Book Gift Guide – Blogmas Day 12

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The thing is, I love books! For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed stories and as I got older, I fell in love with the way an author can create a whole world with their words. The past year, I’ve had sort of a love-hate relationship with reading though, because I just haven’t been able to concentrate and that really frustrates me. Apparently that’s a pretty common sympton of depression and it’s also one of the last things that will get better, but it’s still really annoying and I’ve been feeling kind of helpless. Books have always been my escape when real life got hard, so not having that feels really shitty. But in the past month or so, I’ve been trying to train myself, ’cause my concentration won’t get better on its own. And I’ve slowly been falling back in love with reading…

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These books have been a huge part of me enjoying to read again. I started by reading books I knew already (Hello, Harry Potter!), but it has been a great year for literature. I’m not sure if all of these were released this year, but they are ones I’ve discovered in the past few months.

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The way I imagine this post going is I’ll briefly tell you what the book is about and what drew me to it and hopefully you’ll find a book that you want to ask for for christmas or that someone you know would love.

I also have to include one book that I don’t have a picture of, because I lent it to a friend (yep, it’s that good), but it wouldn’t be right to ignore it. The book is called Autumn and it’s by Ali Smith. (Get it here.) First of all, the cover is gorgeous and fits the title perfectly. It’s not an action-packed book, but Smith tells the story in such a beautiful way and the characters are really complex and realistic, flaws and all. So if you like reading books that portray a feeling instead of a gripping plot, this one is for you. Personally I think it’s the best book I’ve read in a really long time. (Although I haven’t read all of these yet…)

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The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Blurb: What if society wasn’t fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? This thought sets Jon Ronson on an utterly compelling adventure into the world of madness.
Along the way, Jon meets psychopaths, those whose lives have been touched by madness and those whose job it is to diagnose it, including the influential psychologist who developed the Psychopath Test, from whom Jon learns the art of psychopath-spotting. A skill which seemingly reveals that madness could indeed be at the heart of everything…

I was immediately drawn to this book when I randomly found it in the mental health aisle of a bookstore. I’d been browsing there, because as I’ve experienced these past few years, the mind is a very powerful thing and I think it’s absolutely fascinating what the brain can do. I’m also a huge sucker for self-help books, so I was actually looking for one of those, but this one immediately drew me in, because it deals with the topic in a comical way. Books about mental illness are usually pretty depressing (no pun intended), so this one seemed like a breath of fresh air. So if you’re interested in how ill minds work and loved Criminal Minds, but don’t want to deal with a serious book, this is the one for you.

Buy it here.

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Aristotle and Dante  Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Blurb: Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in peotry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself. But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only believing in each other – and the power of their friendship – can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

First of all, don’t be intimidated by the title, the book is not about dead philosophers, eventhough it is pretty philosophical. Mostly though, it’s about being true to yourself, about friendship, love and sexuality.

Publishers Weekly wrote: A tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love – whether romantic or familial – should be open, free, and without shame.

Now if that doesn’t sell this book, I don’t know what will. I picked up this book, because this correlates exactly with my personal beliefs and I think it’s a beautiful message. The only thing I have to add is that this is gorgeously written and Sáenz seems to live with his characters, merely describing their experiences while letting them live their lives.

Get your copy here.

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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Blurb: Sixteen year old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

The reason I picked up this book is because I liked John Green’s style of writing in The Fault in Our Stars. The reason I  bought the book though is the second paragraph of that blurb. With those two sentences, Green has described perfectly how I’ve been feeling all my life. I am one of those people who constantly overthinks things and I get lost in thought-spirals quite a lot. Being a perfectionist and at the same time trying to be what everyone needs is exhausting and I’m really looking forward to reading how Aza deals with this, because I’m still struggling. I haven’t read this yet, but I’m very excited to get to know these characters!

Interested? Get it here.

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Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Blurb: Lois Clary is a software programmer at General Dexterity, a robotics company with typical San Franciscan world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders, and savors, dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter brought from afar, used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her – feed it daily, play it music, and please: learn to bake with it.
Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmers market. A whole new world opens up.
When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with little appetite for new members. Then an alternative emerges: a secret market, literally underground, that aims to fuse food and technology. It might be perfect for the programmer-turned-baker. But who are these people, exactly? And who is the mysterious Mr. Marrow presiding over it all?

I’m aware that the synopsis of this book sounds very strange. An entire book just about bread? And on the surface it is just that. But I’ve never read a book like this, it’s so quirky and incredibly funny. You should read this book if you’re trying to find yourself as well as if you just want an easy funny book to read. It’s a very positive book and ranks somewhere between futuristic technology tale and magical realism. The characters are incredibly deep and thought-out, but also quite surprising.
I will definitely be checking out Sloan’s first book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, because I fell in love with the way his mind works.

Check it out here.

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Blurb: February 1862. With the Civil War less than one year old, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story that breaks free of its realistic framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm, deploying a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices – living and dead, historical and invented – to ask a timeless question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

I found this book, because it won the Man Booker Prize in 2017, which is always a good sign. Before starting this, I looked up what Bardo is, because I’d never heard that word before. The Bardo is a sort of in-between place in Tibetan Buddhism, an afterlife between two states of being. That is important to know, because many of the characters in this book are with Willie in the afterlife. I have never read a story that was told like this. Saunders uses countless voices telling us little snippets that as a whole form this story. Eventhough there isn’t really a story. There is no character development. So if that is what you’re looking for, you probably won’t like this book. I love books like this. Ask anyone who knows me: my favourite books are those where nothing really happens. I love getting engrossed in the way an author portrays things, I don’t need well-rounded characters.

I think this book is amazing, but you do need to keep an open mind and keep with the writing style. It only took me a few pages to get into the story though and for me the lack of plot or relatable characters doesn’t diminish the emotion this book portrays.

Get the book.

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Blurb: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the workingmen who founded this town. And that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior icehockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made, and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.
Beartown explores the hopes that bring a community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

This book is just about the polar opposite of  Lincoln in the Bardo, at least in the sense that it features many beautifully crafted characters and their relationships are described in depth. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and so gripping you might want to read it over the holidays when you don’t have to go to work. I’m definitely not a sports fan and have no clue about ice-hockey, but that doesn’t matter. There are A LOT of characters, so it’s a bit confusing at first, but after a while you’ll be completely engrossed in this town. This is one of those books that stay with you!

Find this book here.

Wow, thank you so much for bearing with me on this, if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a medal! I hope you found a new book to love and if you have any recommendations, please let me know!

Love, H.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. The only book on here that I read myself is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I absolutely loved it. I don’t have OCD or any kind of other mental illness, so it was definitely an interesting read for me. I know others recognized a big deal of themselves in this book – so that only makes me a fan of this book even more.
    I hope you enjoy it as well! 🙂

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    1. Wow, thank you for telling me about your experience reading this book. I love hearing about other peoples’ view on books and I’m so excited to read this! What other books have you read recently?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I finished Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh the day before yesterday and I’ll be finishing We Are Okay by Nina Lacour today. I love switching between fantasy and contemporary / romance. 🙂 Although I think my next read will the The Gentleman’s Guide! I’ve heard so much about that book; it’s time I picked it up myself.

        Like

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