Books Make Me Happy

Reading Rut.

I was on a ROLL with reading before my Mom’s accident. I was reading 12 books a month…EASY. And now? I read one book in May. ONE BOOK IN MAY.

I need some recommendations. Stat.

I’d love any YA recommendations written about (and hopefully BY) minorities…whether it be sexuality or race or even gender if it’s not your cisgendered male or femaile.

I’d love any suspenseful adult fiction recommendations that has good characters. As in, characters I will like. I hated every character in Gone Girl so I hated the book, if that makes sense. Oh, and the book must have a happy ending. I’m not talking about Rainbow and Unicorn endings, but I want a resolution of some sort and I want the characters I love to be…okay. I just want to feel closure, I hate books that think they’re fancy by leaving you hanging.

I’d love any solid character stories from points of view not White Middle Class, but again, I want a good ending with closure and I’d love the characters to end feeling better than they did at the worst parts of the book. (Example…I liked An American Marriage. I didn’t love it because there was a lot of suffering and I just felt it so strongly it was hard to read, but the characters ended okay. I like books like that.)

I love Joshilyn Jackson
I love Liane Moriarty (although I got kind burned out on her)
I love every book I’ve read from this list although I haven’t read them all so if you’ve read any that you LOVED let me know because I trust this list but there are just SO MANY I don’t know where to start.


17 thoughts on “Reading Rut.”

  1. Hi Zoot, forgive me if you’ve already posted about “The love You Hate ” in one of your earlier posts, your so well informed that I would imagine you’ve read it, I’ve just finished it reading it for my writing group and wow has it ever charged me up for reading more YA. I see myself more Middle grade myself, as I don’t like violence, but that has now changed. I don’t know if you would be interested in British Literature but there is a book called “The One Memory of Flora Banks”, which I found an interesting premise, its about a young girl who had an accident at 10 years old and suffers severe short term memory loss, shes now 16 and wanting to embark on a life of her own. She grows a lot in story, even travels on her own and the ending has hope. I’ll have a think … as I should be writing my own thing right now for class.., but I could resist checking out “Zoot’s update” when your email pings in my inbox :)xx

  2. P.s. The next books I was going to read I searched for on Amazon after finishing the “LUH, was “Speed of Light” and “Amani all Mine”.

  3. I loved This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel. It was my favorite book of 2017, along with The Hate U Give. Everyone I’ve recommended it to loved it as well. I’m looking at the list you linked to and here are the ones I’ve read:
    Mosquitoland is excellent – it’s not always rainbows and unicorns but the character makes wonderful, hard hitting observations and I really liked and felt for her.
    When Dimple Met Rishi is fun, sometimes funny, sometimes sweet; a light read, for the most part.
    Jane, Unlimited – This was interesting but very weird; set in the multiverse, which was confusing to me.
    The Hazel Wood – this was dark and also strange; more fantasy
    Passenger- enjoyed this time travel book about young adults from 2 different times trying to solve a mystery/problem; there are 2 books, but they were both good.
    An Ember in the Ashes- This is the first in a series of at least 4 (3rd one comes out next week); the first 2 have been good. Some of these characters are not likable but aren’t supposed to be.
    Scarlet- this is part of a series but not the first one (Cinder is first). All the books are retellings of fairy tales set in a dystopian/science fiction future. I enjoyed them; not super deep fiction, just fun.
    Out of the Easy- very good
    The 5th Wave-excellent but very bleak; first of 3 books, all good.
    Everything, Everything and We Were Liars – did not like either of these for reasons I can’t say without spoiling the books.
    Off that list: I also enjoyed Dumplin’, The Hired Girl, The Steep and Thorny Way, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, If I Was Your Girl, Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer, All the Bright Places, All the Crooked Saints, Far From the Tree, The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, anything by Becky Albertalli
    So sorry if this is too much!

  4. I just finished a book called The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty that was part memoir, part family history, part cookbook. It was wonderfully written, very interesting, very powerful. I also just read a fiction book called The Flight Attendant, which was actually really good. I needed a break from all of my nonfiction!

  5. I have only just started the first book (there are two, I think) in this series, so I don’t know if it meets all of your criteria. But so far, Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older meets a lot of your criteria — it is YA, has heroine who is decidedly not white middle class, and she’s smart, funny and likeable.

    I don’t know if you ever read romance, but I’m also reading Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League books and those are quite good. Those are historical. She has a modern series called Off the Grid that are fun, fast reads. It’s a post-apocalyptic (sort of) story, but they never get too grim. Plus, they are super diverse.

  6. I just finished a good YA book called the Pants Project by Cat Clarke. I’ve also recently read and enjoyed Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, and Me before you by Jojo Moyes (warning this one is sad) and liked all of them. I also liked Flat broke with two goats by Jennifer McGaha. It doesn’t fit your criteria of marginalized groups, but is in an interesting memoir about a couple who was middle class and who has their life fall apart financially, so they end up living on a run down farm. I’m going to have to mark this post and its comments so I can come back and get more ideas for my next reads! I am currently reading A visit from the goon squad, by Jennifer Egan. I like it enough to finish it, but so far not enough to recommend it to others. If you have a kindle or a good device with a kindle app, I highly recommend using the Huntsville Public Libraries Digital Media Zone (DMZ) to get books for travel. I’ve read more books than I can count that way. I check them out for two weeks just like if I got them from the library. But the bonus is if I’m not home or can’t get to the library, I can return a book and check out a new one from my computer or phone wherever I am (I probably can do it from my kindle too, but computer is easier. )

  7. I’m currently reading Americanah – don t have the book in front of me and I can’t remember the author’s name. Also, haven’t finished it, so I don’t know how it ends but I’m really enjoying it. I also love Joshilyn Jackson. I just discovered her – read The Almost Sisters – so good! Now I’m going back and reading all of her books. Have you ever tried Anne Tyler?

  8. I’m going to be weird and recommend a book I didn’t love, but only because I seem to be in the very small minority on that assessment–seriously, it has gotten SO MANY “best of” accolades–and I think it ticks pretty much all the boxes you mentioned above. It’s a YA novel, “They Both Die at the End,” by Adam Silvera.

    It’s set in a reality where if you subscribe to this thing called “Death Cast,” you’ll get a call the day you’re going to die, letting you know that it’s happening that day. Then you get to choose what you do with your last day. Two male minority characters get the call, end up connecting, and form a deep bond over the course of their day. I was intrigued by the premise, I liked the characters a lot, and it ended exactly how I wanted it t–or maybe not how I wanted it to, but how it should’ve ended based on everything that happens in the book. My problems with the book were more to do with the structure and the sustainability of that premise–but again, I probably am in the minority on that take.

    Good luck finding your next book!

  9. Ooooo, I just recently read something I’ve been recommending. It’s doesn’t check all of your boxes but it is delightful! Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson.

  10. From the Parnassus list:

    If you haven’t read ‘Every Thing, Every Thing’ already, get it stat. I still think about that book at least once a month and I read it at least a year ago. So good.

    I didn’t enjoy ‘Of Fire and Stars’. None of the characters spoke to me, and I just had to slog through it.

    I’m sure you’ve already read the Rainbow Rowell book, but if not I recommend it. I also enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.

  11. OK, I’m going to give you something WAAAAY out there… It sounds totally dumb, but I promise, they’re a lot of fun. Have you heard of the genre LitRPG? Basically the premise is that the hero or heroine is transported into a video game world, where they have to level up, etc. There is a wide array of quality, but try The Land by Aleron King (more video gamey) or Sufficiently Advanced Magic (more Harry Potter/magic schooly) by Andrew Rowe. They’re on Kindle Unlimited.

    Or try The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg for a more classic women-oriented Victorian-era mild mystery series. Charlie Holmberg does a few other stand alone books that are interesting interpretations of little-known classic fairy tales. Also on Kindle Unlimited!

  12. Some YA I have read
    Afternoon of the Elves- I found it disturbing just as I find any real life situation where people should do something to help , but don’t.
    Building Blocks- I loved this Fantasy,Real life Fiction Work
    Dicey’s song
    Number the Stars- WW II Its about the “underground” rescue of Jewish people
    Grown up books
    The secret life of bees
    The Glass Castle
    The memory Keepers Daughter
    I assume that you have read most or all

  13. I’ll unlurk for book recommendations! I have the same issues with wanting good characters and closure, so I don’t think I’m recommending any books that don’t meet those criteria.

    These are some YA ones that I think you’d like and that I don’t think you’ve mentioned already reading (no particular order):
    Connect the Stars – Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
    The Porcupine of Truth – Bill Konigsberg
    The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness
    All the Truth That’s In Me – Julie Berry
    Sorta Like a Rock Star – Matthew Quick
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
    One Crazy Summer – Rita Williams-Garcia
    The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd

    And some non-YA but still very readable (also not in any order):
    This is How it Always Is – Laurie Frankel
    The Story Hour – Thrity Umrigar
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford
    Who Asked You? – Terry McMillan

  14. -I second This is How it Always Is, if you haven’t read that yet.
    -Another older one is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
    -The Justin Cronin trilogy is not my usual type of book but I found it pretty engrossing.
    -The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
    -Your recent crime drama spree makes me think you might like the Louise Penny mysteries. It took me a little while to get into the first one but I ended up really liking it- the detective is just such a good wholesome person that it’s refreshing.
    -For pure fluff I’d recommend Jenny Colgan.

  15. I left a comment earlier but I couldn’t resist also weighing in on the ParnassusNext books that I’ve read.
    Loved: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life; Carry On (I’m sure you’ve read both)
    Liked: Mosquitoland; Everything, Everything; The Impossible Knife of Memory; 100 Sideways Miles; My True Love Gave to Me; Out of the Easy; More than This
    Surprisingly didn’t like: Every Exquisite Thing (I usually love Matthew Quick but I found this main character irredeemably selfish); We Were Liars (again, I usually like E. Lockhart but I felt manipulated by this book)

  16. I was reading your criteria and thinking “she’d love Joshilyn Jackson”, and then I see that you do! She’s one of my faves. My other is Dorothy Koomson. She publishes in the UK so her books can be a little hard to find but are totally worth the trouble. Complicated characters, wonderful story telling. I would recommend them all but I think my favorite is That Girl From Nowhere.

  17. I was going to recommend Shadowshaper and the Loyal League books, but I see Hillary already has. So, um, second!

    The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. It’s Jane Austen meets Star Trek.

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