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What to Read?

Look at this...second blog post IN A ROW. Shazam!!!

Because of my job, I read TONS of books. If I'm not reading one (or two, or three), I'm probably listening to one on my phone or my computer (or both).

Please do not be amazed or jealous. If anything, be slightly weirded-out. I know it's not normal to read that much; I know there are those of you thinking, "I would give my right arm to have 5 minutes a day to myself to PEE, let alone be able to read a book."

But there are books of all sizes, shapes, and lengths waiting to be read, and I want to share some of my favorites with you today. People often ask for a good book to read, and when on the spot, I tend to blank. So I've actually taken some time to think through some of the recent titles I've read.

I'm including five of my favorite books that I've read over the past couple of weeks. Some of the books are for grown-ups, some for kids, but all offer a compelling story

while engaging readers. At least they did for me.

I hope they do the same for you.

Set in California in 1974, Armstrong & Charlie chronicles the friendship that unexpectedly develops between Armstrong Le Rois, a bright African-American boy with loads of potential and a chip on his shoulder, and Charlie Ross, a naive middle school kid with a tragic past. Frank crafts realistic, tangible characters and injects a razor sharp wit into the dialogue. Honestly, this book has recently become one of my all-time favorites.

Okay, so I'm not exactly finished with this one yet, and I'm not technically reading it; I'm listening to it. But Vance's first-hand analysis of modern-day Appalachia captivates me. The stark contrast between my own life and the way in which a portion of today's society lives brings attention to both the rich heritage of "mountain folk" and the insurmountable obstacles they face on a daily basis. I love Vance's colorful cast of characters - his family actually, and the anecdotes he shares with his readers. Just a note - this is probably not suitable for younger kids due to the language and the nature of some of the topics discussed.

Maybe another stretching of the truth here. I read this book last year, but it left a lasting impression on me, and remains one of my favorite titles. The story of two cousins trying to cross the border into the United States, The Only Road offers an intimate look at the complex and varied reasons families choose to cross...or send those they love on to what they hope is a better life. Harrowing and intense at times, I love the optimism of the characters and the deep devotion they have for one another.

Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Don't judge me. Seriously, not fair.

I tend not to jump on the fiction bandwagon with books like this, but I became curious, so I listened to this series through Overdrive from my local library.

And I liked it. Not because the writing is amazing or the plot super compelling, but for the reason I like all dystopian fiction; it reflects some flawed part of current society in a way that makes me stop and think about my own responsibility for making the world a better place.

Filled with action, suspense, and lots of fighting, the first three books held my attention and kept me coming back for more. But (spoiler alert!), I hated the ending.

One thing I like to do is read books that stretch me a little bit. This year, I've been trying to select titles where the featured characters are minorities or people existing on the fringes of society. Little Bee popped up as a recommendation from my local library, so I went for it.

It's a story of the intertwined lives of two women, the things that bring them together, and the tragedy that threatens them both.

While many parts of the book offer a funny take on what it's like to be a foreigner in a new country, the events leading up to a move to England prove horrific. At times, the suffering in the novel is hard to take...harder still to imagine it reflects real life. Definitely worth a read, and should certainly be shared with a friend.

That's it friends! Grab one of these beauties today, and you won't be sorry! And let me know what you think once you read one. Leave a comment on the blog or visit Story Trekker on Facebook.

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