all, why are many people want to keep Tracker from finding him?

Neil Gaiman said the novel has “[a] fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made.”

 

 

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

 

The Other Americans: A Novel by [Lalami, Laila]
Image Via Amazon

 

Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, walks across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car.

Driss Geurraoui’s death brings together a diverse cast of characters:

We have his daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town she thought she left for good.

His widow Maryam, who wishes for a return to the old country.

Efrain, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from speaking up.

Jeremy, a former classmate of Nora’s and a veteran of the Iraq war.

Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets.

Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family.

…and the murdered man himself.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf from the Washington Post sums up the novels as: “Lalami gives us a searching exploration of the lives of several individuals with whom mainstream American society has a vexed relationship”.

 

 

Disappearing Earth by Julia Philips

 

Disappearing Earth: A novel by [Phillips, Julia]
Image Via Amazon

 

On the shoreline of the Kamchatka peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia, two sisters go missing. Months later the police investigation has turned up nothing.

Now we follow the lives of those connected to the crime⁠—a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother⁠—as they try to continue their lives without closure in a land where heaven and hell, from the densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra and soaring volcanoes, all exist on the same plain.

Bethanne Patrick of NPR noted in her review of the novel that:

Julia Phillips witnessed Kamchatka in transition from its Soviet-era sleepiness into post-Communist Wild West-like corruption. While she says her next novel “is not set on a volcanic Russian peninsula I need to save up for three years to get to,” readers of Disappearing Earth will be willing to follow her to any destination.

 

 

From murder mysteries to epic fantasies and from short stories to novels, it’ll be tough this year. Who do you think will win this year’s fiction categories?

 

 

Featured Image Via Entertainment Weekly

7 Books For International Lesbian Day – Because Love Is Love

To celebrate the holiday of love and awareness, we’re sharing a versatile of books featuring Lesbian characters and the adventures they must have.

These books range from the fantastically adventurous, to romantically dramatic!

 

 

#1 Perfect Rhythm by Jae

 

Perfect Rhythm (Fair Oaks Book 1) by [Jae]

 

When pop star Leontyne Blake loses the love in her love songs, a sudden family emergency brings her back to her tiny hometown of Missouri. Tending to her father, sick in the hospital, Leontyne is finally able to escape the pressure of the music industry, as well as the pressure of finding someone who loves her for her, and not her fame.

Everything changes when she meets her father’s nurse, Holly Drummond, who is not only unimpressed with Leontyne’s success, but is more interested in Leontyne as a person. Holly is a woman different from any that Leontyne has ever met, uninterested in relationships in general, and also Asexual. As the relationship between these women develops, they need to find the perfect rhythm to find something more, a love that both had given up on a long time ago.

A great read for any hopeless romantic!

 

#2 The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

 

The Stars Are Legion by [Hurley, Kameron]

 

This sci-fi epic and Hugo Award winner will take you by storm, throwing you into an all-out war, blood-battles and all, but more than the intense drama of war, this story is about our heroine’s search for truth. Zan wakes with no memory of who she is, and where she has come from. Encaptured by strangers, all women, who claim they are her family and that she is their salvation, Zan must fight her way to the truth to save a dying world.

If action is what you’re looking for, look no further than this book! With twists and turns at every corner, this book perfectly blends the sci-fi genre with action and drama that will blow you out of this world, and there’s a little romance between the protagonist and another of the fierce women of the story.

 

#3 The Price of Salt (Carol) by Patricia Highsmith

 

The Price of Salt by [Highsmith, Patricia]

 

A beloved classic romance for the modern-day, this tale follows two women, lost in the daily monotony, living untrue to themselves and their potential. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a stay at home mother in the midst of a bitter divorce, find each other, and therefore find joy and freedom that they never believed was possible before. Abandoning their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, they together build a love that they have always wanted. However, this is not a fairy tale romance where all it takes is two people falling in love to reach the happy ending, because of Carol’s obligations as a mother, she is forced to choose between her love for Therese and her beloved child.

True love never comes easy in the real world, and this emotional roller-coaster of a novel shows that tenfold.

 

 

#4 The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie  

 

The Abyss Surrounds Us by [Skrutskie, Emily]

 

If that last book was a little too real for you, here’s some fantasy to escape the soul-crushing that is reality.

Combining monsters and pirates together this book follows Cassandra Leung, a trainee in a family of Recokners, trainers of genetically engineered sea monsters to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. When the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water. With plans to make the Sea her own, the Pirate queen orders Cas to train a monster pup to push her plans into action. Torn by her desire to uphold her family’s noble cause and her survival as a captive, Cassandra must choose wisely to live the Pirate life.

 

#5 My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Kabi Nagata 

 

My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by [Nagata, Kabi]

 

Intensely personal, this graphic novel is Kabi Nagata’s revealing story, her struggles with depression and sexuality as a young woman. With charming and provocative illustrations, Nagata leaves nothing censored. The true and difficult reality of struggling with mental health and coming to terms with your sexuality is perfectly illustrated, both literally and figuratively, in this book. For any reader of this book, how real and relatable the story is written is moving.

 

#6 Nevada by Imogen Binnie

 

 

Maria Griffiths, a young trans woman, takes a life-changing journey away from her life in New York City after she discovers that her girlfriend has been lying to her. With her life as she has known it forever changed, Maria sets off to escape the painful lies that have been revealed, but with the struggles that trans people face looming over her head, her ventures are much harder than she wishes. Joined by another trans woman on her life journey, they must find their way in the world.

 

 

#7 We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

 

We Are Okay by [LaCour, Nina]

 

Having run from her old life, Marin has kept many secrets about her final moments before she left her family and old friends behind. With tragedy and grief from her past still tormenting her for years since she left, the past finally comes back to haunt her when her best friend Mabel pays a visit to Marin’s lonely apartment. The truth must finally come out, and Marin must face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

 

Images via Amazon

 

 

 

Featured Images via Amazon

5 Books You Can’t Just Can’t Listen To

You read the title, you know what this article is about. With all the hoopla over the last hundred or so years of us asking the same few questions (Will the book die out? Is the book dead?) over and over again, I’ve decided to do something a little more productive than just roll my eyes.

I’ve decided to give you five great books that you just can’t listen to. Yes, you may be able to find some actor with the soothing chirp of Michael Caine or the deep drawl of Morgan Freeman, but simply listening isn’t going to give you the full experience. For these books, you have to read them yourself.

I think you get the idea.

Now for this list I’ve discounted Mad Libs, coloring books, pop up books, or any comic book/graphic novels/manga. None of those will be appearing on this list. You’re old enough to know that you can’t just hear the soothing voice of a Stephen Fry while you’re running on the treadmill to get the full picture—you actually have to open up the comic book and read it. There’s no use of me reiterating that for the hundredth time.

What’ll be on this list are books. Books with spines and pages and words. Ready?

 

 

5. Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

 

Hopscotch: A Novel (Pantheon Modern Writers Series) by [Cortazar, Julio]
Image Via Amazon

Written in Paris, Hopscotch was published in Spanish in 1963 and in English in 1966. Okay, so we’ve got Horacio Oliveira, an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga. Everything is going well until a child dies and La Maga disappears off the face of the planet. Not sure what to do, Oliveira returns to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum.

Easy, right?

 

Rayuela

The Spanish Version / Image Via Wikipedia

 

Oh yeah, ninety-nine chapters are expendable. You read that right, expendable. Meaning they are useless, that they can be cut out of the book with no loss to the story, and with a book that’s 155 chapters in total, that means that about 63.87% of the book can be thrown out in the trash.

Why didn’t the editor do his/her job? I hear you ask, and the answer is why this book made this list.

See there are a couple of ways to read this book. You can read it from chapter one to chapter fifty six, or you can “hopscotch” throughout the book using the “Table of Instructions”. Or you can go completely random.

 

Julio Cortazar

Image Via AZ Quotes

 

Reading the book in order means that ninety-nine expendable chapters will make little to no sense. They’re nothing more than random musings.

Reading them using the “Table of Instructions” means that some of these expendable chapters can be revelations. See, the entire book is written in an episodic, snapshot manner. A real slice of lie type story. These expendable chapters, when you put them in order, can add information about the characters, such as giving more information about this guy named Morelli who pops up for a small cameo in the novel. At first, he’s random. Diving deep, we realize what he means.

Point is, these “expendable” chapters at first seem like random musings, but upon closer inspection some of these ‘musings’ are actually answers in disguise.

 

Image result for Julio Cortazar
Image Via La tinta

Wait! I hear you say, can’t we just have two audio versions: One where a narrator goes through the book linearly and one where he “hopscotches” around using the “Table of Instructions”.

Well, assuming money is no obstacle, yes, but you forget about the third way to read this book: figure it out yourself.

Remember how I said reading the table means that only *some* of the expendable chapters make sense? That’s where making it up as you go along comes. Yes, that part where I said “you can go completely random” wasn’t a joke. In fact, Cortázar himself gives the reader the option of choosing a unique path through the narrative.

The book is a puzzle. It’s a choose your own adventure where you are left on your own devise to figure out the timeline between all these chapters. It won’t be easy, given that the narratives techniques switch from first person and third person to stream-of-consciousness and traditional spelling and grammatical rules are often bent or even outright broken, but this isn’t your typical book.

It’s a book you can’t just simply listen it.

 

4. Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix

 

Invisible Monsters Remix by [Palahniuk, Chuck]
Image Via Amazon

Do you like Chuck Palahniuk? He wrote Fight Club, and I love Fight Club. I can’t stop talking about Fight Club. Did you know that Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, thinks Fight Club is better than Fight Club?

Chuck Palahniuk also wrote Invisible Monsters, a novel about a fashion model who has everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend, but loses it all from when a sudden freeway “accident” leaves her disfigured and unable to speak. She becomes an ‘invisible monster,’ but then Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, walks into her life and teaches her that reinventing yourself means erasing your past and making up something better.

It’s a great book, and I wish I could talk about it, but I won’t. Instead I’ll talk about what Palahniuk deems the ‘director’s cut’ called Invisible Monsters Remix.

 

Invisible Monsters Remix

Image Via Amazon

 

This remix chops up the original story, presenting it in short scenes which end with a request to skip to another page. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure novel in which readers must follows the directions and flip through the book a la Hopscotch, but this book takes it one step beyond.

Yes, you can read the book linearly, yes you can flip around and, as per the introduction “jump to Chapter Forty-one,” or you could go completely random, but Palahniuk takes it one step beyond.

For a start, you can take out a pen and mark up the book. I’m serious. See, Palahniuk has added  new chapters interspersed throughout the book and you can get lost flipping through the book. To solve this, the author himself encourages you, dear reader, to mark each page with an ‘x’ so when you get to the end (which is in the middle) you can look back to see if you’ve missed any pages.

You will miss pages. About three three chapters worth, in fact.

Plus, unlike Hopscotch, Palahinuk has this:

 

This is real

Image Via Danielshankcruz.files.wordpress

 

There’s nothing like two sequences where the pages that are printed backwards so you gotta use a mirror to read them. Wouldn’t you agree that the experience be less if you just listened to someone reading the pages normally?

 

3. S by Doug Dorst and J. J. Abrams

 

 

Image Via Amazon

 

The book is called S, but not really. It’s actually called Ship of Theseus, but not really. Let me explain.

Ship of Theseus was written by an elusive author named V. M. Straka and published in 1949.

S was written by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams, and they wrote three stories that are packaged into one.

The core story is Ship of Theseus by V. M. Straka, published in 1949, which is about an amnesiac, known only as S., who’s trying to figure out who he really is after waking up in a strange city who becomes trapped in a conflict between a violent, oppressive industrialist and his rebellious workers.

The book has footnotes describing how the author, V. M. Straka, was a secretive anarchist who might have written this book as an allegory of a real conflict and assassination conspiracy of which he was a part. No one knows who Straka is and supposedly he is dead, but the book’s editor, F. X. Caldeira, not only wrote the introduction but also included various footnotes throughout the book that seem to contain coded messages in an attempt to contact Straka.

 

S-Inside The Book

Image Via Pinterest

 

Now the book itself is a mock-up of a high school library’s check-out history of the book, spanning the years 1957 to 2000. A grad student named Eric has been working on his own theory of who Straka was, writing his notes in the margins. Jen, an undergrad student who works at the college library, writes out her responses in the margins, creating a conversation as they trade the book back and forth, blossoming into a romance as soon as they begin to encounter some danger by people who don’t want the truth to be known.

 

S-Everything Inside

Everything The Book Comes With / Image Via Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling

 

One book, three stories.

 

 

2.  The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

 

The Raw Shark Texts by [Hall, Steven]

Image Via AMazon

 

Do you like pictures? Do you like words? How about pictures made out of words? Well there’s a word for that and it’s calligrams and this book is choc-full of them. Moving text, text that forms pictures, giant texts to emphasize words, this book has it.

Let’s take a step back.

A man named Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house he doesn’t recognize, unable to remember anything of his life. A note instructs him to call a Dr. Randle, who informs him he’s had another episode of memory loss.

Apparently this has been happening for the last two years, but Eric isn’t too sure. He decides to learn the truth, escaping the predatory forces that threaten to consume him.

Postmodern magic rituals, conceptual predators swimming the abstract depths of consciousness, this psychological odyssey is a brilliant story by its own, but Hall takes one step beyond.

The text loops and swerves, putting the reader in Hall’s mindset.

 

The Raw Shark Texts-Swerving Words

Image Via Goodreads

 

It even gives us an image of what Hall sees with images like this:

 

The Raw Shark Texts-Eye

Image Via Than Words

 

Try have someone reading that text out loud! Hall knows that simply saying “an eye appeared” wouldn’t be as powerful as showing us an eye made up of words, making our skin crawl as we feel multiple eyes staring right as us through the very page itself.

But Hall then doesn’t just make the text see, he gives it a face.

 

The Raw Shark Texts-Shark

Image Via Pinterest

 

A picture is worth a thousand words, and these pictures are made of words

 

1. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

 

Image Via Amazon

 

This book is 709 pages and I read it over the courage of two days. My eyes could not be peeled away. I was lying on the bathroom floor in a hotel at midnight, my cousin’s wedding in eight hours, and I refused to close the book. My brother was asleep in the next room so I couldn’t turn on the light, so I went in the bathroom and lay across the floor and read this book until I was finished.

My cousin’s wedding is a blur, but this book isn’t.

House of Leaves is about a house that is about a little less than an inch bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Let’s back up. We start off with a first-person narrative by Johnny Truant, a Los Angeles tattoo parlour employee and professed unreliable narrator. Looking for an apartment, Traunt finds out about the meant of the recently deceased Zampanò, a blind, elderly man.

Curious, Traunt goes to the apartment and finds that the blind man was writing a book. Yes, the blind man was writing a book. The book is an academic study of a documentary film called The Navidson Record, even though, according to Traunt, there’s no evidence that the film or its subjects ever existed, even though Zampanò quotes the likes of famous figures from Stephen King to Stanley Kubrick and Anne Rice.

 

Mark Z Danielewski

Image Via KCRW

 

From here, Traunt’s story is told through increasingly long footnotes sprinkled into The Navidson Record, which is about a documentarian who moves into a house with his family and realizes that their house is bigger on the inside than the outside.

What’s more, the house seems to be expanding while the outside stays the same. Plus, a dark, cold hallway opens in an exterior living room wall that should project outside into their yard, but does not. It’s also impossible to shine a light in this hallway and, furthermore, seems to be shifting and growing.

The book utilizes different fonts to distinguish characters. These are: Times New Roman (Zampanò), Courier (Johnny), Bookman (The Editors), and Dante (Johnny’s mother).

It also uses color changes.

 

A Red Passage from 'House of Leaves'

Image Via Fox Burrow Magazine

 

The word “house” is colored blue (gray for non-color editions of the book and light gray for red editions.

The word Minotaur and all struck passages are colored red.

References to Johnny’s mother are colored purple.

This is just the basic stuff right here.

 

House of Leaves

Image VIa Goodreads

 

A prime example of ergodic literature, the book contains copious footnotes, many of which contain footnotes themselves…

 

Image VIa Ergodic Design

 

…while other pages contain only a few words or lines of text…

 

House of Leaves

Image Via Goodreads

 

…some of the text is arranged to mirror the events in the story or a character’s mind…

 

Image result for House of Leaves danielewski footnotes
Image Via The Reader’s Room

 

There are sections where there were just a few words on the page while a chase was happening so you sped through the pages like you were running through the halls and there are sections where the dialogue from people on top of a staircase was high on the page while speech from the characters down below was on the bottom of the page.

 

House of Leaves

Image Via Cornerfolds

 

Housse of Leaves
Image Via Goodreads

 

Give me audiobook of that! You can’t, because to read this book, to read all these books, you have to do more than skim through the pages, you have to interact with them. You have to rip them apart, mark them up, twist them and turn them.

Call these big five art, call these big five artsy, call these big five pretentious, I call them the reason why “The book is dead” question makes my eyes roll into the back of my head.

 

 

 

Featured Images Via Amazon