In Need of Standalones

There once was a time in which I only tried to find standalone novels to read. I didn’t want to be sucked into a long series that would take forever to get through.

At some point that philosophy went right out the window. Though I do currently have quite a few standalone novels, I’m looking for more. Why? Because I don’t think it’s necessary for an author to devote multiple books to the same character in order to write quality stories.

I think a good mix of standalone and series books helps equalize one’s reading. So tell me, tell me! No genre or author limitations.

Five Books I Recommended to a Non-Reader

This was my video topic for this week, but I decided that I’d better express myself through a written post.

I typically don’t recommend books. It doesn’t matter who is asking or why, but I’ve made exceptions to my rule over the last couple of years. The following is the most recent example.

Earlier this week a friend of mine told me he wanted to start reading in an effort to adopt more healthy habits. With all the things one can do with free time, I think reading would definitely qualify as a healthy habit. What did I do when he told me this? I took him to Half Price Books, of course! Not kidding.

The first thing I did when we reached the store was ask him what he enjoys reading. His response was anything that keeps his attention, he’s open to any topic. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation, I referred back to my own reading history. Kind of like your Google history in books. I came up with five books to tell him about.

Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell

No matter your position on war or the military, I’m well aware that nonfiction war books are not for everyone. But to say this book is only about war would be a disservice to Marcus Luttrell and every other man who died during the operation to save him and his fellow Navy SEALs. This book is about faith, family, survival, life and death, and yes, war. Most people living today will never know what it means to trust another person with your life and have them entrust you with theirs. The men described in this book are the best the United States has to offer, and their story is one to remember.

Unstoppable – Bill Nye

I’ve read a few hundred books during my lifetime, and this one (like I said here) is easily the best book I’ve read. It’s science. Another type of book that simply isn’t for everyone. But this book isn’t written for scientists. That would defeat the entire purpose. The book takes on climate change, one of those topics that people seem to want to give up on or kick down the road. But not Bill Nye, nope. The reason this book holds so much weight with me is because of the optimism. Bill Nye is part of the generation currently in power. It’s his generation that has moved technology further than ever before, but it’s this same generation that has gotten us to this point in the climate change debate. This isn’t about blame, it’s about what’s happened. The beauty of this book is that Bill Nye recognizes who will ultimately enact the necessary changes to really combat climate change and begin the the process of preserving our planet for generations to come. Millennials. That group of young adults who gets blamed for things completely out of their control. It’s that same group of young people who are more aware of current issues than just about any generation of people who have come before them. Some would say the issues aren’t as important as the ones previous generations have had to tackle, but to say this is to once again belittle the issues Millennials face today. Humans are imperfect, but we have the ability to preserve this beautiful world we have. I believe history will hold Millennials in particularly high regard when humans look back at who decided enough was enough and that the issue of climate change is not something to leave for others to deal with.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Atticus Finch. I can go on and on about Atticus Finch. I’ll be short and simple. I recommended this book because even when everyone around you is guilty of buying into society’s backward and wrong beliefs, one person can stand up for what’s right and what’s true to the human spirit. That’s what I believe Atticus did in this book, and it’s an idea still relevant after nearly 60 years in print.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

With social media today we’re able to get a glimpse into the lives of persecuted individuals. Anne Frank’s diary is more than just a glimpse. It’s her life. Now that I’m sitting here writing this I realize that her diary is her version of a blog or Facebook account. Through her words we know what a young girl and her family endured during humanity’s darkest hour. She gives us an idea of what it means to be unwanted, untouchable, and hated. She shows us that we always have the ability to be kind, even when facing the worst of circumstances. Another book that has never lost its relevance.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Society has expectations for just about everyone. It’s up to the individual person and the people they’re surrounded by to stick to what they’re supposed to be doing or to exceed every expectation imaginable. That’s what this book is about. And that’s why I recommended it. In this world the districts are expected to contribute to the welfare of the Capitol by maintaining the status quo and doing as previous generations have done. There’s really no avenue for any individuality. Katniss turns the whole thing upside down. She proved that no matter what society expects of you, you can use your voice to accomplish and change just about anything.

An honorable mention was Elie Wiesel’s Night.

I won’t tell you which book he ultimately decided to buy, but he did buy one.

So those are the books I recommended to an admitted non-reader. I took several minutes to describe the message I took away from each one. This wasn’t a planned thing and I did the whole thing in real time, but I think the books I mentioned shed light on the topics and issues important to me. Every one of these is a notch above their counterparts in my eyes.

Sorry for the LONG post! Have you ever had to suddenly recommend books and felt it was more important than a typical recommendation? What do you think of the books I came up with?

The White House is Being Swamped…With Books

See what I did there?

President Trump has more than his fair share of critics. And one group is inundating the new president with books. I said I’d write a letter to him with some book recommendations, but why write a letter recommending books when I can just send them!?

So I’ll do it. I’ll send a handful of books with short notes off to the White House. The odds of him ever seeing the books or the notes are incredibly unlikely, but I think it’s worth the few dollars it’ll cost me. It isn’t much different from calling your representative or senator. You won’t have them on the other end of the line, but your message will be heard by someone.

I encourage everyone to grab a book, write an inscription, and send it off to the White House. I know for certain I’ll be sending Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a copy of the US Constitution.

What Should President Trump be Reading?

I’m no presidential scholar, but I can’t think of any president who was more literary-minded than President Obama. It’s a bit of a far cry from Trump. President Obama quoted Atticus Finch in his farewell address. But it appears more likely with each passing day that Trump has no desire to be friendly toward the arts.

So I wanted to do something different today. Y’all know we can write letters to the president. I want book recommendations. I want y’all to tell me what you would recommend that President Trump read as he embarks on his journey as President. ANY book. I plan on sending a letter to the White House with every recommendation.

I’ll start. I’ll recommend Night by Elie Wiesel. To show him that nothing good comes from persecuting a group of people. What would you recommend to President Trump?

Everyone Thinks They Know What you Want to Read

As readers we are constantly bombarded with book recommendations. Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Goodreads. PEOPLE. That random guy in the bookstore who saw you glancing at that book on President Reagan. Book bloggers. The list never ends.

And now there’s a new player in the game. Shelfjoy. Which is so pointless it makes me laugh. Shelfjoy is absolutely no different than any other recommendation you’ve ever gotten. It recommends books based on topics you’ve already shown an interest in. Which is exactly what every other site or person does because obviously if you’re interested in a particular title, then you MUST be interested in what I think is “similar”.

They claim every book is hand-curated, but my understanding is it amounts to a bunch of lists on different topics. It isn’t creative. It isn’t groundbreaking. And it isn’t new. And it’s only available on Facebook Messenger, so there’s that. I think you can send them a message and they reply with a book for you to read. How grand. 

I’m convinced every book recommendation is someone somewhere trying to infiltrate my brain. What do you think?

Get Away From Me With Your Stupid Recommendations!

This week Amazon decided to use its Amazon books Twitter account to give out recommendations for Father’s Day. They claimed to give out the recommendations based on the information people gave them. But it’s stupid.

One guy said he’s a fan of sci-fi and they reommended some random sci fi title from that. Another guy said he wants cheap books. They recommended a $0.99 title on Kindle. No. Just no.

Get away from me with that nonsense. Thankfully, they’re done now. I think.

On Reading Recommendations…Again

Any regular reader of mine knows my position on recommending books. I don’t do it. For a number of reasons. But I work in a bookstore. You wouldn’t believe how many people make the trip without knowing what they’re looking for.

I’ve recommended some of my favorite series. I’ve recommended authors I’m only slightly familiar with. And I’ve recommended books I’ve never read before. It’s a little funny when I think about it. But I’ve done it. And now I’ve realized that I embrace the opportunity to directly influence the reading of another person. It’s always interesting to have someone tell you what they like and be able to at least give them a recommendation. They may hate it. They may not buy the book. Or they may end up loving it and returning to your store for more.

I’ll still never recommend books on here. But whenever someone asks for a recommendation at my store, well I may jump at the chance.