This book will mess you up

Yesterday, I filmed a new episode of Off the Shelf, the video podcast I’ve been doing sporadically for my library. This month’s theme was books that drive me nuts. All my book conversations lately have been revolving around the idea of mind-bending books. I commented on Twitter that I love being able to recommend books by handing them over and saying, “This book will mess you up.” Within the afternoon, someone responded asking for book suggestions.

“It’s 4:00 PM. Do you now what your child is reading?”

I’m no stranger to being floored by a book, though it’s a fairly rare occurrence that I come across a book that’s so original and so uninhibited that it will haunt me forever. What I didn’t know was that I could share the experience if I coyly suggested some of these titles with other readers. I recommended Connie WillisBlackout and All Clear a few years ago to a reader only to receive a hysterical text with lots of question marks and exclamation points when she finished the set. Then I gave her Mark Hodder‘s Burton and Swinburne alternate history series with an evil chuckle.

I’ve been lucky in the last few years to find more books that mess with my head. Or, maybe I’m just getting braver about what I read and have been taking more chances. To me, reading a book that will rearrange your synapses is one of the greatest pleasures of reading. What else is literature supposed to do other than showing us new perspectives, taking us beyond the realms of our imagination, utterly transporting us to something new?

Tomorrow, I’ll post the finished version of Off the Shelf episode here. It has me recommending five recent brain-warping titles. There’s one phrase I wish I would have thought of yesterday during the filming that I will include here: Bookworms, read bravely!

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