As a long-time book lover with far-sweeping tastes (meaning I will read literally anything) I have recommendations for fans of all genres. To try and touch all sorts of readers, this spring we’ll be moving through a book for every letter of the alphabet!
Ella Minnow Pea—by Mark Dunn
In the center of town on the island of Nollop, there’s a statue of Nevin Nollop and the sentence he invented. “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” contains every letter of the alphabet, and is worshipped by Nollop’s citizens. When tiles start falling off the statue’s inscription, the island’s fanatical high council goes into a panic. They ban the use of each fallen letter from public use, slowly cutting up the citizens’ vocabulary. Ella Minnow Pea is told through correspondence between citizens of Nollop, and as letters continue to drop, the novel drops them too, making it a puzzle to decipher. Mark Dunn’s delightful and prize winning novel intensifies as you read, the book’s farcical nature growing more powerful as Nollop’s residents fight for their right to all the beauty words have to offer.
Feed—by M.T. Anderson
Feed was the decade’s YA dystopian classic way before today’s wave of YA dystopians. There a lot of elements you’d expect from anti-consumerism sci-fi: advertisement fed straight into the mind of the consumer; an environment where even the Clouds™ are manufactured; pervasive, privacy-destroying technology. What’s most misunderstood about these sorts of books, though, is the message that advanced tech is what corrupts society—but even in Anderson’s novel, which is named for the implanted device that links ¾ of the nation’s populace to the grid, it’s simply not true. The “feed” is not the devil of Feed; the new tech is just another tool in the hands of those in power. A YA novel feels like the best way to showcase the sort of world that exists in Feed: cynical, disengaged teens, bumping around their decaying society, painfully aware of the ways they’re being manipulated, but unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
The Girl Who Could Fly—by Victoria Forest
“Piper decided to jump off the roof. It wasn’t a rash decision on her part.” So starts Victoria Forest’s children’s novel, something that’s been called “X-Men meets Little House on the Prairie.” Piper McCloud (what a name for a girl who can fly!) discovers her ability as a child, copying baby birds until she’s eventually leaping off roofs. When government agencies take notice, she’s ushered off for a secret academy, where other children with charming abilities are being groomed by the dastardly Dr. Hellion. It’s a silly book, but a sweet and heartfelt one, and one that has enough cleverness to its story to be read by all ages.
How I Live Now—by Meg Rosoff
A World War III story, told through the voice of a young girl who doesn’t care much about war. Daisy, a snarky teen from New York, has been sent to live in the English countryside by her distant father. But her present worries fall away as her aunt, the only adult left in her life, disappears one day as political tensions boil over. Daisy and her cousins subsist by themselves on their little farmstead, which becomes a secluded Garden of Eden where the rules of the regular world don’t apply. The children do as they will for as long as they can, while the war rages on outside. That is, until the war breaks its way in, and How I Live Now becomes a grim story of survival. The novel often speaks in hazy information and vague nothings. Things that should be magical are brushed over; the impact of things like eating disorders and war and incest is explicit, but minimized, and like the novel as a whole, is told both passively and beautifully.