Book Recommendations

I don’t know how you can be a writer and not read. And read a lot. Yet that’s something I didn’t learn about being a writer until much later than I should have. I grew up thinking a writer just wrote stuff from their brain and never thought about putting material back into it to nurture creativity.

If you are not a writer, reading is still very, very important. It builds empathy. It gives you creative powers. It’s fun. It opens your mind. It’s relaxing. I don’t know how you can enjoy sitting in the sun with a cup of tea unless you have a book in your hands (or ears).

Reading is important.

So without further stuff to get in the way, here are my most ardent book recommendations:

Fantasy: Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones.

She wrote Howl’s Moving Castle, but in my opinion, Dark Lord of Derkholm is her best work. It’s super funny and very intelligent too. Probably a quicker read than most fantasy stories.

Sci-Fi: The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi. Also funny. But my oh my is it a fun adventure that massages the brain and ignites its creativity centers. The world-building is so delicately done that you don’t even realize all the things you know about the world in the first two chapters. The beginning chapter is probably one of my most favorite examples of how to begin a book. It’s just hilarious and breaks a lot of writing rules and still works.

Non-Fiction: Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle.

Yes, she wrote A Wrinkle in Time, but these are her thoughts on Christianity and Art. Mostly about art and I’ve found that it really helps me rediscover the artist inside myself when I am feeling uncreative. It’s like a creativity booster. I recommend reading it one chapter at a time and doling it out over a longer period, since you will need to dwell on the concepts she presents. Also, I find that after I read a chapter, I immediately want to go write, so I only get through about a chapter at a time. This book fed my identity as an artist in a way I desperately needed.

Historical Fiction: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This book didn’t get as good reviews as I think it should have. It sounds like it’s a short, little romp into adventure with a lead female character. But really it’s an incredibly intense emotional roller coaster that is anything but short and little, because it will stick in your mind long after you finish reading it. It’s really good writing, too. And it made me feel like I could actually picture what things were like in WWII. I’m always a sucker for WWII settings, though. Something about the danger calls to me.

Young Adult: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

At first I didn’t like this book, but then it grew on me, and then I realized how essential it is for knowing the current market of YA books. This is where books are headed: away from teenage vampires and wizards and towards adultier versions that are less silly. Even if you don’t relish the thought of reading YA, I believe this is an important read to keep your finger on the pulse of today’s publishing. I feel like this is the bridge from what we used to see in YA to what is next. I would recommend Sarah J Maas’ more recently published series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I haven’t read that one yet myself.

What am I currently reading? Too many books. You can check out my Goodreads shelf on the right (or below) or at www.goodreads.com/RJRugroden.

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