Stressed Out? Pick Up A Book

by Katie Voitik

Senior year brings a whole lot of changes. Classes get harder (yay 400 level courses), living situations change (no more dorms!), and sleeping habits change (at least for me…no more 1 am nights on weekdays). The most significant change, however, was my free time. Well, kind of. I still have a ton to do, but by now, I have become extremely efficient at managing my time. So, you might ask, what do you like to do with these newfound areas of free time?

I love to read for fun. No textbooks, no research papers: fiction. Novels. Young adult books. Over the summer, I basically lived in the library in Colorado. My passion for reading has lessened with my college years because I seemed to never have time to just sit down and take some personal time. Now, I’m realizing that in order to not get super stressed out during the semester, taking personal time is the key.  Without further ado, I would love to share my top five favorite books I have read or I am currently reading.

  1. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

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Synopsis: In a dystopian world, a mysterious object called Calamity hanging in the sky has suddenly given ordinary people extraordinary powers. The only bad side? These people, renamed Epics, are all villains, competing to take over the world and oppress the powerless population. Enter a small group of non-Epics, who are fighting to overthrow the Epics and take back their world…and they will start with the most powerful Epic of all, Steelheart: the emperor of the ruins of Chicago who has the ability to bend metal and is basically invincible.

My thoughts: This book. Oh, this book. It’s a crime novel that meets superheroes that have amazing, unique powers but they all happen to be villians and ugh. I just love it. Brandon Sanderson has an amazing ability to craft a detailed world that seems almost real. The powers range from Epics who can make illusions of themselves, to ones who can fire a gun and never run out of bullets, to shapeshifters and telepaths. Each power is unique and beautifully developed. The main character, David, does not have powers and just wants to fight to avenge his father’s death. The morality and good vs. evil discussion is great, and the plot has tons of twists you won’t see coming. Easily my new favorite novel, I have read it probably around 5 times now.

  1. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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Synopsis: On another planet, a mysterious virus has affected the colonists that came to ease the overpopulation of Earth. It causes everyone’s thoughts—humans and animals—to be able to be heard and seen by anyone. Nothing is private. Everything is broadcasted. Todd, a young boy and his adorable talking dog Manchee, accidentally stumble upon something never heard of before: a pocket of silence. Why is it there? What does it mean? Also, why are there no women in this new world? A race for survival ensues between Todd and those people who do not want him to find out the truth. But, with both sides able to hear the other’s thoughts, how are you supposed to hide?

My thoughts: I will never stop recommending this book. It is incredibly well written, and the plot explores very heavy topics that will get you thinking. The unique thing about this book is that it is written like Huckleberry Finn in space. Todd narrates the whole thing, and his education is sorely lacking. Everything is written in dialect, and words are intentionally spelled wrong to reflect his limited literacy. The thoughts of people, called Noise, are more illustrated than written. It’s a very unique book that has a fast paced plot and turns into a trilogy. Every book in it (the Chaos Walking trilogy) is just a good as this first one.

  1. Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

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Synopsis: In a fantasy world dominated by the immortal Lord Ruler, a unique system of magic exists called Allomancy. Certain people can use metals to gain different powers. Pewter gives strength, tin gives enhanced senses, copper hides the user’s powers from detection, etc. Most people can only use one metal. A rare amount, called Mistborns, can use all ten. This is Vin, a street-wise girl who has unique powers she uses in her thieving crew to scam the nobility. Her world changes completely when she is recruited by another crew intent on one thing: to overthrow the Lord Ruler and secure the kingdom.

My thoughts: Yes, another Brandon Sanderson book. I love this author so much. He creates amazing systems of magic, and the Allomancy powers are the reason I instantly fell in love with this book. There’s also a great female protagonist. This book is more subtle than Steelheart, with this rebellion focusing on causing political turmoil and economic destruction instead of brute shows of force. It’s a political drama as much as a fantasy. I have heard this book described as Ocean’s 11 meets the fantasy genre, with magic. The crew’s plan to overthrow the government is detailed and exciting, and of course there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. As I am only halfway through the trilogy, I can only speak for the first book. However, as soon as I finished the first book, I immediately went and bought the other ones in the trilogy. Yes, it was that good.

  1. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

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Synopsis: Allie Brosh is the writer of the award winning blog Hyperbole and a Half. She details stories about her childhood and her life. The unique part of her stories is that they are all drawn comic-strip style, illustrated by Allie herself using Paint. The illustrations make this website stand out from other blogs, along with Allie’s unique humor that instantly connects with the reader. She took her more popular stories plus some new ones and compiled a book.

My thoughts: Okay, so this isn’t actually a novel. It’s a collection of comics that come from the popular website Hyperbole in a Half. If you have never heard of that website, you might know this: remember the “all the things” meme? It came from here. Actually, that comic is included in this book. Allie writes her stories based on her childhood, and they are hilarious. I have never laughed so much reading a book. She illustrates all of her stories using crudely drawn stick figures in Paint, and they add so much to the humor of her stories. She includes a ton of hilarious stories, and some thoughtful ones, such as her experience suffering depression and how she got through it. Her style of humor is so unique, and you will love Allie by the end of the book, with all of her quirks and crazy childhood stories. Warning: this book has some strong language.

  1. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

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Synopsis: Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the great airship Aurora during an alternate 1920s time period, one where airships took over rather than airplanes. He loves the freedom of the ship and longs to be a captain but cannot compete with those who were trained at the prestigious airship academy. One routine trip turns bad when the Aurora is captured by air pirates, and it’s up to Matt to save his beloved ship.

My thoughts: I never really got into steampunk, but this book is an exception. It has airships, pirates, and a world that’s just barely different from our own. The plot is exciting and unpredictable. This is actually a trilogy as well, and each book takes off to different heights, almost quite literally. (Slight spoiler – space. Just, space. That may or may not happen at some point). I love Kenneth Oppel’s writing, and I devoured this book in a day. If you like pirates, romance, or steampunk, reading this book will be a treat!

Of course, there are plenty of other books I love. I neglected the super popular series such as the Hunger Games or Harry Potter, but these five are great books that should be more popular than they are. If you want to make time for reading like I did, pick up these books. You won’t be disappointed.

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