Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where book bloggers are invited to share their top ten lists centered on a certain theme.
This week’s theme was books to get you out of a reading slump. I definitely had a long reading slump for most of my college years, when I was reading a lot for my English degree but very little of what I actually loved to read. Finally, after finishing school, I got out of my slump and fell back in love with reading. Now I love helping others get out of their slumps or fall in love with reading for the first time.
1. Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet edited by Jennifer Armentrout
Goodreads Summary: “Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors…This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.”
My thoughts: Anthologies are such a great way to get out of a reading slump, because you can skip around and just read the stories you’re interested in; they’re also a great way to find new authors that you love and want to read more of. “Meet Cute” was one that I really enjoyed, and every single story in it was unique. My absolute favorites were the ones by Nina LaCour, Meredith Russo, Julie Murphy, and Emery Lord (but it’s full of tons of other amazing authors, too!).
2. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Goodreads Summary: “A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually used his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator?
Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.
And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.”
My thoughts: I’ve already raved about “Long Way Down” in a previous Top Ten post, but I had to include it in this one, too. It’s one of the most unique YA plots I’ve ever read, taking place just over the course of an elevator ride, and Jason Reynolds’s skillful use of gut-punch prose makes it a quick, powerful read.
3. Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Goodreads Summary: “Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.
As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?”
My thoughts: If you read Tiffany D. Jackson’s novel “Allegedly,” then you know how addictive her writing is. “Monday’s Not Coming” is full of mystery and is so chillingly eerie that it really hooks you and makes you want to read more.
4. Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
Goodreads Summary: “Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.
But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.”
My thoughts: This was such a unique book, and I think retellings are a great way to get out of a slump because they’re familiar, yet refreshing. I actually read this without having read Jayne Eyre (I didn’t even know most of the plot) and I still enjoyed it so much.
5. CatStronauts by Drew Brockington
Goodreads Summary: “CatStronauts, you are needed!
When the world is thrust into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the Worlds Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up, and that adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the best space cats on the planet! Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket, and quick thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet!”
My thoughts: When I’m in a reading slump, I love to take a break and recharge with a fun kid’s graphic novel that is super silly. “CatStronauts” was recently one of my favorites because it was super cute and full of cats (which, obviously, I love).
6. Spill Zone by Scott Westerfield
Goodreads Summary: “Nobody’s ever really explained the Spill. Was it an angelic visitation? A nanotech accident? A porthole opening from another world? Whatever it was, no one’s allowed in the Spill Zone these days except government scientists and hazmat teams. But a few intrepid explorers know how to sneak through the patrols and steer clear of the dangers inside the Zone. Addison Merrick is one such explorer, dedicated to finding out what happened that night and to unraveling the events that took her parents and left her little sister mute and disconnected from the world.”
My thoughts: Graphic novels really are such a great way to pull yourself out of a slump, and “Spill Zone” was such a unique one that blended science fiction with creepy horror elements. It kept me reading and I tore through this one so fast.
7. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
Goodreads Summary: “One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.
If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.”
My thoughts: Even if you’re not a fan of non-fiction, “The 57 Bus” is one of the most fascinating, compelling stories you’ll ever read. The events of the book are familiar to many in the US but this book presents the much more complex stories behind that bus ride. This is a must-read that will truly make you want to keep reading about Sasha and Richard.
8. A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor
Goodreads Summary: “Emma had always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two had always been best friends. Until something happened that wrecked them.
Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in this gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart.
To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this—or anything. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present?”
My thoughts: There are so many YA books about sisters, but this was one of the most refreshing takes on it ever. The island setting, the feelings of desperation, and the way the island mirrored the abandonment felt between Emma and Henri made this book unlike any other.
9. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Goodreads Summary: “A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine’s long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.”
My thoughts: “Citizen” is a quick read, but one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. The mix of poems, prose, and images make this book really unique and adds more power to the subject matter.
10. All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Goodreads Summary: “Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .”
My thoughts: This novel mixes a lot of different mediums, including interview transcripts, emails, text, diary entries, and more. Mixed-format novels are always so fun and such a nice break when you’re sick of reading traditional novels.
What books have helped you get out of a reading slump?