2021 Book Recommendations

The dedication page from V.E. Scwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic addressing readers who crave for fantastical strange worlds. Creating a sense that readers will be teleported into a whole new world, the dedication sets up the novel's intended purpose of fantasy and magic.

As the new year has come again, many set new goals and new habits they want to add in their lives. One goal of many is to start reading this year. Reading may feel daunting or even tedious as most associate reading as a task for school, but when you find a good book it will become hard to not read. 

One of the most difficult parts about reading is finding the time to sit down and pick up a book. There are many opportunities to squeeze in some time such as before going to sleep at night or waking up in the morning or on a lunch break. Starting to read can also fill out a lot of free time from the pandemic and provides a good way for escape in a productive way. Another easy way to read more is to always have a way to read at all times. From carrying a book to having a book downloaded on the phone, having the opportunity to read at all times can break habits of mindlessly scrolling through social media. 

The other hardest part of starting to read is knowing what to get into and what to pick up. Finding recommendations from teachers, parents and friends is a good place to start. Finding recommendations on the internet and from booksellers can be a good way to find books to read. Reading books that you have read when you were younger or a book you enjoyed in class can also really spark interest in reading. 

Reading provides people a deeper understanding of humanity and a great way to further knowledge and our needs to escape from the real world. There is a book out there for everyone and with encouragement and finding one there is no stopping. With the new year comes new stories to be read.

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!” (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice).

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman and his job is the opposite of what we think of when we think of a fireman. His job is to burn books which are forbidden as they have been found to be the source of unhappiness by the government. Montag questions his societal norms and wonders if books are really the source of unhappiness.

Fahrenheit 451 is a wonderful and easy classic to get into. It is a story that resonates with ideas and struggles of freedom of thought and press that are important to society and overall the intellectual being.  Bradbury’s commentary on how technology will ultimately rot people’s brains and the lack of one’s own intellectual thought really resonate with today’s society. This novel was ahead of its time and serves to be timeless amongst novels.

Circe by Madeline Miller: As many have read a tale or two about Greek Mythology, Circe is a retelling of the enchantress and how she has been banned from Olympus for her witchcraft. Isolated, Circe learns to become one with her craft, taming beasts and crossing paths with famous figures of other tales such as Odysseus. Circe must protect herself and all that she cares about from dangers of man and gods and find multiple means of love through herself and others. 

For people who are really into Greek Mythology, Circe is a great retelling of the witch from the epic poemThe Odyssey and other tales. Themes of love and self love are integral to this story, and the writing is poetic and invoking. Miller captured Circe’s worldview and how the world ages around her while Circe stayed constant. Each story and life event has meaning and depth that all can relate to which gives readers a deep connection to the story and character. 

Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson: Dickinson’s poetry is one of intellect and remarkable writing. Her poems are not long and yet there is so much to digest. Truly one of the best American poets, Dickinson took liberties of experimenting with rhythm and meter and used techniques that influenced modern poetry. Her themes of life and death, love, nature, solitude and society are themes that anyone can resonate within their lives.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: Set in historical London but with a twist of parallel times there are three Londons; Red, Grey, White and at one point Black. Kell, a rare magician called Antari must travel through all Londons to save the world and himself.

For fans of Harry Potter, this more mature version with complexity and a fast pace flow, Schwab’s novel is a page turner. With smugglers and magic a combination never seen before, Schwab’s world that she built is imaginative and well crafted. Her characters are complex and well thought out, though in a fantastical world characters are relatable and feel like characters readers can relate to. Readers are transported to the cobbled streets of Grey London and walk along the Red River in Red London, the writing engulfs readers into the story.

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