One of the most frustrating experiences for me, in a definite “First World Problems” kind of way, is being in a bookstore during a sale and not being able to take advantage of it. Not because I lacked the funds to buy more books, of course, but because I couldn’t find more books I was willing to buy for full price.
I was at my local Barnes & Noble just yesterday, Starbucks coffee in hand, looking for the next volume of a manga I’m readying. While lazily scanning the shelves, I found that there was a sale on manga: buy two, get the third for free. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find another series that looked super interesting to me based on the cover and a quick skim. For those of you who read manga, you know that’s a pretty terrible way to judge them, but there’s not much else to go off of other than that without a recommendation from a friend or trusted reviewer. My go-to friend was busy ignoring his phone and none of the review sites I checked could help with my selection, so I had no help at all.
After futilely wandering the manga section for another 10 minutes without a reply from my friend, I made my peace with my single purchase only to go over to the mass-market paperback section and find a similar sale. Buy two, get the third for free. There was only one Terry Pratchett book in that section that I didn’t own and none of the other books looked terribly fun or engaging.
Being a somewhat picky reader, I couldn’t find any information from my trusted sources without searching every title individually and I had been standing around for long enough already that any more time would have felt awkward. Especially because a whole slew of people had come and gone while I dithered. I skimmed around for the other books I wanted–a replacement copy of Red Rising since I stuck my old copy in a Christmas grab bag and the third book in the trilogy, Morning Star–but none of them were a part of the sale.
There I was, standing around with two books that were a part of identical sales but didn’t qualify for each other’s sale (yeah, I asked), and zero inclination to buy anything else I could find. So I took my four books, grabbed two more Pratchett books that weren’t a part of the sale, and cried bitter tears as I said good-bye to my chance at cheap new books. It was a tough thing to do, to walk out of there with a sale whispering sweetly into my ear and wallet, but I had nothing to buy.
If you should happen to find yourself in a similar place, I’ll make some recommendations now so you can avoid my pitiable fate. I highly recommend checking out Tokyo Ghoul if you don’t mind a little gore and would like a refreshing and well-written take on zombiism. It follows the life of a young man who gets turned into one of these “ghouls” as the result of a life-saving surgery and how he struggles to find his place in both societies. There is plenty of action and drama, but the characters are endearing, believable, and worth the wait for each new volume.
As far as sci-fi goes, I recommend the Red Rising trilogy–by Pierce Brown–if you like sci-fi and social commentary. It’s a bit heavy-handed at times (nowhere near as heavy-handed as some of the older sci-fi is, though) and a bit dense to read because of the stylized language Brown uses, but it’s definitely a pleasant read and a very engaging story. The protagonist is a young man from the lowest caste of society, a Red, who is the chief earner for his clan, who takes his place in a rebellion against their Gold overlords after his wife is killed for singing a particular song.
In less detailed terms, Brandon Sanderson is always enjoyable and anything by Jim Butcher is worth a read. Terry Pratchett is great for humor, as is Douglas Adams. Stephen King is great if you enjoy macabre stories and crude shock-value (seriously, the guy breaks/challenges social rules purely for the shock value they bring to his stories). Brian Jacques is one of my first favorites and Terry Brooks has a large series out that is now drawing to an end. I’ve got plenty more where all that came from, but dropping all those names would double the length of this blog post, so I’ll leave it at that for now.