Reading slumps are such bores. One always wonders if it’s the books’ fault or yours. One always wonders if you’ll ever fall in love again. Days, weeks, months. Then of course along comes a book that knocks the breath out of you and you laugh at yourself for ever doubting the power of the written word.
The last book that really did that for me was Clarke’s Piranesi, a book I loved so thoroughly that I felt certain it would cure me of ever doubting the joy of reading ever again.
Instead, I fell into a slump faster than ever before. It was as if loving a novel with the same ferocity of my book-loving youth made all the “eh, fine” experiences that came after it absolutely intolerable. I didn’t want to read something that was just ok. I wanted to love something. Actually, I wanted to hate something. I wanted to feel strongly about something.
Yesterday I asked readers for book recommendations. I said:
Give me your plague doctor pop up books and your murderous surgical residents thrillers and your unicorn shapeshifters running for president memoirs and your vampire prose poems illustrated by disillusioned rock stars.
I want the biographies of the person who invented the disgusting Simple Green scent, World War II told from the point of view of only ash trees, happy ever afters told in reverse.
I want prose that stands up and walks around on its own two legs before stealing your laundry and slipping out the back, characters you watch to see the disaster unfold, child prodigies with large vocabularies and large vocabularies without mouths.
And wow, did readers blow me away. On Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, I got the most remarkable recommended book lists I’ve ever gotten from the internet. Many of them I’ve read and loved already, which only confirmed that yes: this was the list I needed. I’m sharing it here, too, so you guys can also enjoy these massive weird lists.