Tag Archives: fiction books

21 YA Books that are Actually Worth Reading

OK it’s time to get real for a sec…I’m so sick of sappy YA novels. HOW MANY MORE WAYS CAN WE TELL THE SAME STORY, PEOPLE?  I know I’m unique in my views on YA literature and I know a lot of you bookworms actually really love YA books and I think that’s awesome! But if I have to read one more book about a teen dying of cancer or losing the love of their life, I’m just gonna lose my damn mind.

What I DO love are YA books that are honest and real. Books that put it all out there and make you uncomfortable and make you question your beliefs. Books that talk about things like race, gender, religion, and friendship in a way that feels relatable, not sugar-coated. Not everyone comes from a broken family…hell, not everyone even has parents and siblings. We all don’t get the chance to tell that guy from homeroom that we like him…and not all of us can relate to the “popular” click that so often rule the school.

Throughout my years as an English student, I’ve read my fair share of YA lit…and I’ve gotta tell ya, a lot of it was rough…but there were a few books that really stood out to me as novels that were relevant and important. These books taught me something and made me think…some even pissed me off. Some were just a delight to read and are on this list just because I firmly believe their existence makes the world a better place.

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So if you are one to dive into YA lit now and again, I highly suggest you check out some of these titles if you haven’t already. What other books should make this list? Let me know in the comments below!

21 YA Books that are Actually Worth Reading

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
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The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
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The Giver, Louis Lowry
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The Hunger Games Series, Suzanne Collins
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Lord of the Flies, William Golding
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The Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
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HOLES, Louis Sachar
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The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
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To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
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Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
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His Dark Materials Series, Philip Pullman
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Wonder, R.J. Palacio
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The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
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A Separate Peace, John Knowles
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A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne
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Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
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Watership Down, Richard Adams
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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Best Books to Give to Everyone on Your List

We all have so many different kinds of people in our lives…and it’s near impossible to find books that best suit every type of friend…BUT, I’m here to offer some help!

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Outside of the usual fiction lovers or top 100 lovers, there are people out there who just want to laugh at their sadness…or read about f*cking amazing food.  There are people who need advice on raising their kids and people who are just kids at heart.  With this list, you’ll be able to find amazing books that you can buy for your single friend, your friend who loves to travel, your friend who secretly loves a good YA novel and even your friend who is there for you during your most embarrassing times.

The Best Books to Give to Everyone on Your List

The Single Friend
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, Jenni Ferrari-Adler
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A collection of hilarious short stories about cooking for one, this book is a MUST even if you sometimes cook for two or five.

The Traveler
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
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No one can tell a travel tale like Bill Bryson. With hilarious antidotes about hiking the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods will make you want to pack a backpack (and maybe some toenail clippers) and hit the open road.

For the SAHM
Sh*tty Mom, Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, Mary Ann Zoellner
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Written by four moms who have seen it all, this book is the ultimate parenting guide. Each chapter presents a common parenting scenario with advice on how to get through it in the easiest way possible (like, “How to Sleep Until 9 AM Every Weekend”, for example).

For the Foodie
F*UCK, that’s Delicious, Action Bronson
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This ain’t no cookbook. This ain’t no memoir. This is a devotional book about the overwhelming power of delicious – no, f*cking amazing – food.

The Working Girl
#GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso
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The founder, creative director and CEO of Nasty Gal fills her memoir with advice on how to get hired, stay employed, and how to take care of your own business…all while keeping true to yourself.

For Music Lovers
Your Song Changed My Life, Bob Boilen
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NPR’s music guru asks dozens of artists (Jimmy Page, St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson) about the songs that inspired them.

For Film Buffs
Pictures at a Revolution, Mark Harris
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A look at five films, including The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, that were made during the 1970s. Studios were taking chances and making daring, thought-provoking, original movies that had nothing to do with sequels. By some, it’s thought to have been the true golden age of Hollywood.

The DIY Enthusiast
Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, Amy Sedaris
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Filled with actual great ideas for cheap ways to make gifts and decorate you rhome, Simple Times is bound to be a favorite with crafters and creative minds alike.

The YA Lover
One of Us is Lying, Karen M. McManus
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It’s The Breakfast Club meets Gossip Girl.  Five teens walk into detention, but only four walk out alive.  A threat to release juicy gossip about classmates finds one teen belly up in a classroom.

For Those Who Love a Twist
My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
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I know it’s an old book, but I LOVED the twist at the end! When Kate is born with a horrible illness, her parents decide to give birth to Anna, a child who was medically altered to be able to be Kate’s sole blood and organ donor. But when Anna fights her family for rights to her body, things start to spiral out of control.

For the Book Lover
My Ideal Bookshelf, Jane Mount
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A large assortment of writers, actors, musicians, and popular leaders in the country share what books would populate their ideal bookshelves.  This book also features amazing illustrations of what those shelves might look like. A coffee table-style book that’s a must for any bibliophile!

For the Fashionista
Women in Clothes, Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton
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The three women behind this book survey more than 600 women about their feelings and perspectives on fashion.

The History Buff
Grant, Ron Chernov
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Often misunderstood and under-appreciated, General Ulysses S. Grant is all too often caricatured as a chronic loser and inept businessman…but Chernov gives readers a new view of the General, bringing to light how one simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.

For the Soon-to-Be Grown-Up
Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, Kelly Williams Brown
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Based on Brown’s blog, ADULTING, this book makes the scary, confusing “real world” approachable, manageable…and even conquerable.

For the Quirky One
Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse, Alida Nugent
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They say misery loves company…and this book is like that weird friend you just need in your life sometimes…to help pick you up, dust you off, and give you a story so bizarre if not just to make you feel better about wearing your shirt inside out all day.

For the Visual Reader
The Lego Architect, Tom Alphin
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If you’re looking for a book for someone who just loves looking at pictures, take a gander at this book of amazing Lego creations.  There are even instructions on how you can build your own replicas of the models featured in the book.

For Animal Lovers
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
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This book is about a man and his dog, narrated from the dog’s point of view. Enzo, the dog in the book, is the kind of pet that we all imagine we own…wise, genuine, loving, kind and comical.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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25 Celebrities Reveal Their Favorite Books

A few weeks ago we looked at 24 Authors Who Shared Their Favorite Books…today we’re gonna continue the list and see what our favorite celebrities love to read when they have some rare time off.

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Looks like it’s time to rehash my Goodreads list now…

25 Celebrities Reveal Their Favorite Books

James Franco
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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“My father gave me this book when I was getting into trouble in high school…I really love the interior lives of the characters and the multiple perspectives—they have inspired my own stories.”

Zoe Saldana
Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

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Lucy…called out to me, to the kind of life I had and the kind of person I am.”

Katie Holmes
Washington Square by Henry James

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“I loved the setting and the way James writes about people.”

Jon Hamm
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

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“Stoppard has an amazing command of the English language. He moves the plot along in such a way that if you’re not paying close attention, you won’t catch the five or six things that are going on.”

Bill Murray
A Story Like the Wind by Laurens Van Der Post

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Natalie Portman
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

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“It’s one of the most beautiful, entertaining, challenging books – something that takes all your attention. I think the stories are meditations on violence, specifically the necessity of violence.”

Michael Caine
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

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Michelle Obama
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

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“…that book helped me love reading…it grabbed me and pulled me and I just kept reading and kept reading.”

Robin Williams
Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

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“It’s one of the greatest books of all time, and the greatest character is The Mule.”

Stephen King
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Dolly Parton
The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper

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“I’m the little engine that did. I think it’s a great little inspirational book. It really kinda sums me up pretty good.”

Denzel Washington
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

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Emma Watson
The BFG by Roald Dahl

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“My dad read me The BFG when I was younger. I like books that aren’t just lovely but that have memories in themselves. Just like playing a song, picking up a book again that has memories can take you back to another place or another time.”

Tom Hanks
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

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Olivia Munn
Replay by Ken Grimwood

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“The takeaway for me was that no matter what life you’ve led or the choices you’ve made, there will always be great love and great sadness – you can’t escape those two things.”

Kate Winslet
Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

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Alec Baldwin
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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“In some important ways the characters that we have grown to love in this story are worse off at its end, but they are wiser, and the family still has each other. This is a great story about facing life’s difficulties and moving on, no matter what.”

Zooey Deschanel
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

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“It’s delightfully astute.”

George Clooney
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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Will Smith
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

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“Coelho talks about the whole of the universe, and it’s contained in one grain of sand. For years I’ve been saying that, and not it’s really starting to expose itself to me.”

Jim Carrey
Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Rachel McAdams
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

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“[David Sedaris]…has a way of finding humor in the strangest and most painful moments…[his] books are such a revelation about how you can celebrate life’s strangeness and idiosyncrasies.”

Halle Berry
Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime by J. California Cooper

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“The stories in this collection follow common folk dealing with everyday issues. They’re good people who sometimes make evil choices, and you see them suffer as a result. While many of the stories start off dark and depressing, ultimately, they are incredibly inspirational.”

Emma Thompson
The Odyssey by Homer

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Daniel Radcliffe
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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“It’s just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart.”

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Snowman Book Review

Remember this scene in The Office where Dwight tortures Jim with a bunch of snowmen?

Now add an alcoholic police investigator, an insane killer out for revenge, and a few body parts tucked comfortably into those icy cold torsos and you’ve got Jo Nesbo’s crime thriller, The Snowman.

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The inspiration behind the recent film of the same name (which SUCKED, by the way), The Snowman is the seventh novel in the Harry Hole detective series, but you don’t have to have any prior knowledge of his books to enjoy this one.

Set in Oslo, Norway, The Snowman is a murder-mystery thriller that will leave you questioning everyone in this story.  Just when you think you have the murderer pegged, something changes and you’re left right back where you started…and you’re not alone.  Police investigator, Harry Hole, is left just as confused…for the closer he gets to the killer, the terrifying game the killer is playing with him is suddenly revised.

Always striking after a fresh snowfall, the killer chooses his victims specifically and with reason…then leaves clues for the police buried inside a freshly made snowman.  Some snowmen sport decapitated heads, others hold cell phones or scarves.  The victims all have something in common…the only question is what?

Though this book was somewhat slow to start, once it got started, The Snowman was impossible to put down. Fiercely suspenseful, this novel is filled with amazing characters that seem to come to life right on the page. I have to admit that this book had me guessing the whole time and the ending was totally worth the wait, if I do say so myself!

Now, if you’re the kind of person who thinks, “Why read the book when I can just see the movie?” do yourself a favor and actually read the book this time.  The movie makes the killer way too obvious and leaves out MAJOR plot holes that heavily drive the story along in the novel.  Even though Michael Fassbender is in it, I’m telling you it’s not worth it.  Watch him in Shame instead.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.  😉

A cold-blooded murder mystery thriller that will have you looking twice at any snowman that pops up in your neighborhood, The Snowman is a creep-tastic novel that will chill you to the bone.  Bundle up for this one…just like the first snowfall of winter, this book will leave you cold and shivering.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Lincoln in the Bardo Review

When I was about 11 years old, I watched a made-for-TV movie about Abraham Lincoln titled, Tad.  It starred my crush at the time, Bug Hall, as Lincoln’s son Tad, as well as Jane Curtain as Mary Todd Lincoln and Kris Kristofferson as Abe Lincoln.  I don’t remember much about it, but that movie changed my life in two major ways:

  1. It was the motivation behind me wanting to take up the trumpet, which became a massive part of my middle school, high school, and college career
  2. It instituted in me a life-long obsession with Abraham Lincoln

If you’re REALLY interested in watching Tad, it is available on YouTube.  I’ve been on the fence about wanting to watch it again, but you can check it out in all its glory right here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBedzZ7QAW0

I honestly can’t tell you what it was about the movie that made me love Lincoln so much…but it was enough for me to ask for a family trip to Springfield, IL so I could dwell in Lincoln nostalgia.  It was enough for my family to start buying me any book with “Abraham Lincoln” in the title.  It was even enough for me to dress up like Abraham Lincoln for Halloween one year and have an Abraham Lincoln-inspired birthday cake.  The love was real, guys.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for Honest Abe…and I think I always will.  I still gravitate to TV shows, movies and books about him, which is what led me to pick up today’s book, Lincoln in the Bardo.

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Told from the perspective of several ghosts two nights after Abe Lincoln loses his son, Willie, to typhoid fever, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.  Organized more like a play than a novel, this book begs for a stage or film adaptation, and a rather creepy one at that (word is that actor Nick Offerman and his wife, Megan Mullally have purchased film rights to this book…so read it before it hits theaters)!

The entire book is set over the course of one night and is narrated by a handful of spirits, some long since dead, some only recently so, and is a thrilling exploration on death, grief, the afterlife, and the powers of good and evil.

In Tibetian Buddhism, The Bardo is a sort of limbo state between death and rebirth into the next life.  Willie Lincoln lingers there, unable to move forward, along with a collection of spirits who are all being held back for one reason or another.  And Abe, who would often visit the crypt of Willie after his death to stroke his face and hair (true story), also lingers in a bardo of sorts, trying to steer the country forward during the brink of the Civil War while also dealing with the death of his beloved child.  If that’s not enough to break your heart, Willie’s narration throughout the book helps give insight into Abe Lincoln’s character as only a son can…with deep understanding, respect, and love.

I’m gonna be honest…this book was hard to read at times…not because of the content, but just because of the way it’s written.  It’s different.  There are parts that are repetitive and there are parts that don’t really flow, but as you read on, things begin to make sense…and though it’s not a heart-racing dash to the big finish, the ending is just what you need it to be…honest and meaningful and bittersweet.

Lincoln in the Bardo stands up to its reputation of being bizarre and irreverent; heartbreaking and surreal.  It’s a profound meditation on grief, loss, and how painful it is to let go of something we hold dear.  It’s not for everyone, but for those who look for a book that will challenge you to think differently or a book that will help give you perspective, you cannot go wrong with at least giving this book a try.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Hostage Book Review

In the summer of 1997, Christophe Andre, a humanitarian worker with Doctors Without Borders, was kidnapped in Nazran by men seeking a ransom.  He was blindfolded, driven to some unknown location, and locked up in a small room with nothing but a mattress.

In Guy DeLisle’s biography of Andre’s kidnapping, aptly titled Hostage, Andre’s story comes to life in simple illustrations and, with the highest form of complement intended, is pure torture to read.

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With little to no dialogue and illustrations that show Andre’s first-person nightmare, Hostage is based on DeLisle’s recordings of Andre’s accounts of the abduction and his attempts at escape.  What it lacks in action it makes up for in hundreds of pages of inaction…adding to the pure boredom, terror, and monotony that comes with being locked up in a room for months on end.

A limited color palate also helps add a dream-like feel to this story and in a sense becomes a character itself, helping us feel limited, enclosed, and claustrophobic.

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Over the course of four months, we sit patiently with Andre, eating…sitting…eating…sitting, just waiting for a rescue that may or may not ever come.  The only thing driving the story forward are the thoughts in his head…and as Andre’s story continues and races to a heart-quickening finale, Hostage becomes quite a page-turner and has an ending that will not leave you disappointed.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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8 Books that Encourage Discussion – Part 2

Several months ago, I gave some suggestions for books that encourage discussion.  Since that post, I’ve read several other books that would be great for book clubs, talking about over dinner, or reading with your family.

Whether you’re looking for a new book to bring to your group or just like a book that really makes you think, here are 8 more Books that Encourage Discussion.

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8 Books that Encourage Discussion – Part 2

For Interracial Groups:
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Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult – During her shift at a Connecticut hospital, Ruth Jefferson begins a routine checkup on a newborn baby, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents of the newborn, who are high-ranking white supremacists, don’t want Ruth, an African-American nurse, touching their child. But when the baby goes into cardiac distress, Ruth is put in a tough position…does she safe the child or obey the parents’ wishes and leave the baby to die? An emotional and extremely relevant book, Small Great Things tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and acceptance with great empathy and candor.

For Groups with History Buffs:
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Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders – Set over the course of one night, Lincoln in the Bardo is an amazing novel about death, grief, acceptance, and understanding. Two days after his young son Willie dies, Abraham Lincoln goes to visit his son’s crypt in the dark of night. As Lincoln sits with his son’s body, the cemetery comes to life with ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, talking about death, grief, and the powers of good and evil. With dark humor and grace, Saunders’s novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read and will surely encourage discussions not only about Lincoln himself, but about fathers and sons, life and death, and all the other big and small choices along the way.

For Feminist Groups:
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Becoming Unbecoming, Una – A devastating personal account of gender violence told in comic book form, Becoming Unbecoming is about a woman’s struggle with shame and social responsibility after she becomes the victim of a very violet act. Set against the backdrop of the 1970’s Yorkshire Ripper manhunt, this graphic novel interweaves two emotional stories into one.
Read more by visiting my Becoming Unbecoming review.

For Groups with Lots of Millennials:
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The Circle, Dave Eggers – When Mae Holland is hired to work for The Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms, the flurry of activities and clubs to join – it all seems too good to be true. But as Mae begins to learn more about The Circle and her role there, important questions begin to rise about privacy, history, and personal connections. This book is sure to get under your skin and will certainly make you think twice about every email you send, every bill you pay online, and every picture you share – either privately or publicity.
Read more by visiting my The Circle review.

For Groups Wanting to Talk About the Tough Stuff:
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A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness – Around midnight, 13-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom…but this isn’t the monster that’s been haunting Conor’s dreams for the past few nights…this is a new one…it’s ancient and wild. It’s goal is simple…all it wants from Conor is the truth. A book that will shake you to your core, A Monster Calls is about the things that haunt us, both real and imagined, and how sometimes acknowledging those fears is the best way to start healing. Bring tissues for this one, guys.
Read more by visiting my A Monster Calls review.

For Groups Going Back to the Classics:
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Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee – For those book clubs that want to dive back into the classics, there’s no better place to start than To Kill a Mockingbird. A story that can speak to any generation, TKAM is basic book club 101. And if you’re looking to further your conversation, consider the sequel to TKAM, Go Set a Watchman. Set 20 years after we last left the Finch family, Scout returns home to visit her father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Scout begins to realize how small-minded Maycomb, Alabama remains, even as the rest of the world begins to move forward. Adding depth, context, and understanding to its companion novel, Go Set a Watchman shows readers that things aren’t always what they seem, and sometimes it’s just as hard to come home again as it was to leave in the first place.

For Groups with Dreamers:
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Daytripper, Fabio Moon – What are the most important days of your life? The day you met your spouse? The day your child was born? The day you got your dream job? Or maybe it was just one Thursday when everything just seemed to go right. In this stunning graphic novel, Bras de Oliva Domingos explores the days that changed him. Days that helped make him who he is. A mysterious and moving story about life itself, this journey uses the quiet moments, the stolen glances, the quick brushes of the skin, to ask the big question…what’s it all about?
Read more by visiting my Daytripper review.

For Groups Looking for YA Books:
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Everything Everything, Nicola Yoon – Maddie is sick. She’s allergic to the world. She doesn’t leave her house and spends her days in her white, clean, pristine room. But when a moving truck arrives next door and she sees a tall, lean boy step out, everything (everything) changes. A story about living, in whatever form that may take, Everything, Everything is a modern take on John Travolta’s Boy in the Plastic Bubble, and will surely encourage discussions about what it really means to live your life.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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20 Spooky Thrillers to Read for Halloween

The leaves have already started changing colors in Chicago…which means I’M READY FOR HALLOWEEN.

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I love me a good spine-tingling spooky thriller on a blustery fall night…and while I could easily populate this list with Stephen King novels alone, I’ve gathered a few of my favorite books perfect for reading in the weekends leading up to All Hallows Eve…

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Best accompanied with a blanket and a BIG cup of hot apple cider (having a guard dog on hand probably isn’t a bad idea, either), these spooky thrillers are sure to get under your skin and just sit there, lurking, until they crawl into your dreams at night to play…

20 Spooky Thrillers to Read for Halloween

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
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The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
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Room, Emma Donoghue
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The Never List, Koethi Zan
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World War Z, Max Brooks
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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith
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Bird Box, Josh Malerman
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Haunted, Chuck Palahniuk
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The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
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The Road, Cormac McCarthy
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
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The Boy Who Drew Monsters, Keith Donohue
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The Girl With All the Gifts, M.R. Carey
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Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
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The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares, Joyce Carol Oates
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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
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The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders, Anthony Flacco
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Booked to Die, John Dunning
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Nocturnes, John Connolly
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Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
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 Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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21 Books to Read for a Good Ugly Cry

Sometimes we just need a good, healthy ugly cry.

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Sure, you can listen to Tom Waits or Taylor Swift and cry one out…or pop in The Family Stone or Titanic if you’re feeling blue…but for us bookworms, the list of books practically guaranteed to stimulate an ugly cry is often too long to even consider…

The thing about books is that you spend SO MUCH TIME with these characters.  A sad movie is over and done in a couple hours…but for some of us, a sad book may take months to complete…so it really is an emotional roller coaster to finish some of these stories!

I love a good ugly cry…and I give big props to books that can bring me to tears.  While some of these were more tear-jerking than others, they are all worthy of a read if you’re feeling like you need to open the floodgates a little bit.

books to read for a good ugly cry

21 Books to Read for a Good Ugly Cry

One Day
David Nicholls

A relationship is brought to life over the course of 20 years. Snapshots are revealed on the same day – July 15th – of each year, and as Dex and Em face fights, laughter, tears, and missed opportunities, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

We Were Liars
E. Lockhart

A group of friends spends a beautiful summer on a private island, laughing, swimming, as socialites do. But when an accident causes a secret to be released, everything changes. This book is slow to start, but the end made it worth it for me.

My Sister’s Keeper
Jodi Picoult

What would you do for the people you love? When Anna is forced to sacrifice her health for the safety of her sister, Kate, questions about life and morality are raised. A provocative novel that raises important ethical issues, this story is about the struggle for survival…at all costs.

Night
Elie Wiesel

Perhaps the most brilliant and heart-breaking book in the Holocaust canon of literature, Night should be required reading for every human being. Honest, eye-opening, and terrifying at times, this memoir puts readers right into the middle of the chaos.

Bottomless Belly Button
Dash Shaw

This graphic novel tells the story of a family that comes together for one weekend, only to discover that the reason for the gathering is that mom and dad are getting divorced. A story for the times, this novel is so truthful, raw, and honest.

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

After Susie Salmon is murdered, she tries to help her family solve the mysteries surrounding her death. Told from Susie’s perspective as she watches the aftermath of her murder unfold from Heaven, this story raises interesting questions about the afterlife, and what that means for those who must continue on surviving.

The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This timeless tale tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe. Through a collection of extraordinary encounters and discoveries, we learn, along with the Prince, how wonderful and sad life can be.

A Monster Calls
Patrick Ness

Oh man…if you’re only gonna read one book on this list for the ultimate ugly cry, it should be this one. One of the most truthful and beautiful portrayals of what it’s like to loose a loved one to a sickness, this story will utterly wreck you.

Tuesdays with Morrie
Mitch Albom

After Mitch Albom reconnects with his college professor, Morrie Schwartz, at the end of Morrie’s life, a beautiful friendship develops that turns into a collection of final lessons on how to live. You know how this one ends, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion

This memoir explores important questions about life as a widow, a wife, and a mom. When author Joan Didion suddenly looses her husband at the dinner table, she embarks on a journey of anger, healing, and understanding that’s all too familiar if you’ve ever lost a loved one.

The Road
Cormac McCarthy

After the human race is basically obliterated after an unsubscribed apocalypse of some kind, a father and his son must fight for survival in a world that is nearly void of life. This is a quick, but powerful read.

Daytripper
Fabio Moon

How would our lives be different if we waited in the longer line in the grocery store? If we really ended up with our soul mate? If we got our dream job? This graphic novel explores the question that forever plagues the human race: what if? Truly inspiring and bittersweet, this book was one I found myself reading again immediately after finishing it the first time.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny story about family, love, loyalty, and hope, this book is beautifully crafted and is a captivating look at all the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it.

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

Set during WWII, this groundbreaking novel tells the story of a girl, Liesel Meminger, and her love of books. Narrated by Death himself, this story raises interesting questions about why and how we die, using the background of the war to better highlight how all walks of life continue to run from the same enemy.

The Last Lecture
Randy Pausch

After his fatal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, professor Randy Pausch gives his class one last lecture before retiring to spend the rest of his life with his family. This one is a heart-wrencher. Filled with inspiring and motivational quotes, this little book packs a powerful punch.

Love You Forever
Robert Munsch

A short children’s story about a mother and son, this book is probably on the shelf of children all over the US. The deeper message of aging and the circle of life make this book a must for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates

I’ve realized that this book is on a lot of book lists that I do, but it’s just that good. As we watch a seemingly perfect marriage fall apart at the seams, it becomes clear that relationships are a lot different to those on the inside, and sometimes what we see is NOT what you get.

Red Hook Road
Ayelet Waldman

This one hit me in a very unexpected way. As a newly married couple drives to their reception, they become victims of a deadly car crash. The families awaiting their arrival are left to pick up the pieces, and go from planning a wedding to planning a funeral.  Now they must learn to work together to honor the wishes of the now deceased bride and groom.

Bridge to Terabithia
Katherine Paterson

OMG. I’m sure we all read this as pre-teens, yes? The ultimate he/she friendship story, this book tells the tale of Jess and Leslie, two friends who create a magical kingdom together where they reign as king and queen, that is until a tragic accident changes everything. OMG WITH THE TISSUES.

To Dance with the White Dog
Terry Kay

This was the first book that ever made me cry!  When Sam Peek’s wife passes away, his children worry that he won’t be able to take care of himself; however, when a mysterious white dog appears, Sam wonders if it’s the spirit of his wife returning to him.

Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck

A beautiful story about friendship, this classic book hits ya right in the gut. Two outsiders work together to find their place in a society that wants nothing to do with them. A story that has birthed a Broadway play and not one, but THREE acclaimed films, this book is great for a good, classic cry.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Reading Around the Country: 50 Books for 50 States

They say that books are the cheapest form of travel…and with this list of 50 Books for 50 States, you can make your way around the US from the comfort of your own couch.

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Start your journey at the Whistle Stop Café in Alabama (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café), then journey into the Alaskan wilderness in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild.  Travel back in time to 1800’s Chicago for the Chicago World’s Fair in Devil in the White City, then get a true taste of Wyoming’s beautiful landscape in Annie Proulx’s collection of stories, Close Range.

This is the ultimate reading list for those looking to learn about the eclectic culture of the US, from the rough and tough landscapes of the American southwest to the picturesque mountains and valleys that abound on our coastal states.

Reading Around the Country: 50 Books for 50 States

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  • Alabama – Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, Fannie Flagg
  • Alaska – Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
  • Arizona – Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
  • Arkansas – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • California – East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  • Colorado – Kings of Colorado, David E. Hilton
  • Connecticut – Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
  • Delaware – And Never Let Her Go, Ann Rule
  • Florida – Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

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  • Georgia – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt
  • Hawaii – The Descendants, Kaui Hart Hemmings
  • Idaho – Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
  • Illinois – Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
  • Indiana – All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
  • Iowa – The Bridges of Madison County, Robert James Waller
  • Kansas – In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
  • Kentucky – Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • Louisiana – The Awakening, Kate Chopin

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  • Maine – It, Stephen King
  • Maryland – The Sot-Weed Factor, John Barth
  • Massachusetts – The Crucible, Arthur Miller
  • Michigan – The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Minnesota – The Good Girl, Mary Kubica
  • Mississippi – The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  • Missouri – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • Montana – A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Norman Maclean
  • Nebraska – O Pioneers!, Willa Cather

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  • Nevada – Desperation, Stephen King
  • New Hampshire – A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  • New Jersey – American Pastoral, Philip Roth
  • New Mexico – The Milagro Beanfield War, Joe Mondragon
  • New York – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  • North Carolina – A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash
  • North Dakota – The Round House, Louise Erdrich
  • Ohio – Deadeye Dick, Kurt Vonnegut
  • Oklahoma – The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

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  • Oregon – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
  • Pennsylvania – Rabbit, Run, John Updike
  • Rhode Island – The Witches of Eastwick, John Updike
  • South Carolina – The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
  • South Dakota – The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, Ann Weisgarber
  • Tennessee – A Death in the Family, James Agee
  • Texas – Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger
  • Utah – The 19th Wife, David Ebershoff
  • Vermont – Where the Rivers Flow North, Howard Frank Mosher

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  • Virginia – Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
  • Washington – Border Songs, Jim Lynch
  • West Virginia – Rocket Boys, Homer H. Hickam, Jr.
  • Wisconsin – A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick
  • Wyoming – Close Range: Wyoming Stories, Annie Proulx

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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