the book thief

Bout of books number 13: prizewinner and challenge wrap up

This post is coming a little later than I had wanted, but I’ve had to take the past week easy because I’ve not been well. However, this is the final thing for Bout of Books I wanted to do, and here it is. On day Four of Bout of Books I hosted the Modern to Classic Challenge and there were so many awesome responses, that I felt like I should write a little wrap up and summary of the submissions. I will not pick on anyone but I want to talk in general terms of the books that so many people spoke about. There were some trends that seemed to stick out, for example, a large bunch of these novels fell into the dystopian genre.

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The most nominated novel would have to be The Hunger Games. So many people stated that this book breathed new life into the dystopian genre and therefore would be considered a classic for years to come. I think The Hunger Games is wildly popular right now but I wonder if the popularity will last 50 years, but at this point we cannot know and I respect that most people in the book blogging community hold The Hunger Games as being one of the best novels of this generation.

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Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows also had many votes. I had a feeling if I did not put the 10 year restriction on the challenge that everyone would just say Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I did not expect so many people to still advocate the last book of the series. However, so many people love this series that I should not be surprised!

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Other novels that deserve honourable mentions include The Fault in Our Stars which I have not read or seen the film. I am not sure my views on John Green, I have seen some literature out there that criticises his style of writing and the way he portrays teenagers which makes me dubious and I usually do not recommend him to my students, because I have not read his work. He is wildly popular and maybe I need to pluck my head out of the sand and read one of his books because apparently the Fault in Our Stars is going to be a classic one day.

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Ready Player One seems to be well respected and there were many reasons for why this book would be considered a classic in the future.Its one of those books that everyone has heard of, even if they haven’t read it! Although, everyone should read it.

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It would be remiss of me if I did not mention The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak many people answered the challenge with this book, and with many different reasons. I do love The Book Thief, but  just like with The Hunger Games I am not sure if this book’s hype will last for long enough.

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Other honourable mentions go to The Help and the works of Rainbow Rowell. My ignorance of Rowell’s books will mean that I refrain from making any comment, but the winner of the challenge did pick her novel Eleanor & Park as her pick.

I noticed that so many of the books were YA or borderline YA, there were few dense heavy books put forth. This is really interesting, because I think so many of the classics of the past were dense and sometimes difficult to read, whereas most of the books of our generation that get hugely popular are easy to read. I’m not sure if this is just because of the blogosphere’s obsession with YA, or if it reflects the wider population…

I would like to congratulate Keely, of I Read It and Wept, for winning! Please check out her blog, she has some really interesting content!

Recommendations: War Narratives

Recommendation postsI was asked to write a list of historical fiction and war narratives that I would recommend to readers, while I was part of the Bookish People collaboration. I’ve decided to share part of that list with my usual blog – the war narrative part. The following are four excellent books that I have enjoyed over the years – for differing reasons. Some are well known, others are obscure or not discussed much by the blogging community. One’s a classic, another, a pulpy action novel. I love them all.

In my opinion a war narrative can be written about current events but must be fictional, no autobiographies or memoirs, however they can be written by experienced soldiers about fictional characters.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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The Book Thief is a wonderful exploration of WWII from a unique viewpoint. It produced torrents of tears that I cried in public. It is very well known and much loved, for good reason. If all the people saying how wonderful this book is scared you from reading it, pick it up right now and you can thank me later. It is so wonderfully accessible and loveable and popular so you can squee about it with other bookish people.

2. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

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All Quiet on the Western Front was the first war narrative I read, and I used it for my final year assignment in high school. Its high on my list of favourite novels and it is widely hailed by critics as ‘The Greatest War Novel of ALL TIME.’ It’s the book I always point people towards when they ask for a war novel recommendation.

3. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

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If All Quiet on the Western Front was the novel that started me on the path of war narratives, Matterhorn would be the narrative I fell in love with. It is not an easy read – it is long, full of jargon and a heavy plot to digest. However, if you stick with it the rewards are astonishing as Marlantes has crafted the perfectly poignant and devastating account of the Vietnam War. It took Marlantes 30 years to write, and it has been honed to perfection. READ THIS BOOK.

4. Tenth Man Down by Chris Ryan

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All of the other books on this list have been somewhat literary, and my last addition, Tenth Man Down, breaks the literary tradition in half, double taps it and throws a witty one liner. The tagline of this book is ‘Who wins? The SAS or the Navy Seals?’ but if I remember correctly, *plot twist* everybody loses. It is book four in the Geordie Sharp series, and is epically good if you have read the previous instalments, but still good as a standalone. One of Ryan’s other novels, Strike Back, has been adapted into an excellent miniseries with Richard Armitage if you want some man candy to accompany your war action-y goodness. Avoid the US version, it’s rubbish.

Well – I’m sure I’ve missed some canonical gems. Please feel free to tell me I got it all wrong, although I possibly will argue to death. If I’ve just rec’ed a book you have read – is its inclusion in my list justified, or am I completely off my head? Am I missing your favourite war novel? I probably am!