Caution Readers! My video does not include any spoilers, but this article sure does. Tread carefully!
1. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
As I mentioned in the video, I could go on forever about Holden as a character. Despite all the teenage angst and whiny dialogue, he's just a kid afraid of the future. When you're young, you look at being an adult as pure freedom. Holden knows his whole future is ahead of him, but he's afraid of it. Think of how often adults complain about their jobs and responsibilities. Holden doesn't want that future, but feels it's his destiny. He feels displaced because no one his age understands his fears and adults just laugh at his innocence. He might be whiny teenager, but he's also lost and afraid. Being the catcher in the rye is about not letting anyone else feel alone.
Other Salinger works:
- Nine Stories
- Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction
- Franny and Zooey
2. Ender's Game – Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game might hold the number 2 slot, but it's all the books Card wrote about Bean that really mean the most to me. Dystopian futures where emotions are not present often portray characters as either apathetic or psychotic. Bean is entirely logic driven and could have very easily turned into an emotionless killing machine for an unethical cause. Instead, Card gave him empathy and created a different kind of soldier. Bean knows people need emotions, and that he lacks them. He wishes he could feel something, but at the same time is glad he will never have to experience heartbreak. Bean is the product of a scientific experiment and a very traumatic childhood. In my video I mentioned that the children in Ender's Game are very complex and Bean is no exception.
Within Bean's storyline a girl named Petra falls in love with him. Even this doesn't save Bean. He processes his own feelings for Petra through logic just as he does every situation he is faced with. Love doesn't save or change Bean. They have a relationship best described by the following quote:
“Which is why she knew that her feelings toward Bean were completely different. No such dreams and fantasies. Just a sense of complete acceptance. She belonged with Bean, not the way a wife belonged with a husband or, God forbid, a girlfriend with a boyfriend, but rather the way a left hand belonged with the right. They simply fit. Nothing exciting about it, nothing to write home about. But it could be counted on.”
Books in the Ender series:
- Ender’s Game
- Ender in Exile
- Speaker for the Dead
- Children of the Mind
Books in the Shadow saga (Bean and Friends):
- Ender’s Shadow
- Shadow of the Hegemon
- Shadow Puppets
- Shadow of the Giant
- Shadows in Flight
- Shadows Alive
3. The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
Something about war and space will always appeal to me. Talking about books that criticize war is always difficult. We are a generation of people who've lived and watched a very long war. We know people who've come and gone. We know people who never came back. Without the underlying commentary it still is an amazing science fiction book. The story was published in 1974 and takes place in a future that, well, we've already lived. The story begins in 1996, so some of the characters within the book are Vietnam war veterans. It's a little disorienting, but so it goes imaging alternate universes.
Other Haledman books:
- War Year
- All my Sins Remembered
- World Without End
- Worlds Apart
- Tool of the Trade
- The Long Habit of Living
- The Hemingway Hoax
- Worlds Enough and Time
- Forever Peace (Not a direct sequel, but relates to TFW)
- Forever Free (Not a direct sequel, but relates to TFW)
- The Coming
- Old Twentieth
- The Accidental Time Machine
4. Koko Takes a Holiday- Kieran Shea
After the creation that is Mad Max: Fury Road I can see a future where this book becomes a very amazing movie. As mentioned, there's a total of five female mercenaries who really bring to life the saying “BSGD”. I'm not going to explain that acronym here, because Koko does a much better job of it. The greatest thing about a book full of girl fights is that they never degrade each other. Being a successful mercenary is about finding your target’s weakness and exploiting it. When Koko researches one of the women tracking her, she actually talks about how impressive she is. She also realizes she's going to need a better gun. There exists a level of respect within their line of work that is similar to the movie John Wick. They respect each other's abilities, but there's money on the line and someone has to die. Turns out Koko the Mighty comes out this August and I'm really excited to see what other BSGD happens to Koko.
5. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
The beauty of RPO is that if you’ve ever mega-sweated about any part of nerd culture, it will speak to you. My knowledge of the ‘80s and Dungeons & Dragons is lacking, but Wade Watts is still my spirit animal. The exciting thing about the world Ernest Cline created is that it’s totally plausible. The Oculus Rift is the beginning of us having a fully submersible video game system. We're also running out of natural resources and Wade lives in a future that seriously lacks them. Wade also falls in love via the internet. If that doesn't speak to modern times, what does?
Whenever a fellow video game player asks for book suggestions I immediately go to RPO. If you've taken off a week from work for a game release... take a few hours for this book. Too often books about really nerdy things come off as condescending or as if they're trying to appeal to everyone. I have mega beef with The Big Bang Theory because it plays off of “nerd” stereotypes and was totally created for other people to laugh at our obsessions. Cline clearly is a nerd (if not, he totally fooled me) and writes solely for people who love video games. Who knows, maybe to non-nerds it's actually equal parts funny and terrifying, or maybe they're the ones feeling left out?
Prepare for July top 5
That’s it for this month’s top 5! Make sure to let me know what your favorites are. In July I’ll be breaking down my top 5 favorite graphic novels. You’re probably already aware of my passion for Spider-Man, but I promise there’s more to me than that.