In this world, there are countless books of countless genres telling countless stories. Some have strong familial themes, others have speculative insights to the past or future, while still others are written simply to entertain. The beauty that lies in this plethora of diverse books is often their collective ability to shed light on perspectives that we may not be able to experience otherwise.
However, one problem many book lovers come to face is that we often don’t think to look for something outside of our favorite genres. After all, if I know I like dragons, why should I spend extra time and effort to try to find a book without dragons, with only hope that I’d enjoy it? Staying within our limits make us feel secure. Readers often find certainty in one specific genre or in one specific author.
While that, by itself, is all and well, these self-imposed limits prevent us from finding others gems that may exist just a genre over. It’s important to try new things and dive into unmarked territory.
So for this Monday, here are 7 books from 6 different genres that’ll help you expand your horizons!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One is set in the year 2044, when the real world is ugly and the virtual one beautiful. After all, why live in humanity’s wasteland when there’s OASIS, an MMORPG that you can actually live in? With the full-immersion system, anything from attending public school to visiting a cyberpunk-themed planet after work is possible within OASIS.
When James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, dies, he leaves behind a challenge: Unlock the three gates, and inherit OASIS. This spurs on a worldwide treasure hunt as everyone and their grandmas vie for the single game that has become an integral part of everyday life, no matter who you are or where you’re from. This includes Wade Watts, an unlikely contender in the ultimate race equipped with nothing by videogame geekery and ’80s trivia. But what will happen when he becomes the first one to find the Copper Key and leads the race against the world?
Ready Player One‘s strength is in its world-building. Ernest Cline’s vision for the future is described with an incredible amount of detail, and the possibilities OASIS open up allow for a great range of setting and conflict. It’s a book as thought-out as The Martian and perhaps even more geek-compatible.
A movie for Ready Player One is set to come out in 2018, directed by Steven Spielberg!
Vengeance Road by Eric Bowman
Set in the Old West, the story of Vengeance Road follows Kate Thompson, a girl who lost her father for another man’s greed for gold. Vowing to bring vengeance on her father’s killers, she sets out into the dust and sun wearing boy’s disguise and carrying a ruthless attitude that, when paired with a good rifle, would send smart men running and dimmer ones into the next life.
It’s gritty and unapologetic of the blood shed by the protagonists. With saloons and shoot-outs as well as a heroine who will kill without remorse to achieve her goal, Vengeance Road is intense and exciting, and perfectly captures the atmospheric qualities of the classic Western.
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…
The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
(Synopsis from Goodreads. Read more about it here.)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys is a paranormal tale like one you’ve never read before. There are no vampires, no werewolves, no aliens existing under the guise of an alien. There are, however, psychics, ghost walks, and a dead Welsh king.
The story is set in southern Virginia, in the town of Henrietta where ley line energy is especially strong. It’s hard to understand the entire premise of the story without having actually read it since the events and plot twists are all just so whimsical and mysterious, but take comfort in knowing that the characters understand just about as little as you do. The core cast of five characters is as unique and dynamic as the book they grace, and the incredibly captivating story of their discoveries of dream-created ravens, omniscient trees, and other supernatural occurrences makes for sure reread-able material.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Jude and Noah are twins, but they’re nothing like each other. They may play the same weird games of who-gets-the-sun and have the same weird ability to talk without really talking, but at thirteen, Jude is a daredevil and Noah is introverted. Then fast-forward to when they’re sixteen, “Jude-and-Noah” is of no more. In the aftermath of something their family has broken into pieces.
I’ll Give You the Sun switches back-and-forth between two POVs and two points in time: Noah narrates from when they are 13, and Jude narrates from when they are 16. This non-linear take on a story of two individuals who are one is beautiful in every aspect from the prose to the themes of first love, family, and coming-of-age. It skillfully illustrates the inevitability of loss, the regret for mistakes, the pain truth may bring, as well as the strength and endurance of recovery.
LGBTQA+ stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Asexual.” Matters involving sexual orientation and identity are often discussed in the news today, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that these issues also take form in a very personal struggle that young people from every demographic are forced to face on a regular basis. While not a traditional genre, expanding one’s horizons to include LGBTQA+ is as equally important, or perhaps even more so, as it is with any other type of book.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This is a really fun book about Simon’s romance and friendships. It’s mostly lighthearted and cute, but one of its main conflicts centers around being forced to come out. The author also does a good job in portraying how Simon’s journey is influenced by family and friends, and the impact he has on the people around him.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
In contrast to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, More Happy Than Not is definitely a book that’s intended towards an older teen audience. It deals with mature themes such as homophobia and depression, as well as the presence, method, and harm of a memory-alteration institute.
Be sure to check them out at Reston Regional Library!