BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS: Novels That Celebrate the Power of Fiction

 

  • The End of your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe 

“We’re all in the end-of-your-life book-club, whether we acknowledge it or not; each book we read may well be the last, each conversation the final one.”

An inspirational memoir of a mother and son and the shared love for reading. “What are you reading?” is the question Will asks his mother, sitting in a hospital ward, days after finding out that she has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The pair engage in deeply personal and heart rending conversations over the two years that follow.

“Reading isn’t the opposite of doing, it’s the opposite of dying.”

Their mutual passion for reading and the books that they read become the heart of their dialogue. This moving and emotional novel thematically explores the powerful influence of books and the magical cure that fiction can bring in times of discomfort and uncertainty. Will and his mother talk about books that range from classics to mystery, poetry and spirituality. The End of Your Life Book Club is a profoundly  moving novel that is not necessarily depressing, despite the themes of anxiety, loss and death.


When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page. – Book Description



“Books are the most powerful tool in the human arsenal, that reading all kinds of books, in whatever format you choose – electronic (even though that wasn’t for her) or printed, or audio – is the grandest entertainment, and also is how you take part in human conversation.”

This book is much loved among our readers and is highly recommended for fans of realistic, contemporary and literary fiction.

‘A tender, moving and honest portrayal of the precious relationship between a mother and son- an ode to that beautiful thing called love.” – Cecilia Ahern

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  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This life-changing literary fiction novel by #1 Bestselling author Markus Zusak is bound to remain etched in our readers’ minds long after they read it. The Book Thief explores the life of Liesel Meminger and how far she goes to steal books to quench her passion for reading. She transforms the lives around her with the books she reads and is the ideal portrayal of courage and bravery during the dreadful times of the Holocaust.

Another feature that sets this book apart is that it is narrated by Death- the omnicient narrator who tells us the story of  the life of Liesel Meminger and her new found family.

“He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world.

She was the book thief without the words.

Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”


 

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. – Book Description

 

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  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

A delightful, bittersweet tale about the distance one man will travel for the sake of love and friendship.


 

The Little Paris Bookshop- Nina George Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. – Book Description

 


Yet another bestselling novel on the power of books. The Little Paris Bookshop shows the therapeutic influence of reading a good book. The novel also gives us a glimpse of French culture, people and literature as never observed before.

This is an ideal read for readers of any age- the perfect book to immerse yourself in, owing to its beautifully written narrative and memorable characters.

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  • What We See When We Read By  Peter Mendelsund 

A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the What We See When We Read By PETER MENDELSUNDphenomenology of reading—how we visualize images from reading works of literature.

What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? The collection of fragmented images on a page—a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so—and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved—or reviled—literary figures. In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf’s Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature—he considers himself first and foremost as a reader—into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading. – Book Description


 

Praise:

“A deconstruction of the visual experience of reading, a heady mixture of philosophy and neuropsychology. . . . Peter Mendelsund is astonishingly good at what he does.” —The Rumpus

“Amazing. . . . Sparkling with verbal as well as visual wit and the personable exhilaration of one of the best conversations you’ve ever had, What We See When We Read opens one’s eyes to that special brand of blindness which makes the vividness of fiction possible. It reads as if the ghost of Italo Calvino audited Vladimir Nabokov’s literature class and wrote his final paper with the help of Alvin Lustig and the Radiolab guys.” —Chris Ware, author of Building Stories

“Intriguing. . . . A truly remarkable book.” —Coolhunting.com
 
“A delightful treat for the avid reader. . . . [A] topsy-turvily illustrated marvel. . . . [Mendelsund] maps the dreamscape of reading to show us how the mirage dissolves under close scrutiny but its memory still burns brilliant. What a tangible magic books are!” —Shelf Awareness


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If I Stay by Gayle Forman

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”

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If I Stay is a novel that portrays the inevitability of events that take place in our lives and the dilemma of choosing between life and death. The story revolves around seventeen year-old Mia Hall who has an out-of-body experience, whilst in a coma following a tragic car accident that costs the lives of her parents and little brother.

For young Mia, the choice is not so clear-cut. She is torn between choosing to soldier through the recovery process and continue life with her grandparents and love of her life, Adam or join her parents and brother who have already crossed over. The haunting theme of the importance of choice as well as life and death are explored thematically in the novel. Despite the despondent themes, Forman also brings out the beautiful stories that orbit around the lives of Mia and her friends and family through a paralleled narrative style.

If I Stay is primarily a young-adult fiction novel that is certainly laced with a gripping storyline that talks about the power of love, the importance of family and most of all, the inevitability of making choices.

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#ChaptersTeenReads

‘Good Reads’ readers have voted some of our picks as the best young adult reads of all time. Read and find out why these books are important to teens.

Brown Girl

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – For ages 10-14. – This is a novel in verse; a fictionalised memoir of a young girl. A masterpiece written for young children. Themes – Family, importance of family, love, loyalty, compassion, emotional, physical and spiritual support. Background – American racial history.

Awards

·         2010-2019->National Book Awards->Young People’s Literature Winners

·         2011-2020 Coretta Scott King Author Award

·         2011-2020->Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Books->Nonfiction

·         2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature Finalists

·         2014 National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature

·         2014 National Book Award Winners

·         2014 National Book Awards- All Finalists

·         2014 National Book Awards- Young People’s Literature Finalist

·         2015 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Books

·         2015 Coretta Scott King Award Winners

·         2015 E. B. White Read Aloud Award Middle Reader Finalists

·         2015 E. B. White Read Aloud Award Winners

·         2015 Newbery Honor Books

·         2015 Sibert Honor Books

·         African American Poetry – Kids

·         African American Women – Kids Biography

·         African American Writers – Kids Biography

·         African Americans – General – Kids Biography

·         New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2014

·         New York Times Notable Middle Grade Books of 2014

·         Publishers Weekly’s Best Middle Grade Books of 2014

·         Time Magazine’s Top 10 YA Books of 2014

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. 

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

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Ever - Copy - Copy

If I Ever Get Out Of Here by Eric Gansworth – For ages 12-15.  Themes – Teen popularity, identities, trust, barriers, friendship, poverty and rock & roll.

Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?

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Princess X

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest- For ages 12-17. Themes –  Social class, homelessness & friendship. Touches on gender and sexism but excludes romance. The book is illustrated with comics and integrates technology as a theme to appeal to teens.

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.
Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.
Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.
Princess X?
When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon—her best friend, Libby, who lives.

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Truth

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby. For ages 14 +. Themes – Families, easy truths, hard truths and those best left unsaid.

Synopsis

This was going to be the year Normandy Pale came into her own. The year she emerged from her older sister’s shadow—and Kiera, who became a best-selling graphic novelist before she even graduated from high school, casts a long one. But it hasn’t worked out that way, not quite. So Normandy turns to her art and writing, and the “truth commission” she and her friends have started to find out the secrets at their school. It’s a great idea, as far as it goes—until it leads straight back to Kiera, who has been hiding some pretty serious truths of her own. Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission: A story about easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.

“Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission knocked my socks off. You should read it!”—Gayle Forman, best-selling author of If I Stay

“Susan Juby is a marvel. Wise, witty, and full of heart, her writing draws you in and won’t let go. And just when you think it can’t get any better, it does.”—Meg Cabot

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wind

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba. For ages 11-17. Themes – The power of dreams, believing in them and overcoming obstacles. Most importantly expanding the original dream beyond boundaries.

Malawi is a country battling AIDS, drought and famine, and in 2002, a season of floods, followed by the most severe famine in fifty years, brought it to its knees. Like the majority of the population, William’s family were farmers. They were totally reliant of the maize crop. By the end of 2001, after many lean and difficult years, there was no more crop. They were running out of food – had nothing to sell – and had months until they would be able to harvest their crop again.

He picked up a book about energy, with a picture of a wind turbine on the front cover. Fascinated by science and electricity, but knowing little more about the technology, William decided to build his own. Ridiculed by those around him, and exhausted from his work in the fields every day, and using nothing more than bits of scrap metal, old bicycle parts and wood from the blue gum tree, he slowly built his very own windmill.

This windmill has changed the world in which William and his family live. Only 2 per cent of Malawi has electricity; William’s windmill now powers the lightbulbs and radio for his compound. He has since built more windmills for his school and his village.

When news of William’s invention spread, people from across the globe offered to help him. Soon he was re-enrolled in college and travelling to America to visit wind farms. This is his incredible story.

William’s dream is that other African’s will learn to help themselves – one windmill and one light bulb at a time – and that maybe one day they will be able to power their own computers, and use the internet, and see for themselves how his life has changed after picking up that book in the library.

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Ostrich

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray. For ages 15 + (Not suitable for younger readers.) Themes of death, friendship and how friendship can help to cope. Mature content.

Synopsis

‘It’s not really kidnapping, is it? He’d have to be alive for it to be proper kidnapping.’

Kenny, Sim and Blake are about to embark on a remarkable journey of friendship. Stealing the urn containing the ashes of their best friend Ross, they set out from Cleethorpes on the east coast to travel the 261 miles to the tiny hamlet of Ross in Dumfries and Galloway. After a depressing and dispiriting funeral they feel taking Ross to Ross will be a fitting memorial for a 15 year-old boy who changed all their lives through his friendship. Little do they realise just how much Ross can still affect life for them even though he’s now dead.

Drawing on personal experience Keith Gray has written an extraordinary novel about friendship, loss and suicide, and about the good things that may be waiting just out of sight around the corner . . .

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Green Heist  

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson – For ages 10-14. Themes –  Independence, autonomy, problems of middle school, elections, corruption & corruption of money. Touches on racism.

Synopsis

Jackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

Saving the school — one con at a time. (And in paperback!)

“A political heist page-turner set in middle school? Is that even possible? Varian Johnson shows us how it’s done.” – Gordon Korman, author of SWINDLE

“Do yourself a favor and start reading immediately.” – Rebecca Stead, author of WHEN YOU REACH ME

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Amber 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. For ages 14 – 17. Themes – Identity and the mask a person wears in public. The emotions behind those masks whether the wearer can ever let it go? Similarly can a person let go of their past? How far would you go for family, for freedom, for power and for love?

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

Synopsis
LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

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Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir. For ages 15+. Themes – Isolation, fear, sacrifice, perseverance, science, man vs nature, friendship and home.

Synopsis

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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Finish this book

 

Finish This Book by Keri Smith – For ages 13 +. Themes – To be created by reader. Non – traditional methods of exploration and writing. Art, craft & storytelling.

About this book and others in the series

From the author of Wreck This Journal, a collaborative creative journey where you complete the book

Dear Reader,

One dark and stormy night, author Keri Smith found some strange scattered pages abandoned in a park. She collected and assembled them, trying to solve the mystery of this unexpected discovery, and now she’s passing the task on to you, her readers.

Your mission is to become the new author of this work. You will continue the research and provide the content. In order to complete the task, you will have to undergo some secret intelligence training, which is included in this volume. Since no one knows what lies ahead, please proceed with caution, but know…this book does not exist without you.

Yours truly,

Keri Smith

Praise

“Keri Smith may well be the self-help guru this DIY generation deserves.”
Believer magazine

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