I’m always asked to recommend books - and it’s actually one of my favorite things to do. I read a lot, and I have at least twice as many opinions as are strictly necessary, so this is pretty much my sweet spot. In any event, while I have all sorts of specific recommendations for specific types of people, here are the books I generically have been recommending to everyone recently. They aren’t the “best” books I’ve read, or even the best books I’ve read over the past decade (FYI, best book: 2666 by Roberto Bolano), but they are some of the most entertaining books and/or the books most useful to get a sense of what types of things are good these days and what’s going on in the culture:
1. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
2. Enclave, by Ann Aguire
3. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
4. Cryptonomicon, by Neil Stephenson
5. Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway
6. Lexicon, by Max Barry
7. Graceling, Kristin Cashore
8. The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson
9. The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
10. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
11. Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante
12. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
13. Halting State, by Charles Stross
14. The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud
15. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
16. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
17. Wool, by Hugh Howey
18. NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
19. The Naturals, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
20. Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
The highly praised YA time travel thriller The Secret Root is free (!) on Kindle but only from July 29-August 2. This special Amazon promotion ends soon, so download your copy now! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LK59FG?ie=UTF8&at=aw-iphone-pc-us-20&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links
Over 3500 people downloaded it yesterday alone (that’s like 5 a minute!), and it’s now the #1 young adult action adventure download on Amazon! So what are you waiting for - get your copy now!! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LK59FG?ie=UTF8&at=aw-iphone-pc-us-20&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links
The way all sequels should be composed.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Action & Adventure
So what are you waiting for - download it now!
Thank you to the (literally) hundreds and hundreds of people who downloaded the special free promotion of The Secret Root yesterday - I’m thrilled that so many people will soon be sharing in the adventure! But tell your friends - the promotion lasts until tomorrow, and then everything goes back to normal!
For a limited time (February 19-21 only) Amazon is giving away the Kindle version of the awesome YA time travel thriller The Secret Root for free! That’s right - $0.00! This special Amazon promotion for the first volume of The Mesh Chronicles will end soon, so don’t delay - share this message and tell everyone!
So I have a problem - I have too many books to write, and too many books to read. I have five (!) books in process, and I keep getting pulled back to a different one, resulting in none of them getting finished (I have a “real” life so I only have so much time…). On the other hand, I have about 2 dozen books that I want to read, with almost that many of them already loaded onto my Kindle, and I can’t decide (do I want to read a serious bit of literature, a dystopian fantasy, or a brutal mystery? I don’t know!)
So do I work on the book that seems most likely to sell? The book that will be the best one in the end but that will take me ages to finish? the one that’s funny and entertaining? The awesome sequel to The Secret Root?
This is not, ironically, an unreasonable question to ask. This week’s New York Times Best Seller list for YA included only two women (as noted by famous librarian/advocate Kelly Jensen), which was bad enough. But what was even more extraordinary was the fact that (a) John Green held four of the top ten spots, (b) the two women on the list were writers specifically championed by John Green, and (c) Ransom Riggs, John Green’s good friend and former college roommate, held two of the remaining spots. That means that 8 of the top 10 spots were held by writers who were directly connected to (or, in fact, were) John Green.
I find this all to be rather puzzling in some respects, but strangely inevitable in others. On the puzzling side of the ledger: I am male, and I read a lot of YA (because I write YA myself, and love YA, and I have a teenaged kid who loves YA), and most of the YA I read is written by women. Seventeen (!) of the last 21 YA books I read were by women. The YA chatboards are dominated by women and girls (which is actually a serious concern of mine as boys are often not presumed to be a natural audience by the publishing industry - but that’s another post). So why are the YA best-seller lists dominated by men (and specifically by John Green)?
As a social media lawyer in my other life, I spend a lot of time thinking about the ways in which new forms of communication technology impact the “real” world of cultural production. And social media (more than almost any other recent form) privileges the first to market. Unlike, say, the traditional media business (where a newcomer like Fox News could become a dominant player within the space of a few years when it did not even exist in 1990), social media gives an outsized voice to the people who were there first. There are a great many technical reasons for that (the nature of how readership is built an maintained - again, another post) but the first people to dominate the space were men, and because of that the people who still dominate the space are men. And social media today is what sells books.
John Green (like Matt Yglesias, Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall, Ezra Klein, John Scalzi…I can go on) was an early adopter of these new tech platforms, and was able to develop a social following totally disproportionate to his “footprint” as an author. That has permitted him to spiral up in popularity way beyond what other people could ever have accomplished - simply by being first. This has given his voice a longer reach than virtually anyone else in the space. The fact that he is a man is also not a coincidence - it gave him credibility with “old media” and somehow gave credibility to a genre that was seen as somehow “less” because it was actually (at most levels) dominated by women. This is not a new phenomenon either - the validation of a genre by someone who is not part of the traditional field is a long-standing tradition. For many decades, for example, science fiction was only acceptable when it was written by someone who was not actually a science fiction writer. Similarly, for many in the wider world, YA is only acceptable when it is not written by women.
I happen to love John Green’s books, and his videos, and the great charitable things he’s done online. But his first-mover advantage is so enormous, and so extraordinary, that it threatens to distort the YA universe.
So what is to be done? John Green is a benevolent overlord - his books are great, his video series are awesome, and he champions a lot of books by other people. We can’t (and should not) go all Harrison Bergeron on him and try to keep him from succeeding. But what we should do is do more to champion the works of other people who are not John Green in a more concerted way - and that means encouraging major media outlets to cover more and different writers, sure, but also to take advantage of John Green. He’s got a movie coming out (you may have heard a few things about that…) and the YA community should realize that this is a huge opportunity. The major media will be focused on YA as never before, and the tastemakers and bloggers and tweeters and authors (and, yes, maybe John Green too) should use this opportunity to trumpet everyone else (Jennifer Lynn Barnes, for example, really needs to get a movie contract, stat).
So John Green may control the world, but that doesn’t mean that his dominance cannot be used to change the gravity of YA. I suspect John Green, in fact, would approve.
We’ve unexpectedly sold a lot of copies of the awesome YA time travel thriller The Secret Root in January 2014 - the second highest total on Kindle since the book’s official release nine months ago, and the month isn’t even over yet. Woo hoo! Have you “liked” the page on Facebook? Do it now! Keep telling your friends what an amazing book it is (we really need that word of mouth!) and keep reviewing the book on Amazon and Goodreads!!!! Do you follow The Secret Root on Twitter?
Don’t stop doing any/all of these things - after all, as Edie and Jared will tell you, time on our side!
Buy it here
Review it on Goodreads here