Right now I’m working at a bookstore. And we’re putting up our staff picks and why we picked them. So I thought, why not do that for you guys? After all, both geeks and nerds love books! Books are the source of some of the biggest fandoms out there.
So I’ve created this list of my favourite books just for you. That means that these are not the greatest books of all time. It’s all personal opinion. So you won’t be seeing major fandom books like Twilight (which I will never read) or Harry Potter (which is really only an okay series in my opinion).
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
This is my favourite book of all time and I don’t even care about dinosaurs. I do love science and this is pretty heavy in pseudo-science, from Ian Malcolm’s chaos theory to how Henry Wu created the dinosaurs. Now, I don’t know much about chaos theory but there’s some pretty interesting genetic mumbo jumbo in there. Like, you are so not getting viable dino DNA from fossilized mosquitos but A, G, T and C are real DNA bases. Yet it all feels like it could be real science talk if you’re not aware of what the impossibilities are. Also, the book was written in the 80’s, before we knew some dinosaurs had feathers. So real life science has made the book more unlikely.
But more than that it’s the characters and how they respond to this crazy action adventure movie that they’ve fallen into. I won’t go into a whole Jurassic Park rant so instead I’ll just talk about one of my favourite characters, Ellie Sattler. Oh my god, Ellie! Has there ever been a better female character than Ellie? She’s smart, she’s hot, she’s totally down for seeing some dinos. And she’s brave and strong and kind. She deliberately gets the raptors to chase her because they need to divert the raptors attention. At one point she has to jump off a building and into a swimming pool and she just does. Partly it’s due to adrenaline and partly it’s due to the fact that if she doesn’t a raptor will eat her but it’s also because she trusts herself to make the landing.
I also love the fact that there’s no romance between her and Grant. In the movie there’re hints of sexual tension. In the book Ellie is still a grad student and Grant is her supervisor. They have so much respect for each other and there’s a lot of admiration. But there’s no romance. They are friends. And I love that. When I think of truly strong, admirable female character it’s always Ellie.
But brilliant Grant, pessimistic Malcolm, oddly bad ass lawyer man Gennaro and drunk-yet-totally-right Muldoon are amazing too. Then there’s Hammond who is just so is evil. Seriously, why was he such a sweetie pie in the movie? Hammond is 100% pure asshole.
Oh. And there’s a motherfucking T-Rex.
- Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
When you read the first couple of volumes of Fruits Basket you’re going to think “oh, this is going to be such a cute series.” You would be terribly, horribly wrong. Fruits Basket is the story of high school girl Tohru Honda. Her mother has recently died, her father has been dead for years and all of her relatives (except for Grandpa Honda) don’t care for her. She’s living in a tent when a landslide takes it out and she ends up living with her super popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his cousin Shigure. She soon meets another Sohma cousin, Kyo, and then discovers that they are all cursed. They turn into animals when hugged by members of the opposite sex. Hijinks ensue.
Cute enough. It is a girl’s manga after all. But this series will wreck you. Tohru spends most of the series in mourning but hiding it because she wants to protect and eventually break the curse on the Sohma family. Kyo is going to be locked away forever when he graduates high school because he’s cursed with the spirit of the hated cat and Yuki is incredibly distant as he has no friends and his parents don’t love him. Enter a head of the family that can do whatever he wants with no consequences, including pushing a girl out of a window. Add to the mix suicide, mental abuse, physical abuse, parental abandonment and a whole pile of emotionally crippled teenage boys and you get a story about a group of people who simply want to make some decisions of their own. And then there’s sweet Tohru who’s doing her best to see everyone’s side of the story and to heal what emotional wounds she can.
Fruits Basket is the ultimate love story. There are romantic plots in there but it’s really a story about learning to love oneself and respect the people around you. It’s a tale of moving on and finding your own path even if you have to leave the things you knew or once believed in behind. For me, Fruits Basket is a solid story. But for anyone who’s having a shitty life right now, it’s a story that shows that things can get better. It’s not always easy and sometimes you get hurt along the way but you can have a good ending.
- The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
This one is a Batman title. If you’ve been reading my blogs since the beginning (especially this one) then you know that I am a huge Batman fan. I live and breathe Batman. And it is my personal opinion that The Long Halloween is the perfect introduction for anyone thinking of reading a Batman title. Firstly, it’s self contained. Some collections have certain story elements unexplained because those elements were introduced in a different story line. This is not the case. Everything you need to know is in the Long Halloween. Secondly, it has all the major characters: Batman, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Joker, the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter and Two Face. It also has the other side of the Batman crime world equation: the mob families. Batman was never just the Arkham crazies. It was also the Falcon and Marconi families. The Long Halloween takes place in the early days of Batman’s career so characters like Robin and Harley Quinn aren’t in it. Every holiday on the calendar has a major crime happen. So the crime in April is on April Fool’s Day, the crime in February is on Valentine’s, etc. But it’s not that super lame, not well known Calendar Man organising these crimes (a fact that Calendar Man is not too pleased with).
So we get to see all the Rogue Gallery in action as well as the mob. Selina is a main character and we see her motivations and goals as well. But the best part is that it’s a mystery. Batman started out in Detective Comics. So it’s good to see him try to figure out what’s going on.
- Green Angel by Alice Hoffman
A very simple, short story for teens that works for adults too. This story is a metaphor for the events of 911. Terrorists have destroyed the city and Green must learn to live without her family. She was the one left behind to take care of the farm while her parents and little sister went to sell wares in the city. Green gets ashes in her eyes from the fire but refuses to cry so she loses most of her vision. She cuts off all of her hair, sews thorns into her clothes and covers herself in tattoos.
Green Angel is the story of a girl learning to find herself again after losing everything she thought she was.
It’s a beautifully written, almost poetic, story. It doesn’t come right out and say it’s a 911 story and there are supernatural elements in it. And you can read it within an hour if you don’t have time for a longer story but want something of substance.
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I’ve read all of Neil’s adult fiction and American Gods is my favourite. It follows Shadow as he meets various gods- some old, some modern- that want his help regaining their formal status. Gods lose power once people stop believing in them after all.
I can’t say too much about this. It’s brilliantly written and has many layers to it. It’s not a quick read though. I personally love mythology (check out my piece on why I cosplay Loki) so that’s probably the major reason why I love American Gods more than Neverwhere or Coraline.
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
This one is a non-fiction book! Jenny is entertaining, crazy and downright devastating at times. We see her life growing up with a father whose main hobbies are taxidermy and recuing wild bob cats, to being a very socially awkward adult, to going on a women’s retreat and to living through the pain of multiple miscarriages. Jenny suffers from anxiety and depression and yet she tackles everything in her life with hilarity. This book will make you laugh and cry. And maybe you’ll find something you relate to in here whether it’s the suffering that comes with anxiety or, in my case, having a wild man for a dad. Seriously. My dad has never done taxidermy and he takes in stray cats instead of bob cats but he’s just as much a weirdo as Jenny’s father.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Do I need to explain the plot of this? Charles is a nobleman from France during the French revolution that runs away to England. There he meets his future wife as well as the English lawyer Sydney, who has the same face as Charles. Charles and the wife build a life together. Charles and the wife have to go back to France. Charles is a nobleman from France during the French revolution. I think you can figure out the rest.
What I love most about A Tale of Two Cities is how bitter and depressed Sydney is and yet he’s so incredibly generous and kind under all the bluster. And I think that makes three books now that feature people who suffer from depression now.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
(i) Gimli and Legolas going from worse enemies to bffs
(ii) Book Three. Merry lying in Pippin’s arms and asking if he’s going to die
(iii) Merry and Pippin in all the books. Especially in book one where they form a friendship with Boromir
(iv) Tom Fucking Bombadil