So normally I believe that there is no absolute good or bad when it comes to recommending books; a good book for me might just be a mediocre one for you, and vice versa. But there are a few novels I have read and enjoyed so much that I would recommend them to anyone, anytime. In fact, my love for them is so lasting that I can’t stop myself from obsessing over their sales in the bookshop I work at, and at one chance conversation with one of my bosses I mentioned how I have managed–through introducing the books into our shops first and keeping them in stock since—to sell over 150 copies each of two of them, that my boss asked me to write down what I liked about them, and she would make shelf-talkers and put them in the shops. And, my love for these books being so great, I wrote these recommendations with almost no effort, and thanks to the efficiency of our team, they are already in the shops right now!
So, with no further ado, I give you my four heartfelt novel recommendations:
The Humans by Matt Haig
One-sentence synopsis: An alien possessed a mathematics professor’s body on Earth for a simple reason—he has cracked the code for the major advancement of humanity but the alien society this one represents reaches the consensus that humanity is not ready for this advancement yet. Interesting events ensue.
First you’ll laugh uncontrollably, and then you’ll think, very deeply, and then you may cry. Overall it is a book that makes you a better person (it made me one) through a beautifully told story with an enormous heart. If you like The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night Time (by another British author, Mark Haddon) you’ll love this.
p.s. If you like this you are in luck—the author has, not so long ago, published a new book, How to Stop Time.
p.s.s.: If you enjoy Matt’s sharp observation of the human condition and the witticism why not also read his companion book to The Humans—Humans: An A to Z.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
One-sentence synopsis: In a dystopian world set in the near future, billionaire founder of the Oasis—a massive virtual reality world everyone can’t live without—left the biggest Easter Egg of all time: his fortune and the control of the Oasis will be given to the “Player” who is able to crack the code he hid inside the massive Oasis reality to find the three keys and unlock three gates.
This one had me on the first page. The writing is not fancy or literary, and the story holds your attention and won’t let go. If you have any interest in virtual reality or gaming, or pop culture of the 80s, you won’t want to miss this. It reads like a thriller but is cooler and actually make so much sense that it is a little unsettling–the kind of future we’re heading towards. Also, why not read it first so you can have your take on Steven Spielberg’s adaptation?
Link to the trailer: (Spielberg’s movie showing in March 2018 worldwide)
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
One sentence synopsis: A once-young man found love (or thought he did), lost it, and found it again; he never forgets.
You have been wanting to read him for a while. Perhaps simply to see what the hype is about. But you heard the term “magical realism” and you frowned. Not to say even he’s a contender for the Nobel Prize. Pick up this book, anyway. You can say the name “Haruki Murakami” had never been the same ever since this was published. I say it’s just a damn good love story. Or a coming-of-age story. Or a story about living in an imperfect world as an imperfect person. Take it from me–if you ever want to read Murakami, don’t start with 1Q84, start with Norwegian Wood—I learned it the hard way.
Now if you are like one of my book buddies and former colleague (who tends to devour every book I recommend her), you should be already looking for the next fix—I mean the next read. And why not read another of Murakami’s?
South of the Border West of the Sun
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Read the separate review
One-sentence synopsis: Recently widowed Island Bookshop owner AJ Fikry finds a little girl left at his shop/house’s doorstep and a note that basically says “I can’t look after my own child and I want her to grow up in a bookshop; so there you go”. Meanwhile, he loses a valuable manuscript of Edgar Allan Poe, looks very hard for the thief and befriends the Police Chief and others.
Everything in this book strikes the right chord. Grumpy old man protagonist– checked. A story about the only bookseller on an island–checked. A mystery that involves an invaluable edition of a classics–now that’s a bonus. And above all, who doesn’t like a nuanced story with so many likable characters that you feel like you can get to know them and become friends with them?
This one has no equals so far. If you are desperate you might try to read The Little Paris Bookshop, How to Find Love in a Bookshop, The Bookshop on the Corner; alas, none of them matches AJ Fikry for its equal measure of fun, warmth, and depth.