TOP 10 MUST-READS

This week's Top 10 Monday is a special one. It is not only dedicated to one of our close friends (whose birthday was yesterday), but it also features said friend's picks as a kind of "guest star appearance". The reason this friend is featured on our book blog, apart from abundantly supplying us with books for no reason at all, all year round, is because this friend has begun to actively read (for pleasure) earlier this year. At 31, he is the perfect example of how it's never too late to start, and of the profound influence a book can have even on those who never felt like they were missing books in their lives before. He is the perfect example of how a proper recommendation goes a long way, and how a chance given to a new experience can be a chance given to oneself to broaden one's horizons.

He was also the one to pick this Top 10 Monday theme. And it was as simple - and as complex - as top 10 must-reads. Given that it was a recommendation which started him out on reading, having him recommend a variety of books to others alongside us feels like coming a full circle. It's oddly appropriate, and endlessly inspiring.

Happy birthday, Dennis! And congratulations on reading 30 books so far this year, thus beating your own challenge twice already.

And without further ado...







Dennis's top 10


1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower




This is the very first book that i read after a long, long time of not reading at all.
The story was amazing, and the characters were well written.
And to me, the story was relatable. I could identify with the main character a lot.
Because I, too, always kept to myself, and occasionally still do.
The story follows a guy named Charlie and you get to 'live' in his head and see how he experiences life, for a little while at least.
Charlie is a naive person, and his awkwardness made me smile and laugh every now and then. Charlie does not only deal with issues like love, but also with having a gay friend, with death and with sexual assault. But you also get to see his love of music and literature.
Basically, this book, and character, deals with a lot of subjects. And this is why I would recommend the book to everyone. I think everybody would recognize a little bit of themselves in Charlie.


2. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour




Amy and Roger's Epic Detour. Wow, where do I start?
This book was an amazing read. (Why did it have to end so early, though? I would have loved to see a couple of more chapters to see what happened with Amy and Roger.)
Now that i got that out of the way, here goes...
This story follows the journey that Amy and Roger take across America. What in the beginning started as a four day long road trip to get Amy's mother's car back to her mother, turns into an adventure that not only has Amy coming out of her shell, but a journey in which she comes to terms with her father's death.
The story is written beautifully, and you feel like you are really there with Amy and Roger, traveling with them and experiencing the road trip yourself.  I also loved how the author added little bits and pieces from the trip into the book. Seeing receipts, postcards, hotel signs, road-maps and other items, that was a nice touch. All in all, this book is a must read for everybody who loves to go on road trips. In my opinion this is the best road trip book out there at the moment. If you have not read this book, go and buy it. You don't know what you are missing.


3. I Wrote This For You




I Wrote This For You is wonderful book because it speaks to so many different people at so many different levels. For myself, the quotation, “I'm not scared of never meeting you. I'm scared of having met you, and let you go”, spoke to me. When I read this, I immediately thought of me and Lexie.
It is just one of the many quotes, poetry, poems, whatever you want to call it, that are in this book.
And every single piece has a different meaning to different persons. It really is amazing to see that so many people can interpret a piece of poetry so differently. And for that fact alone, this book is a must read. So if you are going to buy one book of poetry this year, let it be this. Why? Because it was written with you in mind.

4. The Fault In Our Stars




Wow. What can I say about this book that has not been said before?
Okay. There isn't much to say. TFIOS is a genuinely good story, and I think everyone should read it.
This is one of those books that you probably want to start re-reading once you've finished it. It is that good. Well, in my opinion, that is. It is a very good book and it pulls you in right from the start. The characters are compelling and heartbreaking and very funny. In other words, they feel real. 
And don't let the story about cancer scare you. Sure this book deals with it, but the other things in this book, the love they have for each other, the trip to Amsterdam, meeting Peter Van Houten, that is really intriguing, too. Yes, Hazel deals with cancer, but to me, that is just a side effect. To me, the book is about love, two people finding each other, finding true love. Isn't that what we all want?

5. We Were Liars




I really liked We Were Liars. It was quick read. It was a fun, sad, engaging, adventurous, gripping and an all around exciting book to read. It is one of those books that keeps you reading, because you want to know what will happen next.
It's one of those books that when you have finished it and realized what has actually happened, you want to go back and immediately want to read the book again to see how you missed certain parts, or did not pick certain things up. And this is a testament to the author. She put little hints here and there throughout the book, which, in hindsight, you go like, oh yeah, I should have known that, I read that earlier, or I completely forgot about that!
This is just a book you have to pick up. The hype that surrounds this book is well worth it.
And I really want to tell more about this book, but I cannot. I would probably give away the plot, and we don't want that. So, all I can say is, pick up this book, you will not be disappointed. And if anybody asks you about this book, what it is about, just LIE.


6. Humans of New York




This might be a weird book to see on this list, but I had to include it.
A sentence of the synopsis of this books says “A beautiful, heartfelt, funny and inspiring collection of photographs capturing the spirit of a city”. And i could not agree more. It is all that and then some. It is an amazing book about the people of New York. The photographer/author did an excellent job of capturing all different kinds of people on film. It showed us that no matter what color, race or religion you have, that everybody has a certain kind of beauty. It made me want to pack my bags and travel to New York immediately.


7. Divergent




Divergent, a lot of people will tell you it is a Hunger Games ripoff. To be honest, I have no idea, I have not read the Hunger Games. (I know, I know!)
To me, this book was a great read. Set in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world, the protagonist, Beatrice “Tris” Prior is a young teenager trying to figure out in which faction she belongs.
Once these teenagers become sixteen years old, they have to take a test which determines which faction they belong to. When Beatrice takes the test, her results come up as inconclusive. The test shows that there is not a clear answer as to which faction she is most suited. Beatrice apparently has the ability to not conform to society, and make up her own mind about things. This makes her a Divergent, and thus a danger and threat to society. 

The plot and the characters were pretty well built. I did like Beatrice, and her character grew as the story made progress. In some books the character does not grow, and fortunately in this book that was not the case. There was, of course, violence and action in this book, but the amount of action and violence was just about right. It did not feel like it was just there. It did add to the story, it was necessary to have certain fights. I also felt that the love interest between her and another character developed at just the right pace. It was not rushed as you see in a lot of other books these days.

And I really liked the ending. It was a satisfying end to the book left me wanting more.

So, if you are into dystopians at the moment, do yourself a favor and start reading Divergent. It is definitely one of the better dystopians out there.






8. Best In Hollywood: The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful



A lot of you people out there reading this are probably wondering why i put this book on the list.
Well, this book, it is an autobiography by James Best, who some of you might recognize. James Best is probably best known for his role in the Dukes Of Hazzard, portraying Roscoe P. Coltrane.
But this man, he did so much more. He starred in more than 170 movie and TV shows. He worked with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, Burt Reynolds and many others. (He even gave acting lessons to Quentin Tarantino!)
As you can tell, the man has seen it all and done it all. He was an actor, producer, director, teacher, and many more things. So, why should everybody read this book? Well, James has been in the industry more than 60 years. His stories are amazing, some are hilarious, some are sad, but it shows the life of a person inside of Hollywood, trying to make it big and dealing with stardom, dealing with life. And i just think everybody should read James his autobiography. If you have to read one autobiography, and you have to decide which book and which famous person you want to read about, ladies and gentleman, this is the book you'll want. Trust me on that one.


9.  Shatter Me




Shatter Me is set in a dystopian world where the world as we know it is gone.
It is about a girl named Juliette who lives in a world that is slowly dying. Juliette has been stuck inside an insane asylum for 264 days. She has barely access to food, nobody to talk to, and only has a small window in her cell, which is one of the only things that is keeping her sane.
She is put in the asylum because her touch is lethal and it can kill anyone instantly. She is in the asylum, because she accidentally killed a young boy with her touch and her parents did not want to take care of her anymore, so they put her in the asylum.

I liked Juliette, and how she was portrayed by the author in this book.
The way the author, Tahereh Mafi wrote this book is amazing. She used a certain writing style that I had not seen before. I have to applaud the author for that, because the style she used, it was as beautiful as it was insightful. The way she wrote this book, it gave you a look inside Juliette her mind, what she was thinking, how she reacted to things happening around her. Her style really  added to the story. Anyway, back to Shatter Me. The plot was amazing. The book never had dull moment nor was it far-fetched. Yes, it is set in a dystopian world, but Tahereh Mafi made this world quite unique. The world is a mix of X-men and government corruption. Yes, the book deals with people who have certain powers, and a world that lies in ruins. But the writer blended it all together very, very well. The characters have depth to them, and there is just the right amount of love, romance, fun and war mixed together. It is a fantastic read altogether.
I would recommend this book and series to everyone. If you love young adult and dystopian novels, than this a book you simply must read.


10. The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer



I read this book on the recommendation of a Lexie, and I have to say that I loved this book.
The story follows and revolves, as the title suggests, around Mara Dyer.
Mara was in an accident with a few of her friends, and she is the only one who survived, almost unscathed. Mara cannot remember what has happened, or what had caused the accident. To not be constantly remembering the accident and what had happened, Mara and her family moved from Rhode Island to Florida. As she slowly begins to remember the accident, she starts to think that she is the reason that all of her friends are dead.
At her new  school, Mara meets a boy named Noah, who she finds intriguing, and of course, falls in love with.
This book was pretty interesting. It dabbles a little bit in everything. Love, fear, friendship, supernatural/paranormal stuff. It is very diverse.
I don't want to spoil this book, so I am not going to tell you what happens in the book itself. That is for you to find out. What I do want to say is, that if you are a fan of a fun, yet, at times, creepy story, you just have to read this book. It will not let you down, I promise you that.





Lexie and Natalie's top 10



1. Harry Potter





Harry Potter. It has been our comfort, our inspiration and our entire youth. A whole generation has identified with these characters and lived their lives year after year, summer after summer in turn. How could we rank this any lower than the top spot? Harry is likely the most famous boy in the world, everyone knows his name and his struggles have moved millions as he grew (and we grew with him), as he taught us about the down sides to fame, and as he ultimately stood up against the embodiment of evil and came out... well, pick up the series and find up. If there's anything we know for certain, it's that J.K Rowling's books have encouraged children to read and taught us all the true meaning of love and friendship, courage and magic.




2. The Hunger Games



Another incredibly popular Young Adult book. I got into these books after Potter ended, so I got sucked into these in my Post-Potter depression. It worked. I got so hooked into this story that I went from fangirling from one to another. It's full of many important messages and tells us that if the way the world is going now, this could possibly come true. And it's scary. Katniss and many other characters teach us the importance of family, love, bravery and to fight for what we believe in. And to never give up. She's inspiring and I know she's inspired many other authors to write stories with strong female leads. Girl power!




3. Thoughtless



This is a fantastic series and I can't stress that enough. It is three books full of love, anger, heartbreak and friendship. If you want a rollercoaster of emotions, this is the series for you. It's one of the first New Adult books we both picked up and it has forever remained our favourite within the genre. No book series in NA has yet compared to the amazing writing and characterization as S.C. Stephens presented them in Thoughtless. If you do read the first book and you don't find the protagonist, Kiera, easy to understand - keep going. She's really matures and her character growth throughout these books is among the more inspiring character growths out there. By the final page in Reckless, the last book in the series, we were really proud of the woman she had become.



4. Anna and the French Kiss



J'adore Anna and the French Kiss! This book will always be there to cheer me up when I'm down, it's incredibly popular, so if you haven't read it, you've probably heard of it at least. A girl going to boarding school in Paris, you can't not be envious of her, she meets some amazing people and a certain hunky gentleman who's half-French, half-British. Nice. I love Paris and I felt right back in the heart of the city that I love so much. Stephanie Perkins has a great way of writing where she really makes you feel like you're there, and she also writes so well that turn the final page and you're like '...wait, I'm done?'. Easy and effortless, her writing flows brilliantly. I'll always love this book.




5. Animal Farm



For a little change in pace, there's Orwell's Animal Farm, a classic that earned its title for more than just having been written at a right time. This cleverly-construed allegory serves as a proverbial nudge to any and all members of any and all societies, to question their place in the system and to rethink the way their actions (or their indifference) influence and change the society they are a part of. And all this in 150 pages. Orwell's Animal Farm is a must-read not because it's a feel-good book, but because it's one that raises fundamental questions about our very identities, and, what's more, makes us proactive about it.




6. Slammed



This was the first Colleen Hoover book that I read and it was love at first read. I adored these characters instantly and I fell in love with their love, their story was so touching. Colleen's writing is incredible, if you haven't read her books, you're really missing out. Slammed is full of some brilliant poetry, a love story that's believable and important elements like family and friendship. There's no unrealistic muscled, angry guy in it who is in love with some helpless and dramatic virgin girl. It's all so real. Will Cooper is just a regular guy, he's thoughtful, caring and charming, where Layken is tough, independent and sweet. I don't know anyone who's read this book and hated it. It'll always be in my Top 10.


7. Sophie's World



Sophie's World is, fundamentally, the world in miniature. Through the eyes of a fourteen year-old girl, the reader gets to explore the Western philosophy from its inception to its modern legacy. If the idea of philosophy sounds daunting at best and boring at worst, Sophie's World is in the perfect position to change the reader's view on both counts. As the writer addresses a fourteen year old girl in a novel about self-discovery, so are all the concepts of philosophy broken down and explained as they would be to a child, without ever bordering on condescension or minimalism. And much as Animal Farm mentioned before, it is knowledge imparted in this way that makes us reevaluate ourselves and become proactive about our growth. So Sophie's World is yet another must-read to make our list.




8. One Day



This was another emotional book. I read this while travelling and I was so engrossed in their story, I didn't even want to go anywhere until I'd done. It's a friends to lovers story that's set over 20 years and it's a real rollercoaster. Dex and Em. Em and Dex. From page one you're cheering these two on and they're just typical boneheads who can see love right in front of them but don't act upon it. But David Nicholls wrote this so damn well, you just can't put it down. It's a real page turner. The ending? Oh man, that ending. You have to read this book. There's also a film starring Anne Hathaway that's been adapted so well, I was quite surprised because... well, y'know what Hollywood's like. You have to read this book, you'll love Emma and Dexter.


9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone



This is the urban fantasy to rival all urban fantasy reads that came before and after it. Set in modern-day Prague (and occasionally straying to Paris, Marrakesh and a variety of other fantasy worlds), The Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the very best of fantasy. It subverts tropes every step of the way, and introduces everything from an empowering, take-charge attitude in the female lead to a familial bond which has nothing to do with blood. It explores the issues of finding one's voice at the brink of adulthood, of daring to dream a better world and make strides to make it be so, and of being the one in the crowd of the many.





10. The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)


This book was different to what I expected. It was better. I thought it was going to be more emotional than it was but it was actually quite funny in parts. Of course it sends the message that looks aren't important, don't judge a book by it's cover, and that's great. I love stories that do that. The characters are interesting and lovable, the story is memorable (aswell as the title of the book) and I read this thinking it was going to be more 'I hate my life because I'm fat and ugly' but no. It wasn't. This girl was just like 'y'know what? Fuck it'. If you haven't read this book yet, you really should. 

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