Hello Hello, and welcome, my lovelies, to The Game of Nerds dedication to the Great American Reads, airing on PBS May 22nd. I am not sure about my fellow Nerds, but in middle school, I had a really rough time, and books were my escape. By 7th grade, I was reading at a college level. Even now, I usually read 100k words a day. Anyways, by 8th grade, I would just grab any book on the shelf, since I had read everything I was interested in. Well, to support the Great American Reads movement, I asked my fellow nerds to send in reviews of their favorite books.. and my lovelies, they answered. I now present the top 100 books our authors and contributors felt like sharing with you, in their own words. Maybe you can look them up if you can relate, see what else they love, maybe find a new series to watch because of similar interests. These books are not ranked in any way, merely numbered as they came in.
First, the lovely Natasja Mooij, who will kick-start our reviews!
It’s about a girl called Jody who is obsessed or even better addicted, to Jackson Gatlin, frontman of The Regulators. When things go wrong at a concert of them, she ends up backstage. Before she knows it, the next morning the strung-out rock star is coming down in her garage. Jody kind of kidnapped him. By accident. And now he doesn’t want to leave. I love the book because Skuse captured perfectly the way a fangirl would react. The whole kidnapping thing might be a bit extreme, but to me, it never feels like it is too much. Rockoholic is filled with humor and various references which had me laughing. Skuse has an original and unique writing style which drew me in straight away
2) Gotham: Dawn of Darkness by Jason Starr
This book is the official prequel to the hit television series Gotham. This tells the story of Gotham before Gordon came on the scene and before Bruce started his journey to being The Dark Knight. It covers the weeks/months before the shooting of Martha and Thomas Wayne (which we see in the pilot episode of Gotham). And it gives a background to what let them get shot, as it covers a break-in at Wayne Manor that might have something to do with Thomas’ own dark past. Although I haven’t finished the book yet, I still love it enough to give it a little review. If you watch the show, you can almost hear the voices of the fantastic actors in the show, for me, this adds to the reading enjoyment. It’s like reading but watching the story unfold in your head with such clarity and imagery. The author has captured these characters spot on perfect, just like they are in the show but with another layer because you can read their thoughts as well. Jason Starr is a very talented and imaginative writer and for Gotham/Batman fans this is the ultimate read!
Andie Boyungs helps by reviewing her 2 favorite books.
3) A Swiftly Tilting Planet By Madeleine L’Engle.
The book features Charles Wallace and his sister Meg. Charles must save the world by passing through time on a unicorn and inhabiting bodies to alter history. Meg, married and pregnant must stay behind and be his anchor to the current world for Charles Wallace. She also looks up information for him and sends it to him telepathically.
4) Go Ask Alice By Beatrice Sparks
It is the diary of a young girl who writes about her battle with food and drugs and running away. This is a sad book but touches me deeply.
Aaron Heil comes in with his 3 favorites.
5) Watership Down by Richard Adams
Absolutely captivated me the first time that I read it. The characters might all be rabbits, but in Adams’s hands, they experience human desires and fears. He takes a journey of a few miles and makes it life-changing. The best part is that the book began as a story to keep his kids from getting bored.
6) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
One of my favorite horror books. I still think it’s creepy every time I read it. One of the understated qualities of the book is that Mr. Hyde can exist without the initiating drug, which means Dr. Jekyll possibly had been the monster all along.
7) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
A beast that I’ve only read once, but the level of detail and research that goes into the setting and characters of this murder mystery is awesome. Even though portions of the book do nothing more than detail the intricacies of medieval church politics and library architecture, I catch myself wanting to return to this story more and more.
Jaimee Rindy comes in with the 8th view, their top book.
8) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven is a thought-provoking, time-bending tale that explores the thin strands of life that connect us all. It’s a twist on the classic apocalypse tail, this time jumping between the moment of the horrific flu outbreak, twenty years after the collapse of civilization, and present life as we know it. The novel follows an ensemble cast of characters, much like Steven King’s The Stand, but much more easily digestible. Mandel weaves an exciting story between existential musings and beautiful prose. This book has a little something for everyone, and with the core of its message being about humanity on varying scales, I find this to be one of the most universally appealing novels I have ever read. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Blaike Trujillo‘s review comes in 9, and is also one of my favorite books as well!
9) Where the Sidewalk Ends By Shel Silverstein
What we read as children molds us into the adults we are destined to become. Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” was originally published in 1974 but when I got my chocolate-stained hands on it in the late 90’s, I was hooked. Everything from the simplistic art to the easily memorized verses captivated me in a way that I haven’t experienced since. I spent hours laying on my bed reciting “Hug-O-War” and to this day, know every word. Overall, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” will always hold a warm place in my heart.
Natalie Griffin rounds up our guest reviews for part 1!
10) Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
The Tales of Goldstone Wood series has been on my must-read list for years; I recommend these books to everyone who asks for a new book, and I even named my cat after one of the characters! Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s writing is vivid beyond anything else I have read. Her words bring every fantasized element of the novels to life, from the lively young royalty to the most unfathomable fairies. Each scene is so colorful and expressive that you can nearly feel the sensations described – especially the dragons’ breath! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the intoxicating and intricate plot of the stories, but what really makes these novels fun is how many different ways you can read them. Because each novel focuses on a different character(s), you don’t necessarily need to read them in order…although, I highly recommend starting from the top with Heartless so you can start the journey in Parumvir where Stengl intended! Appreciation of the world building and character interaction becomes enhanced with every read.
11) Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As a fan of paranormal stories, I was immediately drawn toward the tragic play Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The play follows an academic man named Faust who unknowingly makes a deal with a demon named Mephistopheles, and Faust’s life takes turns exactly how you’d expect. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it’s 18th century German literature… Faust has been influential across media since it first became popular. Fans of the Blue Exorcist series will be thrilled to read about the characters that influenced the modern anime and manga series! Oxford University Press offers an excellent translation of both parts of the play translated by David Luke.
Now, that’s not all the reviews we have. My turn to step up to the plate.
12) A Voice in The Wind By Francine Rivers
While scouring the library, I came across this book, the beginning of a trilogy, while hunting for any distraction. I always give any book I grabbed 10 pages to catch my attention, but this one.. it caught me in the first line. ‘The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles. ‘ I do not believe in the Christian faith, but this book, it would of made me a believer if I didn’t already have a belief system. It tells the tale of a young Christian, made a slave to Romans who believed her Jewish. She lived in the image of God as I’ve seen portrayed in Christian writings, but rarely in actions. And, for the first time in my young life, the book did not have a happy ending. And I was stunned. The material is definitely for adults, as it does go into arranged weddings, lifestyles of Roman aristocrats, and slavery, but worth the read. And, the best part- There is a sequel. The 3rd, I didn’t really fall in love with.
13) The Dark Towers 3: The Wastelands by Stephen King
The Dark Towers is a monster of a series, and Stephen King has been a part of my life since I could remember. Got in a lot trouble in 4th Grade because my parents let me read “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” and I brought it to school. I guess it was too advanced for my teachers to allow me to read, or they saw King’s name and assumed it was gory. Either way, lots of trouble. With the Dark Towers, it was a bonding series, something my father and I often discussed before heading off to bed. I loved the 3rd so much, I think I have 3 copies drifting in my library. I loved the growth of Jake, and how each character really found themselves in the book. I have yet to see the movie adaption, scared to see what they lost. And, I miss Oy.
Well, that’s all for Part 1, we still have 87 more reviews to come. What is your favorite book? Why? See you all for now, and until next time, Stay Shiny!
Nice idea. I just watched the first episode of Great American Reads – glad I’m not the only one getting ridiculously excited over this.