A-Z Book Recommendations

I’ve been seeing this type of video floating around on YouTube where people try to give a recommendation for a book starting with every letter of the alphabet. Here’s a link to one by Gavin and all the recommendations are middle-grade books. I wanted to give this a try but I’m already pretty sure I will be hard-pressed for some of the letters (I mean… X is a letter that exists!). In those instances, I’ll try and find a book on my TBR or research a book that interests me. Also, “the” doesn’t count. I’m going to try to keep it to one or two sentences about each book otherwise this will be the longest post ever so without further ado, let’s have some recommendations.

A

America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

I read this memoir following Bulosan’s experience immigrating to the US in the 1940s in grad school. He does not shy away from any horrible things he witnessed so be prepared but I definitely recommend this important story.

B

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I know, another memoir but stick with me. This is Cahalan’s story of trying to find a diagnosis after waking up in a hospital unsure of how she got there. This book explores the confusing line between mental and physical health. The Netflix adaptation isn’t too bad either.

C

Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat

I promise they’re not all going to be nonfiction but if you’re a writer or have interest in creating anything, check this out. This is a collection of personal essays by Hatian-American author Edwidge Danticat and specifically explores what it’s like to create as an immigrant while dealing with trauma and turmoil in your home country. There’s something here for everyone, though and the writing is beautiful.

D

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

This story exploring different types of grief and was one of my favorite books of 2020. Vivek’s mother finds his body wrapped in cloth at her door and readers see flashbacks of his life as well as his friends and family processing the fact that he’s dead. This book is short but packs so much.

E

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

I bet you thought I was going to say Emma. Well, I almost did but I want to show this intense horror novel some love. This book is shocking and disturbing and even though I’d seen the film about 100 times, I was still disturbed reading Blatty’s classic novel.

F

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

I’ll never stop talking about this graphic novel memoir. After her father’s death, Bechdel tries to learn more about her distant father and reflects on their interactions given the revelation that they are both queer. Not only is the writing amazing but the images add SO much to the story. This is one of my favorite books of all time.

G

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

This historical fiction is set in 1970s Alaska when a temperamental father decides to move his family there even though he doesn’t know anything about what it’s like to live in such a secluded place. The daughter, Leni, is stuck with her volatile father and devoted mother as they try to survive. This book is beautiful and heartbreaking and I related a lot to Leni.

H

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

I know a lot of people are talking about this as a romance and while there are romance elements, this is more about watching the main character try to figure out what she wants to do with her life after finishing school and dealing with her mental health. I related so much to this book and cried so many times while listening to the audiobook.

I

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

I could talk about In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado but there’s already so many memoirs on this list and there will probably be more so I decided to choose something I read a little while ago. This dark academia surrounding a group of Shakespeare students had me flipping the pages so fast! Rivalry, drama, love, betrayals, murder, and an ending that really did it for me. I don’t have a lot more to say about this one. Just pick it up.

J

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

This one was difficult to find but then I remembered I read this little sci-fi gem in grad school. Two researchers go back in time to meet Jane Austen and recover an unpublished novel. I don’t really love sci-fi but because Austen is there and there’s some romance and some social commentary, I was okay with it.

K

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Hear me out. I know this wasn’t MY favorite but I haven’t read any other “K” books AND a LOT of people do love this book. If you’re looking for a romance with autism and Vietnamese rep, this *might* be the one for you. While I don’t love some of Michael’s inner monologue or interactions with Stella, I do love these characters individually and, especially, Michael and his family.

L

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

It’s been a while since I read this YA romance but whenever I see someone mention it, I smile. This friends to lovers romance with an asexual main character was such a fun, cute story that also deals with themes of friendship. There’s summer vibes and they work in a library – what more could you want?

M

March vol. 1 by Nate Powell, John Lewis, and Andrew Aydin

I read this one in grad school for my comps exam. I really enjoyed this format as a way to talk about John Lewis’ life and the civil rights movement in America. This first volume talks about his youth and follows him meeting and working with Martin Luther King, Jr. I haven’t read the other two yet but I definitely want to.

N

Native Country of the Heart by Cherrie Moraga

I’m starting to think that I like memoirs more than I thought I did. I *also* read this in grad school. Cherrie Moraga is a Chicana, queer, feminist activist that worked on another of my favorites, The Bridge Called My Back. This memoir details, not only her own life, but also her mother’s life as she is dying of Alzheimer’s. This book explores culture and a loss of culture and trauma. The writing is phenomenal and this books gives readers so much to think about.

O

One Piece vol. 1 by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece is currently the longest running anime and manga series. It’s got pirates, comedy, magical fruits, and fight scenes. I think think this series is so endearing and I know I’ll NEVER catch up but I don’t really care. It’s such a cute story with so many cool characters. Go ahead and Google Tony Tony Chopper.

P

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

She’s LONG, I know! BUT there’s dragons, sapphics, battles, characters I love, brutal deaths, and political intrigue. I split this book over the course of a month and it really allowed me to live in the story for a while and I think that was probably the best way to read this lengthy, wonderful fantasy story.

Q

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

This is the first one that I haven’t read front to back. I did read sections of it for a class on Queer theory and I found that it was an interesting way to prepare for deeper discussions about theoretical concepts. I think this serves as a fun introduction but I will say that I don’t think everything is perfect about it. I do think it can be a good starting place for Queer theory and history and can spark some discussions.

R

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

Since the passing of Beverly Cleary last month, I’ve been reflecting on how important her children’s series was to me as a child. I read them over and over and loved that she wasn’t out to teach kids how to be “good” or perfect. She wrote kids who were kids and gave them agency. I adore this entire series so if you want some quick kids chapter books, this is it.

S

Sula by Toni Morrison

Another grad school read, Sula is a story about how two people who grew up together in the same place can take such different paths in life. Sula leaves her town do live out her dreams while her friend, Nel gets married. Their paths cross again and they have to navigate what their relationship looks like after all this time. If you enjoyed The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, This is a great story to pick up.

T

There, There by Tommy Orange

This multigenerational story follows twelve characters in the time leading up to and during the Big Oakland Powwow. Themes of identity, grief, and family are woven throughout the story and make for and interesting and deep look into the indigenous American community and the hardships they still face. Orange creates tension throughout the climax of this heartbreaking story.

U

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

I haven’t read this one yet but it’s on my Kindle patiently waiting. Mitchell tells the story of a fictional British rock band during the late 60s. I was down for another Daisy Jones type of book so this popped up on my radar. I’m excited to see what type of approach this author takes.

V

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

This is an interesting look into Queen Victoria’s life. I am bad at watching shows about this time in history but wanted to experience the PBS show in some capacity (I eventually watched it). This book is written by the same person who wrote the show and they’re pretty similar. A decent time if you’re interested in British history at all.

W

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

This crime novel gives insight into the way indigenous people have to often take the law into their own hands because the police won’t help. Virgil is known for taking on jobs police won’t touch and when one hits close to home, he’s incredibly motivated to solve the case. He quickly starts to uncover more than he expected. I listened to this via audiobook and really enjoyed it.

X

xxxHolic vol. 1 by CLAMP

I know CLAMP for creating Cardcaptor Sakura so when I was looking for a title that begins with ‘X’ that I was interested in, this one stuck out. Also, there’s a witch, ghosts, and a little shop setting so that was enough for me to want to talk about it here.

Y

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

This is literally the only book I can remember reading that starts with “Y” but it was a pretty enjoyable time so I’ll recommend it. I think Amy Poehler is pretty funny and she really put a lot into the audiobook production of this one, in particular. It’s very conversational in tone and she had guests such as Nick Offerman read sections so that was nice to hear.

Z

Z by Therese Anne Fowler

I think Zelda Fitzgerald is a fascinating character so I jumped at this historical fiction about her life before and with F. Scott Fitzgerald. I am generally fascinated by this time period and Fitzgerald’s works as well so this was a fun read. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and my heart ached for her and was frustrated with her at times. Amazon Prime made a show based on this story that was decent, too.

I can’t believe we made it to the end! I hope there was at least one recommendation in this list you were interested in – tell me which one(s)!!

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dearbookshelves

I'm somehow done with school and I still want to talk about books.

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