Ivana is a graduated philologist from the University of Belgrade.
In A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin said: A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
If you're reading this article, that means you're determined to live as many lives as you possibly can. In your search for an ideal new book you should read, you probably realized one interesting thing - the same book titles appear in every list across the Internet. All of those books are amazing, but it's not really a new recommendation if it appears everywhere, right?
That's why, in continuation, I will try to mention five books that are good and popular enough, but not so frequently included in the book lists. In addition, I will make a list of books that contain contemporary topics and issues of the modern era.
5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
This masterpiece for all times was published in 1960. It was considered to be a daring novel in the time of publication, and nowadays, in more ways than one, it could still be considered as such. The story is inspired by some of the author's experiences and events that took place when she was only ten years old, growing up in Alabama.
The storyline follows a child named Jean Louise Finch, called Scout, as she's growing up along with her elder brother Jem. Their father, Atticus, is an lawyer appointed to defent a black man called Tom Robinson, unjustly accused of raping a young, white woman. Throughout this trial, the children learn a lot about racism, prejudices, hatred, unfair treatment of innocent people, and fake justice.
The book itself can cause a mixture of emotions, from sorrow to happiness, from anger to tolerance, and from hate to love. It's filled with great life lessons, and in general, it belongs in everyone's memory.
4. NORWEGIAN WOOD by Haruki Murakami
“I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it -- to be fed so much love I couldn't take any more. Just once. ”
Norwegian wood (Noruwei no Mori) was published in 1987. It's a haunting story of loss, mental illness, suicide, hurt, and love. The most important thing to remember is that it contains more than one possible trigger, should be approached carefully, and only when the reader feels ready for an abundance of emotion and lots of tears.
The story follows Toru Watanabe, who goes back into the past in his mind once he hears the cover of the famous song Norwegian Wood, originally performed by the Beatles. He instantly remembers two of his friends, Kizuki and Naoko, and everything that happened later on. After Kizuki committed suicide on his 17th birthday, both Toru and Naoko were shattered inside out. Each of them had to learn to cope with that in their own way and pace. Naoko had to learn to live with one part of her heart completely broken and dead, while Toru learned to live with ominous shadow of death hanging above him and everyone he ever loved. Toru also had to struggle with his feelings for Naoko, as well as Midori, a girl who befriends him after Kizuki's suicide.
The amazing book covers several different suicides, the feelings that haunt the ones who still have to go on after one's suicide, but also the complicated dilemmas all of us could face, in terms of conflicted feelings, thoughts, and needs.
3. THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS by Isabel Allende
"The fear is something from within us that has nothing to do with reality.”
The debut novel of a successful author, The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espíritus) was published in 1982. There is a more famous book that deals with a similar topic is certainly One Hundred Years of Solitude written by Gabriel García Márquez, but Allende's version has its own charms and is equally good.
Both books are multi-generational stories of one family, but Allende's version differs by having the main focus on the female members of a family. The story follows the youngest and the oldest daughters of the family del Valle, Clara and Rosa. Clara is the one with paranormal powers, and she keeps a detailed diary of all major events in her life. After Rosa's death, Clara ends up married to her sister's betrothed, Esteban Trueba, and moves to his estate.
Telling the story of three generations of the family, Allende also manages to paint their victories and losses, tragedies and fortunes. The most important topic of the story is the ambition and thirst for power in some family members, the consequences of such motives, and the cost for it that had to be payed by other family members. It's a perfect circle of cause and consequence, love and hatred, pain and happiness.
And the circle is, of course, a never-ending story.
2. THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
“Expectations are like hidden rocks in your path—all they do is trip you up.”
This award-winning novel was published in 2008. In its essence, it's innovative, intriguing, and completely refreshing. It's a re-imagining of a world-famous, mythological epic Mahabharata.
The story line follows a mysterious, smart, and interesting woman, and tells a tale of her birth, growing up, and marrying all five of the legendary Pandavas brothers who were exiled out of their father’s kingdom. She follows them on their quest to reclaim their birthright, and witnesses all events that occur on such a quest, including the war. Panchaali, the most beautiful woman of her time, finds herself constantly balancing between the Pandavas brothers, the exile and war, complicated relationship with her mother-in-law, conflicted feelings towards one of the enemies, and the nature of her friendship with Krishna.
The talented author successfully narrates a tale of a woman living in a patriarchal world, in time of soldiers and warriors, and the blood clamps of war.
1. THE SHADOWHUNTER CHRONICLES by Cassandra Clare
“I had never realized before how much you can take from someone by not allowing them the words they need to describe themselves."
— Lord of Shadows
Clare's work is mentioned at the end of this list for one simple reason: it's not a single book, but a book series. The series is written by Judith Lewis under the pen name Cassandra Clare, and it narrates the tales about different generations in different time eras. The Shadowhunter Chronicles is a multimedia franchise made of five novel series, three short-story collections, four graphic novels, one film, and a television series.
Every story line is set in the same fantasy environment, where supernatural and human worlds and cultures are intertwined and connected. A race of humans with angel blood, the Shadowhunters, spend their days in a constant war with demons, warlocks, faeries, werewolves, and vampires, preventing them from harming the ordinary humans called the mundanes. But the story is more complicated than that, and nothing is as is seems at first glance. The author injected many contemporary issues in the fantasy world of angels and demons.
In the book series, the reader will come across many familiar topics: friendship, dedication, love, bravery, cowardice, racism, prejudices, misogyny, bigotry, violence, mental illness, stigma around autism, struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community, struggles of all younger and older Shadowhunters as well as supernatural beings. Cassandra Clare paints a faithful presentation of a modern age, and a whole situation in our world, virtues and flaws, with the addition of epic battles, paranormal details, and a lot of mythology.
The Shadowhunter Chronicles Book List
The Mortal Instruments
City of Bones (2007)
City of Ashes (2008)
City of Glass (2009)
City of Fallen Angels (2011)
City of Lost Souls (2012)
City of Heavenly Fire (2014)
The Infernal Devices
Clockwork Angel (2010)
Clockwork Prince (2011)
Clockwork Princess (2013)
The Dark Artifices
Lady Midnight (2016)
Lord of Shadows (2017)
Queen of Air and Darkness (2018)
The Last Hours
Chain of Gold (2020)
Chain of Iron (upcoming)
Chain of Thorns (upcoming)
The Eldest Curses
The Red Scrolls of Magic
The Lost Book of White
The Black Volume of the Dead (upcoming)
- Several short-story collections, graphic novels and collaboration novels.
I made the choice of books for three reasons:
1. All are masterpieces of extremely talented authors who deserve every word of praise for their hard work.
2. The books are talked about frequently enough, but still don't get enough attention on the book lists as many other books do.
3. Main topics and focuses of the books are something that we can all resonate with, because we can also see the same situations everywhere we look around in the real world.
Did you read some of the books on the list? What did you think about them? What books would you recommend?
© 2020 Ivana Divac
Ivana Divac (author) from Serbia on October 17, 2020:
Thanks a lot! We all get lazy when it comes to reading from time to time.
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 17, 2020:
These sound interesting. I must admit I have become a bit lazy when it comes to reading books.
I do enjoy reading a few on my kindle app but holding a book in my hands to read is non- existent.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 13, 2020:
I've read To Kill a Mockingbird but these others are new to me and I'm going to have to check them out.
Ivana Divac (author) from Serbia on October 12, 2020:
Thanks, everyone! You're very kind.
BookLover on October 12, 2020:
Great list. I've read The House of the Spirirs and Norwegian Wood, but I look forward to reading the rest of the books you mentioned.
Annie Poe from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India on October 11, 2020:
Well i have read the shadowhunters series and there is of course Tales from Shadowhunter Academy as a part of the series.
Casey White on October 11, 2020:
I haven't read any of these books but they all do sound interesting. I use to read all the time then decided to pursue a few graduate degrees and stopped reading for fun. Now I'm done and ready to find new books to enjoy. These are some good suggestions.
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on October 11, 2020:
I haven't read any of the books on your list yet; however, I have always wanted to read "To Kill a Mockingbird." It is next on my list of books to read. Thanks for sharing an excellent review.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 09, 2020:
I think each of these books sounds interesting and I have only read "To Kill a Mockingb Bird", so I am glad to have some more escellent bhoices . Thank you for this review, Ivana.
Liz Westwood from UK on October 08, 2020:
You have put together an interesting selection of books with insightful summaries that don't give the plots away.
Ankita B on October 08, 2020:
I am currently reading "To kill a Mockingbird". Thank you for sharing a wonderful list of must read books. I will definitely try to read the others someday.
Ivana Divac (author) from Serbia on October 08, 2020:
And thank you for reading my article!
Liza from USA on October 08, 2020:
I have read To Kill The Mocking Bird, and I have the book. I remember a friend suggested reading The Shadowhunter Chronicles. I don't know what stopping me from reading them. However, I look forward to reading more books during this fall season. Thanks for the suggestion Ivana.
Ivana Divac (author) from Serbia on October 08, 2020:
'To Kill a Mockingbird' is one of the best books I've ever read, honestly.
Ann Carr from SW England on October 08, 2020:
The only story here that I know is 'To Kill a Mockingbird', recognised as a classic and one of my favourites.
It's an interesting idea to come up with an alternative list.