Frankly, this summer was the first time in a long time that I picked up reading for pleasure again. When you’re in college there just never seems to be enough time because you’re trying to read everything that’s been assigned. But, thanks to my frequent trips on the New York subway necessitating that I find something to pass wifi free time, I came back to my old book addiction. I would like to say I was always carrying a physical book because that’s a more romantic notion, right? We love to think of caressing the pages of worn and cared for books. But, for convenience sake, I didn’t do that either. When you’re on a subway, you want no extra weight on you and nothing taking up space that doesn’t need to be filled. eBooks are the way to go on the subway since all you have to do is load them onto your phone (we all always have that on us anyway).
To get to the real bread and butter of this post, let’s talk about science-fiction, currently my favorite genre. I had a moment with it this summer, especially with Ernest Cline. If you haven’t started reading Ernest Cline books you should find one now.
I started with Armada, which is actually not how most people come to know Cline. Ready Player One, his first book (to be clear, these have similar themes but are not a part of a series), has gotten a ton of attention from the likes of the New York Times. I, however, accidentally discovered a love for Cline without realizing how much attention he’d gotten. I loved the cover of Armada and was attracted to it at a random Barnes & Noble.
I’ll just confess that I am and always have been a bit of a nerd. Cline’s books definitely play into a “geek” culture that the author himself proudly says he’s a part of. Cline even has a DeLorean (if you don’t know what that is check out Back to the Future). At any rate, in both of Cline’s books his writing shows a depth of knowledge and thought concerning the geek culture. I loved Pokemon as a kid and played a lot of video games. But, I’m not that into video games now and I still loved these books. They’re simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic. I learned random things about 80s video games (in Ready Player One especially) I never thought I would be so eager to read. Now, this is probably because I truly was sucked into the plot. I think the litmus test for the quality of a book is how immersed in the author’s world I am. With great books, I’ve literally felt as though I was the main character even if that character had nothing in common with me. Both Armada and Ready Player One center around male leads in high school who are intense gamers with family issues. Their personalities are highly relatable and I found it easy to empathize with them. Cline does a superb job of ensuring that the books are addictive. It is easy for authors to be predictable or too cheesy (I’m not saying cheesy isn’t good sometimes, but still) but Cline manages to avoid these issues for the most part. If you’re remotely geeky, love sci-fi, or just want an escape from life these books will do the trick. My personal favorite of the two was Armada. In my opinion, it has the more original plot. However, with both of these books you can’t go wrong.
My next book is simply not practical, but was worth the effort to read so it still needs to be included. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is a book that is over 900 pages long. I’ve always been an avid reader and it still took me many, many subway rides to finish this one. I struggle to write out concisely what exactly this book is about. It covers everything from the history of World War II focusing on Southeast Asia to tech and digital currency to love to (as might be imagined by the name) cryptology. The book doesn’t always move as quickly as you want it to, but it gets there and manages to get you invested in the intricate story along the way. If you’ve ever read The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson this book is a similar level of convolutedness. Part of the fun is the challenge something of this sizeable with so many sub-plots weaving around and together.
Something a bit lighter, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is another book I enjoyed. If you were a Harry Potter fan, this more adult magical fiction will suit your tastes. In saying adult, I don’t mean it’s x-rated, rather it doesn’t spare the reader the painful details of the antagonists’ fun. That being said, it’s not overly gory either. There’s a balance to the book that’s refreshing and a female character I loved who holds her own in the midst of a chaotic environment. If you are into the fantasy genre and want a relatively fast read, full of action, this book is a solid bet.
Dune by Frank Herbert is a classic epic sci-fi novel. It was originally published in 1965 in two installments in a magazine. I’ve only read the original book, but there is a significant amount of other literature written both by the original author and his son about the world found in Dune. We start of following a young man named Paul who is 15. This book takes you through his life, but that’s an oversimplification of its focus. Ultimately, this book is a space bible. That sounds odd, but as someone who was raised in the church, I know what religious texts sound like. It’s was interesting to approach a book as fictional, only to recognize how similar it sounds to religious texts. Dune gives you all quirks of sci-fi one could want and, yet, seemingly harkens back to medieval times. There is no shortage of action to keep you on your toes and there is a constant sense of apprehensive thrill as Paul’s story unfurls.
These books are perfect for sweater weather reading as we head into fall! Escapism is real and these books can help you out with that. They’re all fairly easy to find online and, if you prefer the physical copies, in store. Some of the books are more of an investment than others but all are worthy of a read. Hope you enjoyed this post! Make sure to check out my Instagram @heynessalane.