Blog / The Archmage's Ruminations

Nerdy Winter Reading List


Archmage Helen Cothrel, hc261409@ohio.edu

Greetings, fellow nerds. Have you found yourself sinking deeper and deeper into the dreaded black hole of winter boredom? I know I have. Today I’m going to take some steps to hopefully save us all from imminent death-by-boredom by publishing my “Nerdy Winter Reading List.” Sure, you can play Skyrim for the fifth time (which is what I’ve been doing for about two weeks now), but why not expand your nerdy horizons with some essential reading? Enjoy.

  1. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card: Highly hailed as a quintessential science fiction novel, Ender’s Game is an absolute gem. Published in 1985, this classic reads as well today as it did almost three decades ago. Card takes us into the mind of Ender Wiggin, a child-genius who is taken to battle school in space. There, Ender’s tactical genius develops as he routinely outsmarts computers and his peers in preparation for a threat of alien invasion. Ender’s constant battles are mirrored with a heart-wrenching internal struggle which Card masterfully illuminates. I’ve heard rumors that there will also soon be a film adaptation of this, but the books is so masterfully done, I hardly think Hollywood needs to touch it.

    Ender's Game

    Ender’s Game cover (photo credit: Wikipedia)

  2. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton: You couldn’t pick a better time to finally get your hands on this novel if you haven’t already, as Jurassic Park is being re-released into theaters in 3-D this summer. Crichton was a master of fiction and Jurassic Park is no exception. A brilliant and original story, its cornucopia of characters find themselves on an island intended to be the site of a dinosaur-themed amusement park. The park isn’t just dinosaur-themed, though, as you soon discover that thanks to the wonders of science, the island’s been populated with a variety of long-extinct species. (other fantastic Crichton novels you should pick up include, but are not limited to, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, and Timeline).
  3. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: If you’re at all familiar with Sir Terry Pratchett, you know his specialization is hilarious fantasy. Gaiman himself is an award-winning author with an expansive collection of work worth checking out. The two masterminds come together in Good Omens to pen a riotous tale featuring, among much more: the son of Satan, an oddly cooperative duo of an angel and a demon, entirely unsuccessful witch hunters, prophecies, and–oh yeah, the apocalypse.
  4. World War Z, Max Broooks: You may have seen the recent previews for the movie version of World War Z that will be coming out this year. Though the community has thus far answered these previews with a resounding “meh,” World War Z is an astonishingly real post-apocalyptic story written as an oral history (a series of interviews with notable survivors of the zombie war). Brooks captures the imagination effortlessly with this fresh manner of storytelling. For zombie enthusiasts, it’s a staple. For everyone else, it’s just a great read.

    World War Z cover (photo credit: Wikipedia)

  5. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender: This novel is one of my all-time favorites. It tells the story of a girl who discovers at a young age that she can taste the emotions of people when she eats food prepared by them. TPSOLC follows the protagonist through her life as she grapples with her ability. This is an atypical fiction novel in that it takes a magical idea and makes it feel real, at times almost disturbingly so. Bender delves ruthlessly into a mind filled with little emotional clarity, but she pulls it off masterfully, leading to an enthralling read. This is not a feel-good novel, but when I think of books that will stay with me forever, this is at the top of the list.

If you have already read all these (overachiever), let me know and I’ll shoot some more recommendations your way.

Questions? Comments? Brilliant ideas? Leave a comment!

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