Reading Recommendations for the Bibliophile in Each One of Us
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Caraval, the first book in the Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber, is a thrilling page-turner that follows the story of Scarlett, whose desire to leave the island where her father has been mistreating her for years is second only to her desire to keep her sister, Donatella, safe. Scarlett’s plans to wed a count and finally get herself and her sister off the island turn awry when she receives tickets to Caraval, a massive, magical, interactive performance hosted by a man known only as Legend. Her life spirals out of control as Donatella and a mysterious sailor named Julian kidnap Scarlett and sail to Caraval, as Donatella goes missing, and as she is pulled into a game designed to deceive and mystify its participants. As Caraval starts to near its close and Scarlett still hasn’t found her sister, she is forced to decide who to trust in a world built of lies and illusions, and a game that is allegedly merely an elaborate performance begins to seem more sinister.
This novel is perfect for those who loved the magic of the Harry Potter series and the twists and turns of the movie Spider Man: Far From Home. It is impossible to put down and will keep readers guessing until the very end. Caraval blurs the lines between reality and pretend and makes it rather difficult for both Scarlett and the reader to “remember, it’s only a game.”
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness is an award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller. The memoir chronicles Susannah Cahalan’s rapid descent into madness as she experiences seizures, intense paranoia, hallucinations, mood swings, and insomnia. In every sense of the word, she descends into madness. No one –not even her doctors– can figure out the root cause of her illness as she experiences both symptoms of mental and physical deterioration.
As a writer for the New York Post, Susannah Cahalan speaks from a distinct, journalistic perspective by simplifying the heavy science/medical jargon, piecing together her story, and writing with brutal honesty. The condition that she has (you have to read to find out just what it is!) leaves her with gaps in her memory from her time in the hospital. By writing her story, she manages to piece together information from friends, family members, doctors, video tapes from the hospital, journal entries from those around her, and notes from doctors about her case in a completely seamless manner, which immediately drew me into the book.
The book is written from her perspective and chronologically unfolds the events leading up to and through her time spent hospitalized. The memoir is raw, real, and extremely vulnerable. Susannah Cahalan’s unique writing style shines throughout the memoir, creating a story that is not only extremely captivating but, also, well-written.
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
If you are looking of a story filled with ghosts, secrets, and mysteries, Kate Milford’s Greenglass House is filled to the brim with them. This mysterious tale stars twelve-year-old Milo Pine and his adoptive parents who own and live in Greenglass House. Milo expects to have a relaxing Christmas break with his parents, until several guests arrive at the inn. Each guest seems to have secrets and an ulterior motive for staying at Greenglass House, which turns into the perfect mystery for Milo and Meddy, Milo’s new friend, to solve during the holidays. The odd, secretive guests each share something about their lives which strangely connects them to each other and to Greenglass House, and it is up to Meddy and Milo to figure out what strange things are afoot during the Christmas season.
A perfect story to read during the holidays, Greenglass House contains an adventurous mystery the audience is trying to solve along with the main character. A tale of weird, odd guests and a boy just wishing for a quiet Christmas break merges together to form the perfect mystery.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
Recursion is a fast-paced story that grips you as soon as you start reading. It follows the perspective of two narrators in two time periods: Helena Smith, a young neuroscientist with a passion to preserve memories and, five years later, a bitter New York detective named Barry Sutton. Detective Sutton is investigating a mysterious new epidemic dubbed “False Memory Syndrome,” or FMS, that is devasting the lives of people around the world. This condition makes it so that people wake up one day with two sets of memories: one true and one “false.” The problem is that both sets of memories feel real to the victims, and they have trouble understanding what’s real and trusting reality – and FMS is spreading. If people can’t believe their own memories anymore, what can they believe?
Helena Smith works in a lab at a dead-end facility when she is approached by an enigmatic figure who offers her more money than she could imagine to pursue her research. She takes the offer and dives deeper into her groundbreaking studies on memory reactivation. However, as she and her new colleagues progress in their research, they discover that memories have much more power over people’s lives than they believed. They also discover that the technology that they’ve produced would be absolutely devastating in the wrong hands.
As the stories of Helena and Barry intertwine, you begin to understand the relationship between the past and the present, and what happened to make the very fabric of reality shift underneath people’s feet. Throughout the entire novel, you are kept on your toes, wondering what is real and what is fake, and how memories effect what we perceive as reality.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The Hazel Wood is a novel with elements that give a feeling of Grimm’s fairytales. The novel is about a teen named Alice Proserpine who moves around the world with her mother, always seeming to be running from something. Her mother tells her that they are running from bad luck.
While on the run, they receive a letter saying that Alice’s grandmother, a popular author of a series of dark fairytales, has mysteriously died. Alice’s mother now thinks that the bad luck will stop following them, but, when her mother is kidnapped, Alice knows it has finally caught them. She suspects that her mother’s disappearance has something to do with her elusive grandmother and her horrifying stories. With the help of Ellery Finch, a fan obsessed with her grandmother’s work, they search for Alice’s mother and her grandmother’s home, the Hazel Wood.
If you like fairy tales with creepy twists this novel is definitely for you. Melissa Alberts, the author, is also releasing a sequel to the series in early January. This novel is a quick read with amazing world building and a creepy tone.