Entries in It has turned her brain (70)


Like Riordan and Gaiman? Try These. 

Dear Andrew,

I've been told that since yesterday's list was a big hit with your older sister, you now want a list of your own.

You're going to be a high school freshman in a couple of months, yes? You loved the Percy Jackson books a few years back, and you're currently enjoying Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. I like the sound of that.

All right, Andrew, I only know a little bit about you, but I couldn't resist the challenge. First of all, you should definitely read several of the books I recommended for your sister. There are some that are seriously girly, but I'm pretty sure you would groove on the rest. 

Then, see what you think about the list below. And here's the best part: if you discover that you love any of the following, please know that most of these writers have written lots of other fantastic books you can enjoy just as much. 

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
One of the very first--and in my opinion, best--cyberpunk novels. Hiro delivers pizza in real life, but he's a warrior prince in the Metaverse. Stephenson coined the word "infocalypse," and this book is all about warding it off.

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
If The Hunger Games left you hungry for more (or if it was too girly for you), check out this series about a group of boys trapped in a maze. Dark and twisty--literally.  

The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay
Anyone who likes Anansi Boys is sure to like The Fionavar Tapestry, the series that begins with The Summer Tree. It deals with gods and metamyths, too, but came before Gaiman's book and surely influenced it. 

I Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells
John Cleaver knows he's a sociopath, so he develops a strict set of rules for himself so that he doesn't imitate the serial killers he's obsessed with. While working at his mother's mortuary, he discovers that a predator has come to his small town, and John becomes the unlikeliest of heroes when he sets out to stop the murders. SO GOOD.

The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett
I envy anyone just starting Pratchett's Discworld novels. What a world awaits you! You will literally laugh out loud when you read this and the many books that follow. Highly addictive. 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Everyone should read this--not just because it's awesome, but also because it has become a highly influential piece of American pop culture. It's just as quotable as a Monty Python movie, and just as funny. 

Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
The creepiness is delicious, and the writing is gorgeous. Ray Bradbury's books are summer reading at its best. 

The Painted Boy, by Charles de Lint
Most of Charles de Lint's books occupy the Borderlands, a dark, nebulous place between the human world and...non-human...worlds. Those who love Gaiman will surely love de Lint. 

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
Another book about the infocalypse, this time with a teenage hacker hero. A very fast, very fun read. 

Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons writes both science fiction and horror, and it's all terrific. A bit of a riff on The Canterbury Tales, Hyperion will keep you up reading far into the night..  

Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
An old guy gets a new body to fight in a war against aliens. This thrilling novel would be a great book to compare and contrast with Ender's Game.  

The House with the Clock in Its Walls, by John Bellairs
Simple and short, but deceptively haunting. I don't know why Bellairs's books aren't better known, because they're brilliant. Ignore that they're now marketed to middle graders. They're Gothic fun for readers of any age. 

The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman
This amazing graphic novel tells the story of the Holocaust in stark, compelling fashion. 

Andrew, you'll notice that the above are all written by men. Here are a few books written by women that any manly, reading male should enjoy. Again, all these writers have written other books you should look for if the following pique your interest:

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Super bleak, but so good. One of the original dystopians, The Handmaid's Tale is now considered a modern classic. 

The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter
Carter did really scary stuff with classic fairy tales. Hollywood should be mining her stuff the way it mines that of Philip K. Dick.  

Kindred, by Octavia Butler
A time-travel novel about a woman who is abducted from modern-day reality into the pre-Civil War South. I've heard some college freshman are now required to read this. Get a jump on them. You won't regret it.  

Pretty Monsters, by Kelly Link
No one rocks short stories like Kelly Link. Super freaky--like Donnie Darko times a thousand. 

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
Yes, this is on your sister's list, along with a lot of other stuff you should read, but I'm mentioning it again because you'll love it. My boys did. This memoir was written by a woman, but her brother Brian was right there with her through the wildest childhood you can imagine.  

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
Written in 1969, it still reads as fresh as it when I first read it in the mid-1970s. It's one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. Read it to see why.  

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
This graphic novel is often compared to Maus and is also now required reading at many colleges. You'll laugh when you read it, but make sure you're by yourself, because it just might make you cry, too. 

All right, Andrew. I'd love to know what you think if you end up picking up any or all of the above and reading them. I'll look forward to hearing from you.


Luisa Perkins


Gateway Books

Ah, it’s summer—the perfect time to read, right? Not always, apparently.

Earlier today, Patrick texted me to ask for help. The teenage daughter of a colleague needed some book suggestions. She’s a good student, but isn’t much of a reader. Patrick asked me for a list of books that she might find appealing.

I was intrigued, but needed more information about the daughter. What does she want to major in at college? What are her hobbies? Does she like sports, fashion, or travel, for example? A book on a topic of interest can be a great hook for a non-reader.

Patrick replied that he knew she wants to study architecture, but didn’t know much more than that—except that she’s recently become interested in her Jewish heritage.

Aha, I thought. I can work with that. I wanted to go beyond Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. Those books are probably the top three recommended “gateway” series—books that often can get non-readers reading--but everybody knows about them. I wanted to go deeper. Following is the list of books (in no particular order) that I assembled, which includes a couple of books about Jewish teens.

The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen
My darling, 23-year-old hairdresser adores Sarah Dessen. Dessen’s books are always accessible and pertinent to the challenges of today’s teens. She’s almost a Jodi Picoult for young adults.

Austenland, by Shannon Hale
When a Mr. Darcy-obsessed NYC singleton is given a trip to Austenland, an English theme park for adults, hilarity and unlikely romance ensue. Delightful.

The Stranger Within Sarah Stein, by Thane Rosenbaum
As Sarah rides her bike back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge between her divorced parents’ apartments, she discovers surprising things about herself and the family she thought she knew.

13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
On his porch, Clay finds a box of cassettes recorded by his classmate, Hannah—who committed suicide two weeks ago. He follows her taped instructions and is shocked by the mystery he unravels. Unputdownable.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Hazel and Augustus both have cancer. They fall in love anyway. This immensely popular book is a tearjerker in the most satisfying of ways.

Prince William, Maximilian Minsky, and Me, by Holly-Jane Rahlens
Nelly is crazy for Britain's Prince William, but how will a geeky, astronomy-loving, bat mitzvah-planning, German-American girl meet her prince? Funny and heartfelt.

Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson
Scarlett has grown up in a shabby NYC hotel owned by her quirky family. A handsome would-be actor and a mysterious semi-celebrity bring even more chaos into Scarlett’s topsy-turvy life.
Manhattan + Romance = Win.

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
Anna gets sent to a Parisian boarding school against her will. I have a few problems with this book, but it’s hugely popular and a fun read despite its flaws.

Epic Fail, by Claire LaZebnik
A retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a chic Hollywood prep school. Pure, delicious candy.

Variant, by Robison Wells
Fast-paced and freaky, this award-winning sci-fi suspense novel set in (yet another) boarding school begs to be made into a movie.

Matched, by Ally Condie
One of the very best of the current dystopian craze.

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
It’s a sci-fi classic. It’s a forthcoming movie starring Harrison Ford and Hailee Steinfeld. It’s awesome.

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
This memoir is heartbreaking, laugh-out-loud funny, and life-changing. I gave 20 copies away on World Book Night last year—I love it that much.

Was, by Geoff Ryman
A (sort-of) retelling of The Wizard of Oz. One of my favorite contemporary fantasy novels of all time. Wrenching and brilliant.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Writing doesn’t get better than this. Published in 1960, this classic is still fresh, vivid, and beautiful.

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
Deliciously creepy, this book’s melancholia and mystery stay with the reader long after the last page is read.

And of course, I recommend Dispirited, by Luisa M. Perkins. ;)
Night after night, Blake leaves his body in order to search for his dead mother. But when another being takes over his body, Blake watches this malevolent impostor live the life that should be his. After his father remarries, Blake seeks help from his stepsister, Cathy, who possesses unusual gifts of her own.
Cathy sees things invisible to everybody else. A ghostly child. An abandoned house in the woods. Her new stepbrother's bizarre behavior. But she doesn't see how they're all connected. And what she doesn't see just might kill her.

So, there's my list. What would you add?


I Never Metafiction I Didn't Like (Repost)

I originally wrote this post almost five years ago, but I felt like reposting it today. I'm off to LTUE tomorrow, and I'll report in when I get back. In the meantime, enjoy!

I've been pondering all things meta this week.

Well, not all things. But definitely many things meta-related-to-the-arts.

I've been playing a game inside my head as I've done the dishes or driven people to sports practices or tried to get back to sleep in the middle of the night after going to the bathroom for the fourteenth time.

(It's just one of the many crazy games I play all alone in this head o' mine, another being "List all the adjectives with the suffix '-id.'")

The game is this: list all the films about film. Now all the songs about songs. Now all the poems about poetry. Now all the theater about theater. And now (my favorite part) all the fiction about fiction.*

Ready? Go.

Films About Film
(or TV About TV)

The Player
Singin' in the Rain
The Truman Show
30 Rock
Studio 60
The Simpsons
Stranger than Fiction
 (borderline: a film about fiction writing)

Songs About Songs, Singers, and/or Singing

"Hey, Mister Tambourine Man" (The Byrds)
"Thank You for the Music" (ABBA)
"Sing a Song" (Earth, Wind, and Fire)
"I Write the Songs" (Barry Manilow)
"If Music Be the Food of Love" (Shakespeare/Purcell)
"Piano Man" (Billy Joel)
"Rock and Roll Band" (Boston)
"Killing Me Softly" (Roberta Flack)
"The Day the Music Died" (Don McLean)
"This is Not a Love Song" (Public Image, Ltd.)

Poems About Poetry

"Essay on Criticism" (Alexander Pope)
"Don Juan" (parts of it; Lord Byron)
"Ars Poetica" (Archibald MacLeish)
"The Uses of Poetry" (William Carlos Williams)
"There is no frigate like a book" (Emily Dickinson)
"The High-Toned Old Christian Woman" (Wallace Stevens)

Theater About Theater

All That Jazz (Well, okay. It's a film about theater.)
Kiss Me, Kate
The Taming of the Shrew
The Producers
A Chorus Line
42nd Street
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Picasso at the Lapin Agile
The Mousetrap

Fiction About Fiction (and this would be my wheelhouse, people)

The Princess Bride (William Goldman)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
Little, Big (John Crowley)
Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
The Decameron (Giovanni Boccaccio)
Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (Italo Calvino)
Anything written by Jasper Fforde
The Neverending Story (Michael Ende)
English Music (Peter Ackroyd)
The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
An awful lot of Kurt Vonnegut
And a whole bunch of that Pratchett genius
Leaf by Niggle (J.R.R. Tolkien)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket)
Atonement (Ian MacEwan)
The Dark Tower, etc. (Stephen King)
Possession (A.S. Byatt)
The Book of Three (Lloyd Alexander)
A Princess of Roumania, etc. (Paul Park)

What about you? Can you add to the lists?

*LDS readers, here's a fun study topic: revelation about revelation. And extra credit: revelation about Revelation.


Don't Fear the Reaper

"I’d lost sight of heaven, God, and everything good, but not Jordan. Some things
transcended both life and death. Some things never died."

Haunted by memories of her murdered twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her only ticket to eternal peace. But in death, she discovers the afterlife is nothing like she expected. Instead of peaceful oblivion or a joyful reunion with her sister, Keely is trapped in a netherworld on Earth with only a bounty-hunting reaper and a sarcastic demon to show her the ropes.

I do love stories about the afterlife, and Michelle Muto has written a good one. This novel is just how I like them--dark, but with the promise of redemption. Plus, the title rocks--Blue Öyster Cult's single is one of my favorite songs from my youth. (I'm also excited to read her latest book, The Haunting Season. I just downloaded it, and it is creepyyyyyy!)

Would you like a free e-copy of Don't Fear the Reaper? Leave me a comment, and on Wednesday, February 6, I'll choose one winner via random number generator. 


Interview and Giveaway! 

The lovely ladies at Writing4Two asked me if they could interview me for their Feature Friday event, and I gladly agreed. Go over and read our conversation, then enter to win a copy of Dispirited. Tell your friends!