Saturday, February 11, 2017

What I Like to Read

I get a lot of books thrown at me. They come from authors, editors, publicists, and friends. Now, I like books, and I like free books even better. But (you knew that was coming) I do not like the books that most people seem to think I will like. I do not like books that resemble the books I write. I like books I could never imagine myself writing. 

Here are three titles I enjoyed recently.

The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
My oldest literary advisor, Leslie Harris, who turned me on to the James Bond novels when we were thirteen, made me read this book.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book with so many WTF moments. Because this book can be described as fantasy/horror it is not one I would normally seek out. I like fantasy, but horror…scares me.

The Library at Mount Char is Hawkins’ first novel, and it reads like a first novel. I like first novels. I like books that are a little bit messy, stories that zig and zag wildly, characters that are not-quite-right and therefore surprising and altogether convincing. In short, this book was entirely satisfying, and I will certainly read whatever he writes next.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
Kelly Barnhill is the juiciest writer I know. Her sentences fairly ooze and drip and gush, and I do not know how the hell she does it. I would read her grocery list.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is Barnhill’s fourth middle-grade novel, and the first one in which her storytelling caught up with her remarkable voice and prose. If you want to read an author coming into the height of her powers, check it out. Read her first three books too—they’re all excellent. 
I predict her next book will be even better, though that’s hard to imagine.

Bang, by Barry Lyga
I’ve read only two of Barry Lyga’s Young Adult novels: the remarkable Boy Toy back in 2007, and most recently an advance copy of Bang that showed up in my mail a few weeks ago. 

Lyga is a risk-taker, an edge-walker, an author who explores fraught places that scare the piss out of me. I’m often credited with writing “edgy” books. I do not write edgy books. Barry Lyga writes edgy books.

Bang is about a suicidal (yikes!) fourteen-year-old boy who, when he was four, found his father’s gun (OMG!) and shot his two-year-old sister (oof!). See, I could not write that book. My stomach clenches just to imagine it. But Lyga wades in fearlessly, confidently, and with consummate skill. There is also a fun (and occasionally funny) subplot about pizza! I could not stop reading.

Bang will be available this April.

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