Hello friends! I hope you all are reading some fantastic and lovely books, and are had a great weekend. It’s the third Monday of the month, which means that it’s Book Recs day!
On the third Monday of every month, I share some Book Recommendations that pertain to a theme! I’ll tell you all a little bit about the book, what I liked about them (because I always only recommend books I have read and liked!), and give you all the links so you can add them to your list of books to read.
I have some exciting books to share with you all today, some of which you have probably heard me pipe up about, so here I am, reminding you all to read these amazing books.
Today’s theme is books for your discoursing heart. This theme is a little close to my own heart, because I absolutely love critical discourse in virtue of my sociology degree. To be clear, discourse can be defined as a way of thinking that is constructed by knowledge that has an influence and is influenced by our own personal perspectives and social practices. Because I love critical discourse, the books I will be recommending today have political and social discourse – or, books that speak about politics and social norms and phenomena. In recommending these books with sociopolitical discourse, something that was very important to me is recommending books that are accessible to a wide audience. Everyone has varying degrees of knowledge and ways of expressing themselves critically, so I wanted to recommend books that would have sociopolitical discourse that I thought were very clear and powerful in its messages without being too confusing.
So, ready for some accessible but critical books? Here’s the first one on my list!
RED RISING SERIES BY PIERCE BROWN
I adore this series. It’s one of those books I knew nothing about but gave it a chance, and I could never ever regret giving this series a go. It’s gritty, bloody, and incredible, and will always have a special place in my heart.
- Fans of science-fiction and dystopia will love this book for its setting, its themes, and its dark and sombre tone. This is an exciting adventure but of grand and epic proportions.
- Explores themes of oppression, revolution, war, and power. It is critical of how ideology and lies of powerful groups function to control large groups of people.
- This is a great read for anyone who wants to read about characters smashing violent hegemony and fighting for freedom.
- Moreover, I argue that Red Rising, the first book, is my least favourite of the series, and it gets better and better with each book.
Trigger/content warnings (highlight to read): [murder of spouse, body horror, graphic violence, death]
WANT BY CINDY PON
You have probably seen me praise this book up and down, but I adore this book and am thrilled to tell you about this fantastic book again.
- Science-fiction at its finest – set in future Taipei, this book boasts an exciting vigilante/heist-like storyline with action, a little bit of love, and heart-stopping missions.
- If you want a book that tackles and discusses environmentalism, privilege, and corruption, Want is here waiting for you.
- Additionally, the book tackles these themes and big ideas without being confusing – the messages are important, meaningful, and brilliantly conveyed.
- If you love reading about a big cast of characters you won’t help but love, you’ll adore the circle of friends and their friendships in this book.
Trigger/content warnings (highlight to read): [physical violence]
EXO BY FONDA LEE
This is such an underrated gem! I thought this book was incredible and so grounded in comparison to all the dystopia/sci-fi books that tend to go out with a bang.
- Science-fiction and dystopian – set in a future Earth where humanity has been colonised by an alien race and are now subservient to them.
- Centers on a young mercenary who has been genetically enhanced by these aliens to become the perfect solider; expect lots of awesome internal conflict!
- Tackles a lot of important and heavy themes, such as colonialism, power, and terrorism, without feeling heavy or overwhelming.
- If you love morally grey character and scenarios, then Exo is perfect for you – it has some of the best morally grey elements I’ve read, ever.
Trigger/content warnings (highlight to read): [physical violence, death of parents, terrorism and acts of terror, torture]
THE ASK AND THE ANSWER BY PATRICK NESS
I think having this book in this list may come as a surprise, but I adore the Chaos Walking series, and The Ask and the Answer, the second book of the series, was my favourite one.
- Whilst the first book of the series tackled more psychological aspects, The Ask and the Answer traverses into sociological territory, and explores themes such as power in fascist regimes, war, ideology of war, oppression, freedom, and control.
- The book focuses on two opposing sides readying for war, and you can see various personalities common in war narratives emerge: the tyrant, the martyr, the people who exploit war, the pacifists, and the turncoats who follow the winning side.
- Ness brilliantly explores the moral issues and nuances of war and violence, explores how people justify it using ideology and prejudice, and does all of this without presenting either side as good or bad – it is up to you to judge.
Trigger/content warnings (highlight to read): [physical violence, acts of terrorism, war, death]
I love critical books and I think they’re the kind of books that everyone should read. I also think it’s important for young adult books to cover these sort of subjects, in a way that is critical of something about society in a meaningful way while also being accessible to readers of all ages. Books like Want, which tackles environmentalism, are so important today because of climate change, and you’ll find that the book presents a future if nothing is done to change it and we allow industralization to continue irresponsibly. Therefore, I love these books because they are critical, but I also love these books because there’s something so empowering and thought-provoking about them. I believe it is these books, above all genres, that can motivate social change.
Although I think the books above are all fantastic and books I cannot recommend enough, the books can get pretty heavy as well and may tackle subjects or situations that may be pretty sensitive to some people (please check the trigger warnings). So please make sure you take care, and if need be, talk to someone. Or, if you’d love to talk to someone about the books or the themes in the books, I love talking about anything sociopolitical, so feel free to send me a message on my Twitter or to leave a comment below!
- What was the last book that made you really think about society and the way it works?
- Has a book ever made you feel motivated to change something about yourself or motivated you towards social change?
- Do you have any recommendations for science-fiction, dystopian, or post-apocalyptic books that talk about social issues?