As children, most of us loved ‘choose your own adventure’ stories—until our lives became one! These books were always as simple as they were complicated, encouraging readers to make choices that result in either positive or negative outcomes. Naturally, this is a lot more fun when these choices don’t result in real consequences (say, unemployment or just a bad haircut) and instead, force readers to start over from the beginning. The fun only ends when you work your way to the correct ending… and if your choices are as bad as mine, that could take any number of hours.
Image Via Medium
Since the original series ran between 1979 and 1998, these interactive sci-fi and murder mystery stories may not be as familiar to Gen-Z and the youngest Millennials. Still, the ‘choose your own adventure’ format resurfaces every few years with trending topics: Max Brallier released a zombie edition, Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?, back when everyone thought zombies were about to be the next vampires. (In all fairness, they’re both dead. And neither would actually be that sexy.) Humor writer Dana Schwartz, the brains behind the Guy In Your MFA parody Twitter account, also used this format for her recent memoir, Choose Your Own Disaster. And, of course, Black Mirror‘s ‘Bandersnatch‘ episode is a recent example.
Good news: ‘choose your own adventure’ is about to be everywhere—and not just in the existential sense.
choose your own misery is a choose your own adventure series for adults, featuring the limitless horrors of dating and the office Image Via thrift books
Amazon Alexa recently introduced a new feature through Audible: Choose Your Own Adventure. The Amazon and Audible partnership uses Audible’s voice actors and Amazon’s accessibility to walk readers through two classic adventures (The Abominable Snowman and Journey Under the Sea) from the comfort of their own homes. Together, the books come with sixty-five possible endings to distract you for hours from all the choices your real life is waiting for you to make.
To start your adventure, just tell your Alexa-enabled device, “Alexa, open Choose Your Own Adventure from Audible!”
2019 promises to be a year of diverse, compelling, and topical books across all genres. Since 2018 promised to be a disaster and then pretty much followed through, this seems a bit more optimistic. While this isn’t a definitive list of every quality book to be released in 2019—which would probably take until 2019 to finish reading—it’s a sampling of both YA and adult titles to excite you month by month. So if your life plan for 2019 is less than certain, the least you can do is plan out your year in reading.
Maid by Stephanie Land
Stephanie Land writes: “my daughter learned how to walk in a homeless shelter.” As the gap widens between America’s wealthy and its underclass, Land’s work as a maid isn’t a door between these two worlds – instead, it’s only a window. The more Land struggles as an underpaid single mother, the more she witnesses the dark truth of what it takes to survive in a rigidly stratified society.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali is leaving soon: Caltech and her dream of becoming an engineer wait at the end of a few a few short months… which seem to get longer and longer. Although she tries to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, it’s hard not to react when they favor her brother and criticize her choice in clothing. It’s harder to hide her girlfriend. Swept off to Bandgladesh in a whirlwind of cultural panic, Rukshana realizes that she will have to fight for her love. But will she also have to lose everything?
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track 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. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories–equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch’s house in “Hansel and Gretel” to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can–beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.
In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton
After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both.
Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
This dazzling collection interrogates the fractures, collisions and glorious new alloys of what it means to be a Chinese millennial. Xuan Juliana Wang has the dark soul of an old poet’s inkwell, the deep knowing of an ancient remedy, and linguistic incandescence of a megacity skyline.
From a crowded apartment on Mott Street, where an immigrant family raises its first real Americans, to a pair of divers at the Beijing Olympics poised at the edge of success and self-discovery, Wang’s unforgettable characters – with their unusual careers, unconventional sex lives and fantastical technologies – share the bold hope that, no matter where they’ve come from, their lives too can be extraordinary.
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Stirling
Hannah’s a witch. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire.
Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
One morning, Jessa-Lynn Morton walks into the family taxidermy shop to find that her father has committed suicide, right there on one of the metal tables. Shocked and grieving, Jessa steps up to manage the business, while the rest of the Morton family crumbles.
Jessa struggles to salvage the failing taxidermy shop, seeking out less-than-legal ways of generating income, all the while clashing with her mother and brother. As their mother’s art escalates to include a figure of her dead husband and a stuffed buffalo in an uncomfortably sexual pose, Jessa must find a way to restore the Morton clan’s delicate balance, and that means first learning who these people truly are, and ultimately how she fits alongside them all.
The Grief Keeper by Alex Villasante
Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.
But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, a grotesque chamber of horrors. Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.”
Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone
Hard-charging and irrepressible eighteen-year-old Amelia Linehan could see a roller derby opponent a mile away. They don’t call her Rolldemort for nothing! What she couldn’t see coming, however, was the unexpected flare-up of a rare liver disorder she was born with. But now it’s the only thing she—and everyone around her—can think about.
With no guarantee of a viable organ transplant, everything Amelia’s been sure of—like her college plans, the mural she’d been commissioned to paint, or the possibility of one day falling in love—has become a huge question mark, threatening to drag her down into a sea of what-ifs she’s desperate to avoid.
Doxology by Nell Zink
Pam, Daniel, and Joe might be the worst punk band on the Lower East Side. Struggling to scrape together enough cash and musical talent to make it, they are waylaid by surprising arrivals—a daughter for Pam and Daniel, a solo hit single for Joe. As the ‘90s wane, the three friends share in one another’s successes, working together to elevate Joe’s superstardom and raise baby Flora.
On September 11, 2001, the city’s unfathomable devastation coincides with a shattering personal loss for the trio. In the aftermath, Flora comes of age, navigating a charged political landscape and discovering a love of the natural world.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The wait is over.
And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.
When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her – freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Author Camryn Garrett | Image Via Vocally.com
Simone Garcia-Hampton is a black teen born HIV-Positive. Raised by loving queer parents who assure her that her diagnosis doesn’t define her, Simone must navigate a whole new world of fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love—and lust—for the first time.
No Mercy by Martina Cole
The brand new novel from Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller and ‘undisputed queen of crime writing’ (Guardian) Martina Cole. The biggest selling female crime writer in the UK, Martina’s unique and powerful novels have gripped their readers for twenty-five years, and include Dangerous Lady, The Take and Damaged.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The new series centers on Alex Stern, a 20-year-old California high school dropout with a criminal past who is mysteriously offered a second chance as a Yale University freshman. Ninth House, the first book, follows Stern’s freshman year, where she is charged with monitoring Yale’s secret societies, who engage in sinister occult activities.
The Devil in Paradise by James L Haley
The gripping naval saga by award-winning historian James L. Haley moves to a tropical setting as Captain Bliven Putnam takes on pirates in the Phillipines and diplomatic relations in Hawaii.
It’s 1818 and Bliven Putnam is now a captain in the American Navy. Doing battle with the deadly pirate Jean Lafitte, off the coast of Texas, Putnam has come into his own as a leader. But he’s plagued by thoughts of home, where his wife, Clarity, is managing the family farm, the fortune, and an extenstive building project. When their long-planned reunion is cut short by a new assignment, Clarity at last puts her foot down. If she can’t keep Putnam with her, then she’ll just have to go with him.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a strange book hidden in the library stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
Shooting Cole Stone by SC Megale
Author S.C. Megale Image Via Wikipedia.org
Wednesday Books has bought Shooting Cole Stone, S.C. Megale’s #ownvoices debut YA novel. The book features irreverent Maeve, who has Muscular Dystrophy and plans to become an Oscar-winning film director, if only she can graduate high school and get some action with her leading man first. Publication is projected for winter 2019.
Featured Image Via Poisonedpen.com | Images and book blurbs via Goodreads.com
Tragedy plus time apparently equals literature. As far as years go, 2017-2018 has been an intense one. These authors have responded with wit, creativity, and some impressively bizarre concepts that comment upon both the new and timeless topography of our psychological landscapes. Here are 5 acclaimed short story collections as weird, wild, and jarringly human as the past year has been.
A timely commentary on social media, art, and interpersonal relationships, this multimedia collection from some of the most famous Instagram poets (includingNikita Gilland Trista Mateer) insightfully tackles both the isolation and accessibility that the Internet can provide. The collection maintains its commitment to accessibility by incorporating the work of established writers (like Amanda Lovelace, author of The Princess Saves Herself in This One) with the work of up-and-coming contributors (likeSara Bond). Even the creation of [Dis]connectedfollows an inventive format: each writer contributed three poems and then assigned poems to their fellow writers. Each contributor then wrote a short story based on one of their assigned poems. The result? A vivid and unique exploration of love and loneliness.
The eccentric genius archetype—the exaggerated trope of a person who would just as likely disassemble their own household appliances for fun as write a novel—has met its match in Helen DeWitt. A mathematician and linguist (by the way, we’re talking fourteen languages), DeWitt’s hit debut, The Last Samurai, is only one of three works she’s published in the last twenty years, thanks to her distaste for the publishing industry. (Her second novel, Lightning Rods, is a brilliant, weird, and brilliantly weird satire on American capitalism.) Her third work, collection Some Trick, uses the “iron logic of a crazy person” to chip at the barrier between the private intellectual world of the individual and the social machinery of capitalism.
Books that fall under the category of genre fiction (including fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, and many more) have no restrictions but the limits of the imagination. These five authors decided to take that as a challenge, and it worked out pretty damn well for them.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
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Teens hide in a bunker from the giant mutant grasshoppers destroying Iowa. In Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle, the end of the world is weirder than anyone ever could have imagined it. The giant grasshoppers destroying Iowa mostly want what Smith’s protagonist wants: to mate and destroy. Smith’s bisexual protagonist finds himself in the apocalypse bunker of a mysterious and wealthy town legend with only his girlfriend and his gay best friend- who has a crush on him. With chapter titles like “The Right Kind of Cigarette to Smoke Before You Kill Something,” Smith’s novel is full of wit and eccentricity that give its serious moments all the more impact.
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Image via Amazon.com
Aliens regularly abduct a teenager, giving him the choice to press a button which will stop the scheduled end of the world. You know Shaun David Hutchinson’s We Are the Ants is one seriously bizarre story when alien abductions aren’t the strangest thing in it. Hutchinson’s world is going to end, and only one bullied teenager can stop it with the press of a button. With his mom’s underemployment, his brother’s immaturity, his sometimes-hookup’s abuse, and his grandmother’s worsening dementia, the choice seems to be a resounding HELL NO. But as the story proceeds, it becomes less and less clear whether this is a story about a boy who doesn’t want to save the world or a story about a boy who might want to save himself.
Rules for Werewolves by Kirk Lynn
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A group of misfits who may or may not turn into werewolves search local driveways for a specific car. Kirk Lynn’s Rules for Werewolves might not be about werewolves at all. This work of literary fiction explores what it means to be wild as it follows a gang of self-described werewolves, a close-knit gaggle of homeless young people running away from their troubled circumstances. As they search for the car of a man who has wronged them (with the intention of getting their dubiously-deserved revenge), it becomes difficult to discern whether their transformations are literal or figurative. Whether or not they are what they call themselves, the story culminates in something truly animal.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Image Via Target
The grown-up Scooby Gang, now alcoholics and felons, return to the site of their childhood trauma to solve one last mystery. Edgar Cantero’sMeddling Kids mixes childhood nostalgia with Lovecraftian horror to produce this hilarious nightmare of a novel. A group of teen sleuths and a dog famously solved mysteries in their hometown until one deadly case that left them clinically traumatized. Now they’re back and worse off than ever to catch the crook who may be a lot scarier than just a man in a mask. Campy and hilarious, this novel is filled with haunted houses, lake monsters, underground caves, elaborate traps, and characters’ apparently limitless bad decisions. All these elements combine to make this story fresh yet familiar- all the while keeping it weird and wacky.
Image via Amazon.com
A college-age superfan of a children’s book series finds out that the magical realm from his favorite story is real- but spectacularly more messed up than it sounded. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians centers on gifted student-slash-magician Quentin Coldwater, who’s obsessed with the secrets behind the high fantasy series he adored as a child. But those books definitely didn’t include indifferent gods and anthropomorphic bears taking shots of Peach Schapps- and the world Quentin discovers definitely does. Quentin and his cynical, hard-partying friends fight for their lives, explore the world and themselves, and occasionally make out as Grossman expertly juxtaposes the innocence of childhood with the absurdities and hard edges of the real world.
As strange as these books may sound, the authors’ risk-taking paid off. You won’t have read anything like them.