19 Apr

Book Bingo Square Suggestions!

Check the rules out here if you want to play!

Rapunzel Rapunzel - stories about being locked in some place forever.

The Kingdom Crumbles - stories about governments or monarchies that completely fail at doing the thing.

Plague reading about plagues! - This is our life now.

We did a deep dive on this one, click here to read about each book we picked for this category

Head over to our full post about these!

The Kids are Alright - stories about young people saving the world.

ALSO: The Dark Artifices series by , The Shadowhunter series (really anything by Cassandra Clare), and City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

We Write Letters Now - a story set in a time where everything was far away so you had to actually write peoples letters and then wait WEEKS to hear back from them.


War and Peace, Tolstoy
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas
Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle
Outlander Series, Diana Gabaldon
84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

Dragons - just dragons. That’s all.

Dystopian Fiction AKA Current Events. - no explanation needed.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Matched Trilogy, Ally Condie
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
FKA USA, Reed King

Real But Not the News - Non-fiction that is completely unrelated to plagues or politics.

The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule
The Blood of Emmet Till, Timothy B. Tyson
Mindhunter, John E. Douglas
Justice, Dominick Dunne
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt
In Cool Blood, Truman Capote
My Dark Places, James Ellroy
Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann
Party Monster, James St. James
Say Nothing, Patrick Radden Keefe
I'll be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara

Getting Graphic - read a graphic novel! We have ideas! Don’t have any at home? There are some free trials out there for e-reading graphic novels. You can always always ask us for advice.

Distractions - a book about an adventure. All the fun of an adventure, and none of the mess!

My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George
The Incredible Journey, Shiela Burnford
Fairyland Series - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is first,
Labyrinth, Novelization by ACH Smith
The Talisman, King and Straub
Agatha Christie Mysteries
Nancy Drew Mysteries
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Wizard of Oz Series -14 books in this series, and all with illustrations that will make you cry with joy, Frank L. Baum
The House With the Clock in its Walls, John Bellairs
Star Wars: Master & Apprentice, Claudia Gray
Star Wars: Dark Disciple, Christie Golden
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James
The Host, Stephanie Meyer
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

We Can’t Go Back - books about activism. Books about systemic change. Books about Queer theory or intersectional social justice.

Soothe Your Soul - like comfort food, but with books instead. Choose one of our Staff fave comfort books or choose your own!

Kristen’s picks: Anything by Anne Bishop. Because people get what is coming to them, in (sometimes gruesome) very satisfying ways. Their just desserts, as it were.
Robin McKinley for the poetry of her prose. And her lady heroes.

Blair's picks: Tolstoy - (War and Peace or Anna K) because his writing about everyday life in Russia is so gloriously descriptive and beautiful,as well as his incredible ability to write what's going on in people's heads so well that you see a part of yourself in each character. I FEEL SEEN.

Phantom Tollbooth - was my favorite book when I was young

Neverending Story - the characters and journeys are burnt into my DNA

The Haunting of Hill House - feeling spooky in a Gothic way makes me feel cozy

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - see above

Leviathan Wakes *** hard*** I am so deeply in love with the characters in this book. Similar to Tolstoy; you can find a piece of yourself in each one. It is such a grand and sweeping story with so much going on, it's like entering into a new ecosystem.

Melanie's picks: The Harry Potter series because now more than ever I need a magical world (and fond memories) to escape into

Agatha Christie because a classic whodunnit is engaging and creepy and satisfyingly wrapped up in a bow and sometimes I just need some closure.

Indigo's pick: Mysteries of Pittsburgh because it's my favorite book and takes me back to a tender period of my life--when I first read it as a freshman in college. It makes me feel soft and gentle and nostalgic. I re-read it probably once a year.

Odana's pick: Wrinkle in Time Series bc AUNT BEAST and everything feels Like It Is Going to be Okay

Sarah's picks:  The Secret Garden, because I vividly remember my mom reading it to me as a kid. Also Anne of Green Gables, partially from good childhood memories, and partially because Anne is such a ray of sunshine.

Carly's picks: This will not come as a shock to anyone who knows me, my comfort reads are everything by Cassandra Clare. Because FEELINGS. I think what makes them comforting to me is that everybody has a place. There are the big picture, world saving triumphs and the personal, self acceptance triumphs and they’re basically the same

Makenzie's pick: A Wrinkle in Time because it introduced me to the sci-fi/fantasy genre and escapism reading.

Adam's picks: Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and Tolkien because I know them so well and they give me feels.

Athena's pick: My comfort read is, and always will be, the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix. These days I often skip the first book
and just read the last two, Lirael and Abhorsen, but if you're a first time reader, Sabriel is an important setup. I love the world that Nix created, a world where two kingdoms, one magic and one mundane, sit next to one another. A world where the sound of bells can bring back the dead and send them away as well. Sabriel and Lirael are amazing women who overcome so much to save the world around them. I highly recommend getting a physical copy because you'll want to inhale all three books once you get started. But the audiobook is narated by Tim Curry, so…… there's that.

Angelica Button's picks: Would Everyone Please Stop: Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas by Jenny Allen
I love this because it’s a series of essays, so there isn’t a major commitment to read all of it. It’s so relatable- and chuckle-to-yourself funny. It makes me feel more in touch with humanity when I’m feeling like an absolute nut job.

Anne of Green Gables because it brings me nostalgic memories of sitting in my living room watching the miniseries on PBS as a kid. I thought Anne was so cheeky and witty- definitely one of my top superheroes as a kid. The book fleshes her out so much more- I love her wisdom and unrelenting openness to new ideas. Definitely an “I can do anything” kind of hug.

Jd's picks: Tolkien - because it introduced me to the world of fantasy as a preteen and I’m always looking for something to make that happen again.

Harry Potter - because it brought back that fantastical feeling, mixed with a lot of emotions and I’ve never cried so hard reading anything ever.

Jungle Book - because as a kid, the wilds of the jungle, animals, ancient & abandoned civilizations and adventures were something I craved to experience and as an adult, same.

Ready Player One - because it took everything I love and gelled it in such a brilliant way, with such an amazing plot.

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - because it’s the finest LGBTQ novel I’ve ever read and also is a great coming of age story, a great angsty love tale and an amazing tale about family.

Starless Sea - because it’s a tale of destiny and making our own future, filled with flashbacks, locked doors & keys and choices. It’s also a great tale of mysterious parentage and LGBTQ love.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - because it’s a treasure of a book all about adventures, loyalty, love and rescue and the fantastical. And it’s got dragons.

Priory of the Orange Tree - because it’s an epic fantasy about love, faith, loyalty, friendship, patriotism and dragons. Do you betray who you are? Are you able to expand your horizons? Can you look within? Will you help someone you hate? What can we all learn? Also… dragons.

Jake's pick: the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. It's a very nostalgic series for me.

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10 Apr

Plague Reading!

We're All Fine Here.

Here are some suggestions to help you cross off the "Plague Reading About Plagues" square on our Book Bingo Cabin Fever edition, aka quarantine edition, aka pandemic edition, aka WE HOPE THIS IS THE ONLY EDITION OF THIS EDITION EVER AGAIN.

The Plague, Albert Camus

Who would've thought that a French existentialist writing about a plague as allegory for war would top all the best summer reading lists? I'd type "LOL" and end it there but I just can't do that to my college boyfriend Al. Set in the 1940s, this is a deep dive into the deep end. Without floaties. Without flippers. To the abyss, where Ed Harris is. But like Ed, you find space to breathe down there, and it's really quite beautiful.


Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan

Soon to be a show, "Y", and written by BKV who can do no wrong, this is one of our absolute favorites! A mysterious plague wipes out everything with a Y chromosome (males, if you missed science class) EXCEPT for a guy and his pet monkey. 10 volumes, perfect length, funny, sincere, may destroy you.


Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

The first book in Atwood's "Madaddam Trilogy" followed by Year of the Flood and Maddaddam. Atwood's dystopias are BRUTAL but of all the books on these apocalyptic lists, hers are the most possible...which is what makes them SO GODDAMN TERRIFYING.


Station 11, Emily St. John Mandel

We ADORE this book, which is a weird word to use in the context of death and destruction but, we do. On the more literary and realistic end of the dystopia spectrum, this book focuses on a traveling Shakespeare troupe and asks: what is the role of art during the end times? Also it does that cool thing where it weaves past and present and you don't realize it's happening and then BAM your mind is blown.


The Stand, Stephen King

This is THE book we think of, when we think of plague reading. Good vs Evil in such an epic way, a serious KU personal fave. This says it in a nutshell:

"The Stand has everything. Adventure. Romance. Prophecy. Allegory. Satire. Fantasy. Realism. Apocalypse. Great!"--The New York Times Book Review


Zone One, Colson Whitehead

We were so excited to learn that Whitehead, author of the bestselling The Underground Railroad, wrote a post apocalyptic story in 2012 and we cannot wait to read it:

 “Uniquely affecting. . . . A rich mix of wartime satire and darkly funny social commentary. . . . Whether charged with bleak sadness or bone-dry humor, sentences worth savoring pile up faster than the body count.” —The Los Angeles Times

"A zombie story with brains. . . . [Whitehead is a] certifiably hip writer who can spin gore into macabre poetry.” —The Washington Post

"Zone One is not the work of a serious novelist slumming it with some genre-novel cash-in, but rather a lovely piece of writing...Whitehead picks at our nervousness about order's thin grip, suggesting just how flimsy the societal walls are that make possible our hopes and dreams and overly complicated coffee orders." —Entertainment Weekly


The Passage, Justin Cronin

You guys, imagine if the entire United States was quarantined from the rest of the world, enforced with explosive barriers in the water, and left to fend for itself?
First in a trilogy, and briefly a show that got canceled after one season (which was pretty decent! And had Zach Morris! But grown!) this is one of the few stories on these lists that tells you the story of the before, the now, and the after. This isn't a virus that goes away in a few months with some good quality quarantine time, this is the characters you get attached to and then their children and their children, who grow up in quarantine.


The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker

We are super excited to read this! This illness manifests as SLEEP, and the sleepers have heightened brain activity indicating that they are dreaming...BUT WHAT ARE THEY DREAMING ABOUT?!

“This is an exquisite work of intimacy. Walker’s sentences are smooth, emotionally arresting—of a true, ethereal beauty. . . . This book achieves [a] dazzling, aching humanity.”Entertainment Weekly


Slapstick, Kurt Vonnegut

And now, for something completely different. Slapstick was the first Vonnegut I read, (took it off of my parents bookshelves as a preteen) and still one of my faves. This is the first book with "adult themes" I remember reading (not sex, get your minds out of the gutter) it careens between humor, tenderness, science fiction, and satire in a way that thrilled my adolescent self, and still does. Come for the prologue, (I wouldn't hesitate to rank it as some of Vonnegut's best, most affecting writing) but stay for the "Chinese plague" that is timely, in a not what you would expect kind of way. If other plague reading has given you the blues, this is the wry, melancholy cure.


The Road, Cormac Mccarthy

Sorry to admit that I only saw the movie, and MAN did I not want to go and read the book after! But Mccarthy's fans are die hard and this is one of the most apocalyptic apocalypses, AND won the Pulitzer Prize, so it has to make the cut.


White Noise, Don Delillo

Despite the fact that there is a toxic airborne event in this book, it is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Fans of Beckett and Vonnegut will appreciate this. The dialogue is so quick and witty, it reads like a play.


The Girl with All the Gifts, M.R. Carey

I knew and loved Mike Carey for his comic book series Unwritten, so when I found out M.R. Carey was one and the same I was PSYCHED. I can't tell you why I liked this particular infection/apocalypse novel without spoiling it but I'll say this: it's got some staples of the genre but is unique in some really interesting ways...


Bird Box, Josh Malerman

Ok haters, you can't judge a book on it's television or movie adaption. I personally loved the movie, but I know a lot of people didn't. I think invisible/psychological villains are always tricky to visually translate, and I think the descriptions of what people are seeing in the book are going to be terrifying and give me nightmares and I can't wait.


World War Z, Max Brooks

This has been on my to do list for ages, and now is the time! Max Brooks is probably the most prominent literary voice of the zombie apocalypse out there, having written a survival guide before this.

“...It is gripping reading and a scathing indictment of weak responses to crises real and over-hyped.”
- Hartford Courant

“A sober, frequently horrifying and even moving account. . . . Brooks has delivered a full-blown horror novel, laced with sharp social and political observations and loads of macabre, gruesome imagery. . . . The real horror of World War Z comes from the all-too-plausible responses of human beings and governments to the menace.”
- Fangoria

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks

If you'd prefer historical fiction to post-apocalyptic futures, Year of Wonders is set in 17th century England and based on an actual "plague village" that Brooks stumbled upon and then researched.

“The novel glitters with careful research into such arcana as seventeenth-century lead-mining, sheep-farming, and, of course, medicine, but its true strength is a deep imaginative engagement with how people are changed by catastrophe.” -The New Yorker

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