Hot Reads, Zeke! – 10 Books to Grab Now

As a teacher and a writer, I cannot tell you how often people ask me:

“Are you reading anything good right now?”

People want to read and they often struggle to branch off from a series they liked. Fans of Hunger Games always like to read…. the Hunger Games. We have this tendency to re-read, when there are thousands of new books out there! So here is a list of great books I’ve read (and some that I’ve just heard of) that I think will fit the interests of readers that have liked some of the best selling books over the past 10 years.

1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown- A character living in the caves of Mars that thinks the surface isn’t habitable, but little does he know… This book was suggested to me by Keith Dupuis. He described it saying, “You want to get mad at it for being like Hunger Games, but it’s better than Hunger Games.”

Suggested for readers of: The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.

2. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie- A very gritty fantasy world that is incredibly character-driven. The story of impending war is told from multiple perspectives and we center on the ominous figure of Logen Ninefingers, whose luck seems to be running out. Like Game of Thrones, this fantasy realm has magic as an almost dying art. Very few people are a part of the world that possesses magic and it allows for real, authentic characters and their decisions toward good and bad to be central.

Suggested for readers of: A Song of Ice and Fire, Lord of the Rings, etc.

3. The Daedalus Incident by Mike Martinez- I wrote a blog post about this not too long ago. It’s a wonderful book. Combining science fiction and a sort of steampunk-ish adventure aboard sailboats cruising space. Oh, and Benjamin Franklin has been invited. Highly suggest this for readers of science fiction!

4. The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough- 23rd century Earth has centered around the city of Darwin after a mysterious, alien plague has transformed the rest of the population into, for lack of a better word, zombies. A space elevator (also installed by mysterious alien forces) is the rally point for all of civilization. I’ve just begun reading this story, but I can already tell its going to be great. The action moves quickly, the world is absolutely fascinating, and there are mysteries that we are already unfolding at the start of the story. Wonderful stuff.

5. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik- I stumbled upon this series as I did some research on dragons. Imagine the Napoleonic Wars… but with an air force of dragons. The story follows a naval commander that captures a dragon egg from an enemy ship. His adventures with the hatched dragon are worth the read.

Suggested for readers who like: Harry Potter, naval books, historical accounts, etc.

6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova- The book that made me fall in love with Europe! A young girl adventures with her father through modern Europe… and a dark history haunted by the ghost of Vlad Tepes, also known as “Dracula”.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green- A name that a lot of folks know these days, but if your kids have trouble getting into reading, John Green provides plenty of entertainment that will rope them in. His characters are realistic, have authentic high-school voices, and don’t shy away form actual problems.

8. The Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson- An obvious name in fantasy, but too few people actually know his work. If you’re into the epic fantasies that focus on war-torn and war-impending colonies, this is the book for you. I loved Erikson because his learning curve is STEEP and his magical system rocks. Not to mention his characters all feel a little larger than life. Gripping read… I didn’t hit the brakes until the 6th book, when I was ready for other styles and genres.

9. “Insomnia” a short story by Stuart Dybek – Have you ever seen the famous diner painting called Nighthawks by Edwin Hopper? Well, Dybek brings it to life in his stunning, fluid prose. We explore the thin line between the waking and dreaming world, as well as the thin line between connection and disconnection in the world we live in. We need more writers like Dybek being taught in our schools.

10. “China Men” by Maxine Hong Kingston- Again, a name that is growing in popularity and even in use in schools. I recently discovered someone at my school is teaching one of her other memoir’s. She does a wonderful job of blending the stories of her childhood with fictional tales and mythical tales. Kingston successfully demolishes our view of immigration and the difficulties that come with a family moving to America.

Hope you enjoyed the list! Please share with others!

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