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  • Lev Lyonne

If You Wanna Write, You Gotta Read: October 2019 Book List

Here is what I read in October. Not as many titles as September, but this month turned out to be filled with exams. Even so, I hope you find something that piques your interest!

1) Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

"A collection of short stories that blends fantasy, wit, and the unusual."

Sometimes short stories are the perfect thing to curl up with. And when they are written by Neil Gaiman, there is an extra layer of intrigue that pulls you in with every line. If you are looking for something fun and quick, where you can jump around from story to story, then Trigger Warning is perfect. Some of the stories were a bit longer and some I found myself skimming, but on the whole, I greatly enjoyed this collection.

Some of my favorite stories included "The Sleeper and the Spindle", "Orange", "The Thing About Cassandra", "A Calendar of Tales", and "Jerusalem".

2) The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

"A mysterious book of dark fairy tales and a girl's destiny within them."

The first half of The Hazel Wood is near perfection for me. I was drawn in by the mystery of it all, the clear yet beautiful prose, and the idea of a dangerous book. It was the kind of YA that I rarely see...something dripping in originality.

The second half pulled me out a bit. It felt like the author took a sharp turn into something a bit more childish. Some of the magic was lost and I...I just can't figure out why. My heart dropped in the second half but nevertheless, I enjoyed The Hazel Wood and I would recommend it to lovers of YA mystery/ fantasy.

3) Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

"At Yale University, black magic holds the key to success...and failure."

I have been looking forward to this book for so, so long.

And it blew my expectations out of the water.

If you love mystery, if you love magic, if you love dark characters and even darker plots, then Ninth House is for you. The writing was some of Bardugo's best...and she has definitely proven that she can write adult fiction. I took 10 days to read this book, which is much longer than I usually take, because I wanted to savor every moment.

I'm having trouble finding the words to describe how much I enjoyed this book. Let's just say I cannot wait to read it again.

4) A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs

"Two tales of 'cosmic horror' in one book."

I'll be honest, I took this book home from the library because it has a beautiful cover. And it came with the promise of "cosmic horror", which I thought would be perfect for an October read.

I'll be honest again. I didn't even finish this book.

The first story was alright. If this story had come out without the other one, I would have enjoyed the experience a lot more. The second story was boring and rambling and full of song lyrics. I just couldn't force myself to pay attention. I set the second story down without finishing it.

Another thing that bothered me was the writing felt smug. I hate when authors know they are smart and all their pretentious airs sink into their books. I kept rolling my eyes at some phrasing and descriptions...it all felt quite irritating.

5) The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

"When the opera house of Venice burns down, the reader is taken through the city and introduced to a bevy of Venetians."

Most books about cities, especially the ones I've read about Venice, present their city in an old and distant light. This book presents Venice and Venetians in a more modern light, while weaving history and culture in as well. It read like fiction and the writing was clean and lovely. I thought that this book was fascinating and could be a great resource for future writing projects. If you have any interest in Venetians, this could definitely be the book for you.

6) Light the Dark by various authors

"Snippets of inspiration from famous and wonderful writers."

In this book, a ton of authors talk about one line of literature that has inspired them the most. They each dissect the line, talk about their history with it, and then give the reader some writing tips. My personal favorite entry was from Lev Grossman. He talked about the magic of Narnia, how sloppy yet wonderful it is, and I found the whole section tremendously inspiring.

If you're a writer, please check out this book. If you're not a writer, it is still a great and fulfilling read!

Until next time,