A Couple of Good Fiction Books to Read

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A Couple of Good Fiction Books to Read

I’m constantly reading non-fiction books to continue learning – personal finance, biographies, business books, etc. But sometimes, I just need a couple of really good fiction books to read to free up my mind and get my imagination going.

With the amount of traveling we had to do recently to get from Panama to the U.S. and then all the unknowns pushing up my anxiety, some good fiction books to read are just what the doctor ordered!

I don’t have a specific genre of fiction that I’m extremely loyal to but it seems like I tend to stay away from things like historical fiction and romance. The genres that I usually enjoy the most are science fiction, fantasy, and suspense/thriller.

When I get a recommendation, I’ll usually just add it to my list. Otherwise, I just browse around until I find something that piques my interest.

And then I try to rotate between fiction and non-fiction to keep the left and right sides of the brain in motion. But right now, fiction books seem to be the dominant force in my nightly reading.

So, like the great guy that I am, I thought I’d share a couple of books that I’ve recently finished reading. These books were well worth my time.

Are you using a Kindle Paperwhite?

First off, I do have to say that if you enjoy reading and don’t own a Kindle Paperwhite, you don’t know what you’re missing! Yeah, sure, I know you can read your books on a tablet like the Kindle Fire, but it’s not the same – not even close!

Tablets are fun for games, watching movies, or checking your email, but the Kindle Paperwhite is made for reading. That bright computer display of a tablet isn’t fun on the eyes. The Paperwhite on the other hand uses E-Ink so it’s like reading a newspaper or paperback book. That also means you don’t get glare and can read it while outside without the sun ruining your day! Plus, you get weeks on one charge versus hours.

Some people say they want the feel of actual books. I don’t think you can get much closer than that with a Paperwhite. It’s about the same size and weight as a real paperback and the reading experience is similar. You can easily bookmark pages and highlight any text you want to reference later just like you could with a real book. The difference is that you can’t store thousands of books in a single regular paperback book… but you absolutely can on a Paperwhite! You can also control the font type and size if desired.

And my favorite two features of the Kindle Paperwhite:

  • When you run across a word you don’t know, you just hold down on the word and the dictionary instantly pops and tells you what it means. That convenience is almost worth it alone to me!
  • You can borrow books online from your local library and send them directly to your device. No library pickups or anything. After the due date, the book is automatically pulled from the Kindle – no library drop-offs or overdue books!

Ok, I feel like I needed to get that out of the way since not everyone knows just how wonderful these devices are. If you don’t have a Kindle Paperwhite, get one – you won’t regret it.

Now, onto a couple of good fiction books to read on your Paperwhite…

Good Fiction Books to Read #1 – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel)

I got sucked into The Hunger Games movies when the first one came out in 2012. The storyline wasn’t like anything else out there and the acting was fantastic as well. It was a dystopian story with such an unusual plot, but you found yourself rooting for the underdog (Katniss) from the very beginning…

Then the second movie came out in 2014 and it was great too. At that point, I decided to start reading the books. There were four movies taken from the three-book series by Suzanne Collins and I crushed all the books before the third and fourth films even came out.

The movies were fantastic, but the books were even better. That’s usually a common theme because an author is only limited to your imagination whereas a movie has to deal with budgets and can only fit so much into a script.

So, if you haven’t read The Hunger Games books, start there – those are some good fiction books to read for sure. Here’s a link to the entire trilogy in one shot.

After watching all The Hunger Games movies, Faith immediately put a bow and arrow on her wish list for her birthday… the girl’s got skills!

And now, Suzanne Collins put out a new book just a couple of months ago to add to her series. It’s called “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and it serves as a prequel to The Hunger Games series. It’s really good.

It focuses on President Coriolanus Snow from the series – except about 60 years or so earlier. We get to read about him at 18 years old as he is given the task of mentoring Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games. His family has fallen on hard times and he’s far from the presidential figure we see in the later years.

My expectations weren’t high for this book since I didn’t think I cared about a Coriolanus Snow backstory. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it – each chapter was like a well-put-together episode.

I have to warn you though – it seemed like every chapter ended on a cliff-hanger. I kept thinking I would just finish a chapter and then put the book down, but Collins did a masterful job of keeping me from doing that. I felt like I just needed to see what happened next and would continue reading.

According to Wikipedia, this book is 517 pages but it sure didn’t feel like it. I knocked it out pretty quickly.

The only criticism I might have is that the book wrapped up fast. Collins has a way of describing details in a way so you feel like you’re actually there but without inundating you with useless trivial information. For the last chapter though, it all wrapped up in no time. The ending was good and that’s always important, but it just seemed like she was over the idea of all the meticulousness of the other chapters. I wish she slowed things down and focused on the details a little more for the end of the book.

Regardless, I still loved it and can highly recommend it.

So, if you’re looking for some good fiction books to read, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” should be on your radar.

Get it here on Amazon: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Good Fiction Books to Read #2 – The Plagiarist

While “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was a pretty long book, this one’s exactly the opposite. “The Plagiarist” was written as a short story and is only about 64 pages long. Not only that, but it came out in 2011!

So how in the world did I come across a short story I wanted to read that came out almost a decade ago?

Here’s how. Recently, Amazon sent me an email telling me I had a digital credit that was about to expire. It was a big one too… a whopping $1.00.

That’s when my cheapness came into play. I decided to make it a mission to find a good Kindle book for $1 or less. I love challenges like that!

Finding worthwhile books to read for that kind of price though is hard to do. And you’re not likely to come across a lot of authors you recognize and know you like.

But then I stumbled across an author I knew of… Hugh Howey. Not only do I know I like Hugh Howey’s stuff, but he wrote a series of books that might be one of the best I ever read – the Silo Series (Wool, Shift, and Dust). I didn’t even think I liked science fiction until I was sucked into this fascinating storyline.

So when I saw another work by Howey for 99 cents, it was an obvious pick. I let the extra penny of my credit go to waste (shame on me!), but it was a great deal!

“The Plagiarist” is about a guy named Adam who’s a literature teacher but also spends his time in a virtual world. It’s hard to go into detail without revealing anything worthwhile. You’ll appreciate not knowing what you’re in for on this one. But I can say that this is another book with some great writing and creativity.

Going back and forth between the worlds reminded me of the Matrix – though the storyline wasn’t anything similar to that. If you enjoy that sort of science fiction, you’ll appreciate this book.

Like I said, this is a fast read – I was done with it in a couple of nights. But if you’re looking for good fiction books to read, Hugh Howey’s “The Plagiarist” is worth the 99 cents to get your fix. And if you enjoy his writing style, you should absolutely check out the Silo Series I mentioned as well.

Get it here on Amazon: The Plagiarist

What are you reading that you think is worthwhile?

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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8 thoughts on “A Couple of Good Fiction Books to Read”

  1. Hi Jim!
    Start with the first book that author Daniel Silva writes with his fictional character Gabriel Allon. Allon is a Mossad super agent/spy/assasin extraordinaire. Thanks to Bill Clinton’s recommendation, I started this series maybe 7 years ago. Favorite Author by far. A real good thriller/suspense series. You will thank me later…or curse me, as he has many in the series now. 🙂
    For non-fiction, have you read “Unbroken” yet? They made a movie from it, but hope you did not watch it. Book is far better! Author Laura Hillenbrand took 7 years to compile the data to write it, including interviews of Louie Zamperini himself. The book is epic!
    I have far too many recommendations to give people now. Start with those 20-25 books for now. 😉

    Wishing you and yours safety and good mental and physical health Jim!

    God speed, Steve

    1. Thanks, Steven! I’ll check out Daniel Silva’s stuff for sure. I just added the first book of the series to my reading list. I’ll dig into Unbroken, too – I don’t know the movie either but I’ll be sure to start with the book. 🙂

  2. I felt like that’s what happened with the third Hunger Games book—the ending wrapped up too quickly. She spent the whole trilogy building up the love triangle and Katniss’s development as a character, and then? It’s all wrapped up in about 10 pages with Katniss basically being broken. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of how it ended, though the series as a whole was fun to read. I’m still undecided whether I want to try the prequel or not!

    1. Very strange with the wrap-ups, right? If you’re looking for something to read, Torrie, you’ll be happy with the prequel – it also gives you some “aha” moments about the regular series, too.

  3. I recently finished a series called The New Earth (first book is Nomad) by Matthew Mather. It was my first time reading a more sci-fi dystopian type book, and I blew through the 4 books quickly.

  4. I agree the electronic books certainly make travel a lot easier. We’ve both got Nooks (the Barnes & Noble version) and really enjoy it. I just got CS. Foresters “The Good Shepherd” which is what the latest Tom Hanks movie is based on. I kept seeing reviews that said the book was better than the movie.

    1. Cool, I saw that my library has “The Good Shepherd” available so I’ll be sending that over to my Kindle. Glad you like the Nooks – I don’t know too many people that have those, but the ones that do seem to like them as well.

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