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Today, I'm doing a collaboration project with Jenny, Claire, and Chelsea! They'll have posts/videos up at their projects today, so definitely check them out.

I was super happy when they all agreed to come do this with me, because there's nothing I like more than ~seducing~ people into reccing books. My tombstone, probably: "She really liked recs. Like, really." There's an art to recommending books: figuring out your audience, trying to remember what books you've read, and deciding which they might take to. So recs can be pretty specific to each individual, but there are some books that you lie in wait with for every reccing opportunity available...just in case. I wondered: if I had a shelf with extra copies of ten books only for lending to people, regardless of their tastes, what books would I stock?

This is that list.

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi — Sorry to anyone who thought I would hold out on this...I'm predictable. The Android's Dream is one of my top Scalzi novels, holding forth with the likes of Old Man's War and Zoe's Tale. It reminds me a lot of a political thriller, which means it often takes off even with people who don't read a lot of science fiction. They already have the toolbox to grok it from mainstream cinematic SF and I have a very high success rate when reccing it. Score one for sheep drama!

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes — This book has forbearers in urban fantasy, noir, and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. It's a jumble of genres with fascinating characters and a cool mystery plot. There's neat world building about companion animals that appear if you've killed someone — no matter how you killed them. Guilt, oppression, and surviving are key themes in this book, and I love love love Zinzi December.

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin — I feel the side-eye over this, because everyone always says "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is better!" but I love this world so much and found it more accessible to where I was in fantasy at the time (BEGINNER), and so prefer to rec this one first. If they like it, then I send them further down the back list. The culture, magic, and politics in this one are so delicious.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater — An island that holds a magical horse race, a girl who wants to save her family home, and a boy who wants to be free: forever converted to Stiefvater's fiction. The mythology of this book and the excellent relationship between people and animals, whether actual animal or magical animal, is awesome. Even now I appreciate the atmosphere of this book so deeply—I can still remember how scared some of the more tense moments made me. A+ would rec 10,000 times.

In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente — In lieu of other fairytales/fairytale retellings, which a lot of people who are not me seem to enjoy, this is my nod to that kind of story tone. This is a story inside a story inside a story in great circling loops. I read it years ago and fell in love with the writing style and the characters. I finished it and turned around and read it again before going on to the sequel, In the Cities of Coin and Spice.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks — Okay, zombies. I was never a zombie kid, unless it was Hocus Pocus and Billy Butcherson, who I was totally a fan of. But something about World War Z changed the zombie narrative for me, probably by taking a global view. I spent so long as a kid in a bubble that once I bust out of the bubble I was majorly into stories that expanded my worldview. This definitely fits the bill. It has its shortcomings for sure, but I can't let it go. And although I've seen the movie, I don't think it deserves the right to carry this book's name. Blah.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel — After a pandemic sweeps the globe and takes out most of the world's population, a small theater troupe travels through the remains of New England performing Shakespeare. This novel is so quiet and subtle, it climbed right into my heart and wouldn't leave. Some of it is the complication of love and some is the hope the book has for the future and how the past echoes into the future long after the people who created that past are gone.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley — The greatest gothic fantasy novel about vampires and revenge ever. This is one of my favorite character studies, and one of the few first-person, diary-style narratives I really deeply love. I always rec this with a caveat that there's 60% of the world building that screams "SEQUEL!" but there is no sequel. It's like the lost diary of a magician and how she discovered her powers and it's SUPER.

Holes by Louis Sachar — Okay, so Holes has one of the greatest romances of all time, one of the greatest friendships of all time, and two of the greatest comeback stories of all time. Also, Fate is here and she's waiting for you to get your crap together, Yelnats. Anyway, it's short but it's awesome and it's one of those quality books where the film adaptation did its book source right.

Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts — I'm ending with one of the books (well, series, but this is the first book in that series and it sets everything up pretty nicely) that made me start going "!" about feminism and different ways of being feminist beyond white feminism. It also has one of my favorite friendship trios around. So: friendship, women finding agency, family, romance, excitement! I love this particular series so much and when I rec Roberts this is where I start, series wise. 11/10 would reread 17 more times.

Be sure to check out Jenny, Claire, and Chelsea! I'm sure their lists will be GREAT, and then after you've seen all the lists you'll be inspired to make your own and you'll @ me on Twitter to tell me about it...right? #seduction
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