Bookflix: A guide to summer binge reading
I, of all people, am well aware that the upcoming glory of summer brings with it the promise of Netflix bingeing to a ridiculous degree. So many hundreds of hours of television are available to us at a single search that it can be hard to remember that there are other forms of entertainment that are much easier to enjoy in the sunshine than a laptop screen. My personal favorite of these is…books! But I’m loath to completely pull us away from all our shows, so I have taken the liberty of compiling here a list of book recommendations based on the Netflix shows you love.
If you can’t stop watching…
‘Star Trek,’ ‘Firefly’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ read…
‘Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas’ by John Scalzi
Scalzi is one of my favorite authors because of his offbeat, hysterically funny approach to the genre of science fiction. “Redshirts” is a stand-alone novel that satirizes the tropes of “Star Trek” in a brilliant and sneakily existential way. The writing style is quirky without being prohibitive or difficult, and science fiction fans will find Scalzi’s wry humor engaging and constantly referential. A bonus: Scalzi has a number of other equally excellent and amusing novels that re-imagine classic sci-fi scenarios, including first contact, discovery of undeveloped sentient life and traditional space opera.
The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
McMaster Bujold’s smart, simple writing style, politically complex universe and likable protagonists make for a space opera series that reads quickly and addictively. Her version of humanity’s future is brilliant in that it bears recognizable cultural connections to our current society. It might not be completely believable to the physics majors among us, but it’s constructed in a way that minimizes the need to suspend disbelief. You can also start anywhere in the saga and get entirely sucked in to this adventure-filled interstellar epic.
‘Scandal,’ ‘Law & Order’ and ‘House of Cards,’ try…
Anything by Michael Connelly
Best known for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” off which the film starring Matthew McConaughey was based, Connelly cranks out solidly written legal, police and political dramas for the conspiracy theorist in all of us. The former journalist’s plots are renowned for their twists and turns and his characters for their flawed likability. Connelly has written so much that even the most picky thriller reader should be able to find a premise that appeals.
‘Supernatural’ and ‘Being Human,’ start with…
‘Storm Front’ by Jim Butcher
Start this series and never leave. Butcher’s sassy, street-smart and sorcerous protagonist, Harry Dresden, roams an entirely different Chicago from our own: one inhabited by ghosts, fairies and werewolves—oh my! These books are quintessential urban fantasy tales that benefit from page-turning writing, complex webs of characters and an abundance of geeky references. The villains are constructed in fine love-to-hate style, and the novels’ consistently high-pitched climactic scenes are deeply satisfying. They may not be particularly deep, but for fun summer reading, these books hit the mark.
‘Moon Called’ by Patricia Briggs
The first book in Briggs’s Mercedes Thompson series, this page-turner is “Twilight” that doesn’t actually suck. Featuring a fun and funny heroine, a pack of sexy werewolves, a vampire who drives the Mystery Machine and a snappy plot, this book makes for great urban-fantasy beach reading.
Documentaries, check out…
‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot
Skloot’s nonfiction work delves engagingly into the history of the HeLa line of cells, a self-replicating “immortal” biological resource used in medical research since they were first found in the cervical cancer of one Henrietta Lacks. The cells are unique and invaluable in that they’re human cells that simply don’t stop replicating, providing an excellent research environment for biologists and doctors alike. Skloot endeavors to tell the story of the woman whose body made this invaluable contribution to science. Human, tragic and intellectually fascinating by turns, this well-researched biological work is a must read for pre-meds.
‘Game of Thrones’…
READ THE BOOKS!
George R. R. Martin’s writing has a depth of complexity and world building that even hour-long, high-budget television can’t match. They may be dense (and occasionally confusing), but I highly recommend them as a supplement to your “Game of Thrones” addiction.
‘The Name of the Wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss
True high fantasy that is well-narrated and beautifully designed, this book is a rare find. Rothfuss is widely acknowledged as a rising star in the world of fantasy authorship because of his craftsmanship and elegant plots, laid out in a story-within-a-story style decorated with descriptions that shiver down your spine. The protagonist, Kvothe, is a real-life folk hero in his world, hiding from his past as an innkeeper in a remote town. As his story unfolds, the reader becomes more and more invested in finding out exactly how Kvothe ended up where he is now…and what’s happening outside the tavern doors. Unfortunately, only two of the three books in the series have been released thus far, so prepare yourself for frustration if you do decide to pick up this 700-pager and its sequel, “The Wise Man’s Fear.”