Reading Challenge Accepted

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Part of my ritual for starting a new year is joining the Goodreads Reading Challenge. In years past, I’ve set my goal between 30 and 35 books. 2017 ended up being the year I couldn’t read enough and I topped out at 48 books, (well above my goal of 35).

What can I say? It was a good year of reading! In the spirit of celebrating a goal reached and to perhaps inspire readers to join this year’s challenge, these are my Top 5 favorite books from last year. By all means, add them to your list!

  1. Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

Wrought with both brutal and tender honesty, this is Green’s best novel to date. This is not just another YA novel as the emotions are too real and too relatable to be just for teens. This is for anyone who has ever felt trapped or knows the pain of loss.

2. Crazy Rich Asians Series – Kevin Kwan

Kwan’s satire slices right into an utterly preposterous world that is far removed from the reality where most of us reside, which makes it all the more irresistible and hilarious. In many ways it’s reminiscent of Wuthering Heights; a world filled with detestable characters that bring disaster upon themselves and you just can’t look away. Kwan, however, turns the detestable into a hysterical spectacle that perfectly blends dry British humor with spot on commentary of Chinese culture. This combination is particularly strong in Kwan’s sometimes snarky, but brilliant footnotes. A great beach read, while also inviting deeper contemplation of social norms and class society.

3. Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare

One of the things that always amazes me about Cassandra Clare’s work is her ability to make the Shadow World mirror the real world. In Lord of Shadows, the arrival of The Cohort and it’s desire to return Shadowhunters to a position of power at the expense of Downworlders has so many parallels to our world today, I’m eternally grateful that so many young people will be reading it, (and will hopefully take it’s message to heart).

4. Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Albertalli offers up a fun yet socially conscious exploration of the LGBTQ youth experience. She touches the entire spectrum from fear, acceptance, bullying, self-doubt, and ultimately love. Love, of course, being the common denominator that pulls us all together.

5. We Are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson

While alien abduction and saving the world seem to be the central plot line, this is really an exploration of mental illness on a number of different levels. References to depression, anger issues, Alzheimers, cutting, grief, and suicide are brutally honest and dig into the underbelly of a reality that is often ignored. At the same time, this is a story about finding self-acceptance, which is beautifully aimed at the LGBTQ community, but also reaches far beyond to anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t belong.

I read a lot of YA and I know that raises some eyebrows. However, they are well worth reading no matter where you fall in the age spectrum. The stories are powerful, the characters are compelling, and the insight is deeper than you think.  Aside from long held admiration of the genre, I happen to write YA as well!

My full reviews for these books are on Goodreads. Please friend me and lets embark on a reading adventure in 2018 together! Search for me by my name or just click on the reading challenge button on my sidebar.

For 2018, I’m joining the Goodreads Reading Challenge with a goal of 40 books. That’s the highest goal I’ve ever set and it’s a little scary! But, I’m off to a good start – I’m already one book ahead of schedule. I started reading the Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin and it is amazing. I read the first two in under a week. Add it to your list!

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Happy Reading! 🙂

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c.b.w. 2018