Jul 29, 2013

30 Day Challenge: Day 9

DAY 9: A Book You Thought You Wouldn't Like But Ended Up Loving

Working in the publishing industry and having friends and family who obviously know I'm an avid reader, I often receive books as gifts for my birthday and for Christmas, or any other occasion, and I barely make it through a day without getting some form of book recommendation. (Yes, email recommendations from Goodreads count.)

There are probably a good number of books out there that looked iffy to me, but because they came recommended from someone I value, I chose to read them, and good thing I did. I like to think that I dabble in a variety of genres, but one genre that has always eluded my interest is true science fiction. Unless it's a movie, I never had much interest. For instance, I love the original Star Wars movies, and I'm a huge fan of the new Star Trek movies, but I could care less about reading the books. So when my fiancĂ©, boyfriend at the time, recommended Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card as one of his favorite books, I said, "Eh, I don't think I'm going to like that. I just can't get into that genre." So what does he do? Why, exactly what any adamant boyfriend does -- buys me the book and tells me I have to read it!

Turns out I couldn't put it down. What most of our blog readers don't know is that I'm in the military, and I find the various ideas of war and the military of the future an interesting concept. With the technologies that are constantly developing, you never know what could come to pass for our planet, or for our military for that matter. The idea of breeding military geniuses from a young age is absurd and wrong to me, but the plot line shows an interesting side to how kids behave in a school environment that is mixed with an extremely rigorous training. It also puts an interesting spin on what a government will do. With all the movies from the past few years about end of the world and Earth not being a livable planet anymore, it's no wonder this genre is becoming more and more popular. I've never read any of the other Ender books, but I'd be interested. The book comes highly recommended, and I'm sure the movie will too, regardless of how you feel about Card's opinions on marriage.

-Desiree


“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there's nothing else. It's here, and you'd better decide to enjoy it or you're going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”  -Lev Grossman 

You guys. Desiree stole my choice.

For personal reasons, Card's now iconic, futuristic adventure was one book that I simply refused to read. After picking it up, however, dissociating the author as best I could, I readily admit that it's quite a provocative read. But, for the sake of bloggertainment--you read it here first!--I will go with another choice. Luckily, there are plenty of books I thought I'd hate, but ended up liking quite a bit. 

Lev Grossman's The Magicians was billed to me as a dark, grittier, loathsome re-imagining of Harry Potter. Now, immediately, when any book is compared to Harry Potter, I'm turned off. Too easy, too reductionist, too common. I was opposed to the recommendation, and so I ignored it for a long while. But the more I avoided Grossman's work, the more curious I became about the world of Fillory he created. So, eventually, I bit. 

And boy am I happy I did. 

I understand the comparison to Rowling's series, and it's a surprisingly accurate way to describe the book and even Grossman's style. The story follows Quentin, a high-school senior and new student of magic. Complete with sex, drugs, and love, Quentin's magical exploits are hardly the fairytale tellings of classic mystical worlds. Increasingly nihilistic and unsettling, The Magicians is one of those books that unnerved and excited me from beginning to end. It may not be for everyone, but as far as initial impressions are concerned, this was a nice departure in the right direction.

Do you have a book along the similar vein? A cover you hated, but a text you couldn't get enough of? Sound off!

-Josh

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