What to Read After Ender's Game

Ender's Game is a classic sci-fi novel that got a lot of attention recently after the film came out a few years ago. As is usually the case, the film was a bit disappointing compared to the book. The ethical questions and inner struggles the protagonist faces in the novel were lost in the film. Which is really too bad because those themes are at the heart of the story. At least there is still a lot of potential for a much better film to be made. In the meantime, if you haven't read it yet or if you are looking for similar books, I have a couple you should check out. 

1st pick - Dune

Dune is the story of a cosmic empire controlled by familial dynasties who are fighting amongst themselves for control of Arrakis, the only planet in the universe to produce the spice melange, the most coveted and sought after commodity in the empire. The story explores the religion and politics of the empire as well as the complex allegiances between the characters. 

Dune is another sci-fi classic. The size is a little intimidating and the characters and timeline are a lot to keep track of. I listened to the audiobook and I frequently had to look up who was who on Wikipedia, but it's well worth the challenge. It's one of those books that stays with you long after you finish it. I'm planning to reread it soon which is something I almost never do. 

2nd pick - The Lathe of Heaven

The main character has dreams that alter reality. Scared and confused he seeks help, but the person assigned to his case is corrupted by his power. Things quickly begin to spiral out of control. It's a short read, but an unforgettable fable that explores what happens when humans try to play god.

Ursula K. Le Guin is probably best know for her young adult fantasy series Earthsea, though she came to my attention after reading about her essay on beauty and aging in an article by Maria Popova. I was so intrigued I looked up Le Guin's work. I was surprised to see she had an extensive backlist. I'm currently half way through her other book The Dispossessed

While the three stories are each vastly different they all share common elements. All three books are epic adventures that unfold on a cosmic scale, yet each story is unique in that it addresses a different facet of the human experience. Greed, politics, and deceit drive the plots forward and gives perspective to the ethical and moral dilemmas each character must face. These books are sci-fi at it's finest.

Want more book recommendations?  Check out all of the What To Read After posts.

What books would you recommend?

What to Read After Ready Player One

Have you read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline? It came out a few years ago, but I only just finished reading it for the first time. Anne Bogel in her podcast, What Should I Read Next, recommended the book to one of her guests and assured her audience that despite the video game plot anyone can enjoy this novel. That same week my bf suggested I check out the book too. It's pretty rare that I hear multiple recommendations for the same book in the same week, so I was excited about giving this book a try.

I listened to the audiobook and loved every minute. It reminded me of Year Zero by Rob Reid and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. All three are nerdventure novels, a sub-genre of books defined on Goodreads as, "literary adventure fiction that celebrates all forms of nerdiness (including video games, science fiction, books, programming, maker culture, and more) by featuring bad-ass nerd protagonists taking down evil conglomerates, and culminating in a sense of childlike wonder and joy."  

I think the reason these stories are so much fun to read is because you know going in that the endings will be happy. The adventures are like quests and in a way, they are coming of age stories for nerds. The authors capture so well what it's like to be a 20-something-year-old trying to get by, pay the bills, fall in love, and of course save the world.

Each story has its own flavor of nerdiness. Ready Player One reads like a video game, Year Zero takes on the music industry's ridiculous copyright laws by introducing aliens, and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore unravels a secret society. I listened to all three on audio and these books have the best narrator pairings: Wil Wheaton reads Ready Player One, John Hodgman reads Year Zero, and Ari Fliakos reads Mr. Penumbra's. I felt like a little kid back in the second grade during story time when the teacher would read us stories about dragons. 

I like to read across genres and I think books like Ready Player One are perfect pick me up novels. I tend to seek them out after reading depressing stuff because they put me in a good mood. Though as of late, I have been craving more light-hearted adventure novels like these, so if you can think of any books that are similar please let me know!