Read Harder: Middle Grade Book Recommendations

I’m back with my most recent Book Riot Read Harder Challenge video! I’m recommending Middle Grade books this week. I read three of these books in one week and feel pretty epic about that. They were short, but still…

Want to learn more about the challenge? Get the details here.

Read Harder: Read A Horror Book

I’m back with my most recent Book Riot Read Harder Challenge video! I discussed horror books just in time for your October reading. Want to learn more about the challenge? Get the details here.

Books Discussed:

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Uzumaki by Junji Ito
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Young Rebels of Fiction: Book Recommendations for Introverts

This post was originally published by Book Riot on June 16, 2015.

Maybe in high school you used books as screens to shield your eyes from the hordes of silverback peers who would surely bare their teeth if you looked up. Or, having dared yourself to attend a party full of strangers only to end up squishing your entire being into the darkest corner of the room like a flavorless wad of chewed-up gum, you turn to your phone and the ebook you downloaded JUST IN CASE (thank the lord, hallelujah) and laugh hard at the funny parts so people think you’re having a super-cool text war with Ricky Gervais instead of what you’re actually doing, which is to say being a terrified, midnight-hit Cinderella in a party dress turned wine-stained clown suit…

What I’m saying is, I’ve been there. And though my lifelong fear of social situations has somewhat improved thanks to my introduction to alcohol at (let’s say) twenty-one years old, I still mostly rely on the daring of fictional characters to sate my need for a bit of rebellion. As I’m the sharing type, I offer you my book recommendations–a starter kit of sorts–for the introvert looking to stir some vicarious living into a, perhaps, milky-toasty lifestyle. And I suggest turning to the young rebels because what better time for feigned confidence than those awkward, uncertain teen and early adult years?

cover of Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu GuoFenfang Wang from Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo: At seventeen years old, Fenfang leaves her village and peasant life to claim youth and get hers in the bustling, big city of Beijing. Equipped with a middle school education and experience digging up sweet potatoes, she sets out for a career in film. I was on intimate terms with Fenfang from the outset and felt like a village friend reading about her life as an extra, her re-education, and her unsatisfying relationships in the city while goggling at the accompanying photo illustrations. Her street-smart irreverence and effortless curses (“Heavenly Bastard in the Sky”) sold me. Fenfang is the sort of person who acts on gut instinct, risks be damned. For a month, she squats in a house previously occupied by a mother and daughter whose deaths Fenfang witnessed on her first day in the city. Yeah. If you ever grew up in a small town, dreaming of and fearing city life, Fenfang is the rebel for you.

snow crash stephensonY.T. from Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson: And if I had to live in Snow Crash’s anarchic future America, where corporations and the Mafia rule, and the streets may as well be prison yards, oh, and I was trying to help save the world from a cyber virus that turns everyone who plugs into the Metaverse into a cultist zombie, I would want to be Y.T. Fifteen-year-old “young, fast, and female” Y.T. who fulfills her courier duties on a skateboard, “pooned” to taxis and trucks, who beguiles a bad-guy biker and murderous harpoon expert to infiltrate enemy lines, and who worries about her mother. She’s obviously gung ho for enlistment in an intelligence theft mission. You would probably have a heart attack if she was your daughter, but Y.T. isn’t all edge–she does save a Rat Thing (think dog, but not really) from peril. Being a young rebel doesn’t necessarily make you a bad kid.

the golden compassLyra Belacqua from The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman: The movie was awful but the Lyra I met in His Dark Materials #1 was everything. I have a wild child soft spot as I was feral and fearless before self-awareness set in. Lyra is as sneaky and obstinate as they come, but she’s also fiercely loyal and a natural protector. What I most admire about this particular rebel is that, in a genre sometimes bogged down with wishy-washy, heartsick young characters, Lyra comes into the picture with a strong sense of self and a no-nonsense attitude. Some kids just got it.

I guess instead of reading about the lives of rebels you could actually enact some daring-do off the page. If that’s your thing. But first, who’s your favorite young rebel of fiction?

September Blogathon Challenge Accepted


I’m participating in a blogging challenge with some of my fellow Book Rioters this month! The idea began with Sarah S. Davis of Broke By Books, and the point is to challenge ourselves to be consistent bloggers by holding each other accountable to our individual goals.

My goal is to post original content at least once a week, whether vlog, art, or your standard talky blog entry. I’ll also be reposting some of my Book Riot posts, but those won’t count towards my goal–that’s just extra.

And if you’re looking for more bookish blogs to follow, check out these Rioters who are on the struggle with me this month: