Today, I thought I'd show you the contents of my bookshelf, just to give you some idea of my reading tastes. I am possibly the most voracious reader of all time. I haven't gotten into adult fiction yet, and there are some genres and styles I'm less into, but I'm likely to read just about anything I can get my hands on, especially in the YA sector.
Because of my voracious appetite, I have found that I don't have the money or shelf space to feed this habit. Therefore, libraries and I are very well-acquainted. But of course, I want books of my own! What reader doesn't? So when it comes to buying books, I'm picky. I only request to get a book if I honestly see some real exceptional merit in it, and if it doesn't hold up, I get rid of it. Therefore, my bookshelf is very well-maintained.
So it's time for the master tour. Keep in mind, these contents change, often. Twice a year at the least. Books are organized alphabetically by author's first name. That'll probably change too.
This is going to be a long post. Hold your horses and hang onto your hats. *Check out an updated tour from January 2017 here.*
So we're going to do this half a shelf at a time. Let's bring up the first half-shelf.
OK, so first off we've got the Associated Press Stylebook. That is a relic of my copy editing job at The Paw Print, the ASU school paper. Seeing as I plan to continue in copyediting, I figured I'd keep the copy. Now that I think about it, I don't know if I was supposed to keep it. I just never... asked and didn't... think.... Um.... moving on.
After that is Beastly by Alex Flynn, who is famous for her modern fairytale retellings. Beastly is a really good modern Beauty and the Beast, made into a movie earlier. The movie wasn't as good as the book. The book is awesome.
Then we've got five of the books from the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, a series about a spy boy named Alex Rider working for MI6 (the British version of the CIA). There are nine books total. I like the series a lot (I went through a teenage spy reading phrase), especially for the brilliant maneuvers pulled off by Alex and the cool spy gear. I don't own them all because... well, I've read them all. I wanted to own at least a few, but I'm not dying for the whole series, and the middle ones, some of them, were dark enough that I'm slightly leery of them. I've got the first three and last two there on my shelf. My favorite is the second, Point Blank.
After that is the Anthony Horowitz series I'm really into, even more than Alex Rider, the Gatekeepers. I've got all five books there, the fifth of which just came out. The Gatekeepers is described as a children's horror series, and the first book certainly has the feel of a horror book, but the next four feel more like fantasy. It's kind of an apocalyptic series, with some mythological basis, and I really like it. I think Nightrise, the third book, is my fave of this series.
On to the second half of the first shelf.
The first book there, which you can barely see, is Dracula by Bram Stoker. I won a set of monster books from my local library last summer, which is why I have that, but I kept it because it's a classic, and pretty darn legit. I mean, the original vampire novel. Come on.
After that is the complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which I read for the first time in Hawaii the summer before sixth grade. After about the third or fourth book, I stopped understanding what was happening, but I really liked the first three, anyway. Now, being older and wiser, I understand and deeply appreciate the brilliance of the entire series, which is the type of fantasy very directly correlated into Christian beliefs. I love that stuff.
Then we have the entire Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, which, as most of you know, is an epic fantasy series centered around dragons. I liked the first book, Eragon, when it came out. When I read the second, I decided Paolini was a cheat for totally copying Star Wars. By the third, I had written Paolini off completely, mostly because I didn't like his personality and was jealous of him for being published young. I was about to get rid of my copies of the series when the last book, Inheritance, came out. I know a lot of people, including some writer friends of mine, are very ticked off by the way the series ended, but that book is what made me keep the series, and actually start respecting Paolini. I love the idea of the power of words (obviously), and his nontraditional ending made me very happy.
At the end there we have Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and the subsequent books. Peter and the Starcatchers is a fantasy-style non-cannon prequel to the Peter Pan story, and it's really, really legit. The subsequent books didn't hit me as hard, but they're pretty cool too. It's a good set of books
Moving to shelf two, the first half...
Right there up front is the last book from my Peter and the Starcatchers set, after which is the Dear America novel Voyage on the Great Titanic. Now, those of you who know my tastes know that I'm not into historical fiction. It's the one genre I don't totally devour. Generally I find it dry and uninteresting. The Dear America books have more personality, so I've read a lot of them. Voyage on the Great Titanic was given to me as a gift from a friend, and I kept it because it's a good tragic romance. I imagine it's kind of like the movie Titanic, which I haven't actually seen. Don't kill me.
Then we have the original Warriors series by Erin Hunter (who is actually a group of people). Another style I don't abide by is animal stories. They drive me nuts, and I'm not even sure why. I didn't like Dumbo, didn't like Bambi, don't like most books told from animal points of view. Warriors, somehow, is different. Part of this is probably because the animals are cats, and I love cats. Cats are like my own babies. Another reason is because Warriors is a legit epic fantasy story with cool mythology and stuff that fits the way cats actually act and think. I used to own a whole bunch of the spinoff continuation Warrior series, where are all really, good, especially the Prophecy of Three one, but I ran out of room on my bookshelf. So the original series it is.
After that is the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic A Little Princess, which I have loved loved loved for a very long time. A Little Princess is about a girl in England who goes through a lot of quite tragic occurrences resulting in extreme poverty, among other things. The power behind it is that she has one of the most fantastic imaginations ever--and that's why I love it. There is magic in this book, even though it's realistic fiction. It fascinated me right from the start.
I read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky in my AP Lit class senior year of high school, and ended up keeping the book because I really loved it. People get ticky about the ending of this one too, but I love it. I love the Christian imagery here.
Then we've got a massively old copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Honestly? I haven't read it, except for selections. See, in sixth grade, we were required to make a National History Day project, and I wanted mine to have something to do with what I love most, books and writing. So I found a book that had made a difference in history (this one), and wrote a selection of "diary entries" by Stowe. I actually won first place in the Paper Division at county level. Mom had bought me this old book so I'd have something to reference. Again, I never really read it. But it has personal meaning to me, and I especially love the fact that it used to belong to a schoolhouse. Yes, an actual old schoolhouse. There's writing by kids all over inside this book, and I love it, and therefore, it is valuable.
After that I have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. This was another book I won from the library in the monster set. Austen's Pride and Prejudice is, of course, a classic that I enjoy. I don't own it in print, but I have it on my Kindle, I believe. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies made me a little leery, what with messing with a classic and adding zombies, of all things, but when I read it, I loved it. It's totally witty and amazing.
Oh! What's that peeking over the edge there?
Oh, that's right. It's my extremely beat up, overused, and torn Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Obviously I had to have this series. All of it. J.K. Rowling is my idol, Harry Potter is my favorite series of all time, and very little creates such a fervor in me as these books. It's so beat up because of how many times I have read it in so many different places (some of which you should not take a book into). Also because my cat has really taken a fancy to the cover of that sixth book. Oh the stories I could (and have, and will) tell you about my Harry Potter series experience.
Wow, looking at it right now, those books look bad, don't they. I'm missing the front cover of the fifth book, the back cover of the fourth book, and every other cover is just generally torn and the pages are dirty and nasty... I should be more careful with my books. But I'm one of those people who believes that the more beat up your book is, the more you've enjoyed it. So....
After Harry Potter, I have Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This is actually the first book of a very different and unique fantasy romance trilogy, which is as much about the Southern setting as about the actual fantasy and romance. I've read the whole trilogy, and it's very good, but doesn't get to me enough that I feel the need to have the entire trilogy. But the first book definitely has a place on my shelf.
Then we've got my brand new copies of the entire Chanters of Tremaris trilogy by Kate Constable. I've mentioned this one a couple times recently, mostly by the first book, The Singer of All Songs. Yes, this trilogy is the first book/set of books from the YA sector that I ever read. It's an epic fantasy, a little bit different, a little bit younger on the YA side, but very good. I recently tracked it down again, and Mom bought me all the books so I could have these dear mementos of my reading progress.
To the third shelf! We're halfway there, guys.
That first section there is my writing! That's where my novels will go when they are someday published. At the moment, there's just some collections in which short works of mine were published. There's the first short piece collection I was in, in fourth grade, and then my actual NHS essay, and then a bunch of editions of our high school lit mag. I was storing these in my diary chest, which also has my photo albums, yearbooks, and scrapbooks, but... uh, I have a lot of diaries. There is literally no more room in my diary chest, for anything.
After that is four of the thirteen books from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I used to have all of those books but two, but I ran out of room. Again. So instead I kept my most favorite books out of the series: The Miserable Mill, which I like because mind control and making fun of optimists, The Austere Academy which is cool because of more characters and a school, The Hostile Hospital which is creepy but really cool somehow, and then The End, which wraps it all up and is totally and beautifully amazing. Honestly, A Series of Unfortunate Events is pure brilliance. Very different (I'm not sure what genre to say these are), but with so much brilliant wordplay and a lot of deep meaning once you get to that last book.
Then there's The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry, which begins with one of my favorite books of all time: The Giver. This is a set of four books, the last of which just came out, which began as being only loosely related, but have become a legitimate children's speculative fiction series. It's kind of in between science fiction, dystopian fiction, and fantasy, and there is so much brilliance and emotion in the books... I don't even know. The Giver by itself is one of my fave books because I love the society presented in it. It's so fascinating, and I can't even explain to you why. It just really makes you think.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is actually a classic that I didn't much enjoy when I read it as a child. Jo, who is pretty much everyone's favorite for some reason, really bugs me. So I haven't read it since. The reason I have it right now is another college student gave it to me as a thank-you gift. I'll have to reread it and see what I think now. If I'm still not feeling it, out it goes.
I first read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in my senior year of high school, and then received it as part of my monster set. Frankenstein is a lot different from what popular culture makes it. It's actually very philosophical and interesting. So I kept that one too.
Then we have two Meg Cabot books, Avalon High and Jinx. I've read a lot of Cabot's books, even though they're all pretty much silly girl YA romance. Sometimes that stuff is fun, you know? I really liked The Clique series for a while for the same reason. The reason I actually bought and kept those two Cabot books is that they're both fantasy novels combining her silly girl YA romance style with really cool fantasy concepts. Avalon High is a modern version of the King Arthur story and Jinx is about a teenage witch.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which I read in my junior year AP Lang class, is actually my favorite classic novel. I'm not so into the Puritan critique stuff going on in most of Hawthorne's works, but this one is a legitimate Romantic novel, and that is my age of writing. What I most love about this novel is the blurred line between reality and fantasy, the symbolism, and the double meanings everywhere. You can almost choose which side of the story to see, and that appeals to me, as a professional reality-avoider.
Whew. This half-shelf is taking forever.
OK, we move on into the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, which I own in entirety. This is genius right here. I've never read a better, more clever and amusing and thoughtful mythology retelling in my life. For those of you who don't know, Percy Jackson is a story series taking Greek mythology into the present day. Rick Riordan is a genius writer for this stuff. Genius. I love how his series reflects on storytelling, belief, and life as a whole.
More Percy Jackson... and then more Percy Jackson in a new way. These are the first two books in a currently in progress spinoff series, The Heroes of Olympus, which throws in a bunch of new characters on the Roman mythology side of things. Again, because of the limited shelf room, I don't know how much of a spinoff series I have room for, or how long I'll be keeping those two books. But you can bet I'll read the whole series.
Then we've got Robert Lois Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which is interesting, but not as cool as the musical. Another part of my monster set. I'm not sure how long I'll be keeping this one.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer is another of my absolute favorite books. It's a sci-fi romance, the only adult novel I've read (besides classics), and it is beautiful. Thoughtful, philosophical, romantic, meaningful, and beautiful. A lot of people rag on Meyer for many, many reasons, some of which are quite legitimate, but I honestly love her writing style. I find it very clear and real and right on par with my thought style. That plus the depth of the idea in The Host makes this one a must-read. The movie, which recently came out, was also very very good, and true to the novel.
Here's the point where I lose my credibility entirely, but the truth is the truth. Yes, I own Meyer's The Twilight Saga. Yes, that does mean I like it. No, I do not care about the looks you are all shooting me through the computer right now. I refuse to be ashamed of this, even though I can hear all my writing friends shouting at me right now. While I do acknowledge and join in everyone's critique-fest of the Twilight Saga, this series gets an awful lot more flack than it actually deserves. People like to look for something to hate on, and Twilight made itself accessible to this.
The fact is, I personally see brilliance in this series right along with the less-brilliant. I like Meyer's writing style, which is what got me into Twilight in the first place. She has a really good voice. On top of that, this is as legitimate of a paranormal romance as any paranormal romance out there. How is this any different from all of those books? It's not. That's a fact.
On top of that, Meyer and I are both of the Mormon faith, and that means I have a different perspective on these books. There is an awful lot of subtle and less-subtle references to the beliefs of our faith, and I like those. I like looking for them. I'm not even talking about the bigger metaphors for abstinence and pro-life, like many people make fun of. You guys should be quiet anyway, because those are legitimate things. People believe in that stuff for real, you know.
And this is the moment in which I feel some of you fainting right away at the indignity of me having a Twilight book right next to The Hunger Games trilogy. Hush up, y'all. I'm tired of your complaints. It's alphabetical by first name and this is how it is for now.
So, as you all know, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is my other most favorite series, and Collins is my other main writing idol, after Rowling. I don't feel like I need to explain this any further. The Hunger Games is brilliance, and that is that. My bookshelf could not be complete without it.
Then we have Shatter Me by Taheri Mafi, the first book in a new series that I hoped would live up to the standards I put to it by getting the first book. Too often, series/trilogies fall short on the second book. However, the second book, Unravel Me, just came out, and I think it held up nicely. Shatter Me is about a girl in a dystopian society who can kill by touching people, and it's one of the only books that has ever made me cry. And I cried three times while reading it. It's very raw, and the way it's written, with strikethroughs and all (you'll see what I mean if you read it) is brilliant.
The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth pleasantly surprised me by being one of the only post-Hunger Games YA dystopian series to not fall flat on the second book. This trilogy, which will end this fall with Allegiant, has been in fact quite powerful and quite different, with very interesting ideas and plot points, and a strong main character of a different kind. I appreciate these books a lot.
And on the edge there is the beginning of my DVD collection. I'm showing it to you just because, but we don't need comments, because that's not the important thing for this post.
So there's the rest of my DVD collection, riding up on top of four children's books. These books, I have outgrown, but keep because I want to give them to my kids someday, like the stupid sap I am. There's the kid story collection down at the bottom that my grandma gave me a long time ago, and then The Rocking Horse Christmas, which I keep mostly because the illustrator signed it, actually. Then we've got The Fire House Cat, which I liked a lot as a kid, followed by Cynthia Lord's Rules, which I have only questionably grown out of. It's a children's book about the older sister of an autistic boy, which makes it obvious why I like it.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back next time for a list of plot devices I despise.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. More than anything, stories are my life.
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