Young Adult author Ryan Graudin visited with her fans at the Dallas Flagship Half Price Books back in July as part of the Mighty Mississippi Book Blast tour. In honor of her brand new book, The Walled City, we thought this would be a great time to hear about some of Ryan’s favorite books. Take it away, Ryan!
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor.
As a former English major and a writer, I’ve read a lot of books. Books, books, books and more books. And while I love reading, the unfortunate side effect is that it becomes harder and harder for me to find a story I can get completely lost in. As soon as I picked up DoSaB I was swept away by Taylor’s beautiful language (to call it poetic hardly does her writing justice), her phenomenal worldbuilding and her hilarious, endearing characters. There’s magic and romance, angels and teeth, feisty best friends, tragedy on the most heartbreaking of scales. The overall series itself is a feat in character and plot arcs that I can only hope to come close to one day.
2. T.S. Eliot Collected Poems 1909-1962 by T.S. Eliot.
Eliot is one of my all time favorite poets. The way he evokes emotion with just a few images and lines has always floored me. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Hollow Men and Journey of the Magi are good (shorter) poems to introduce you to his style. Reading this volume is always such a cathartic experience. And shows me (again and again) how to make a reader feel an emotion without expressly defining it.
3. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.
This is a hefty, yet masterful volume. It is an alternative history set in 1808 about a British society where magicians and fairies are commonplace. The book is a feat of seamless research and flawless worldbuilding on an epic scale. Clarke also employs the use of footnotes quite heavily, which lends to the scholarly feel of the novel.
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Do you want your heart torn out of your chest and stomped to bloody bits? This is the book for you. Just kidding. Kind of. (Not really.) This book is about WW2 Germany and the Holocaust told from Death’s point of view, so it really doesn’t hold back any punches. It is meaningful and heartbreaking. It will change the way you look at life and the relationships around you.
5. I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan.
Sloan was a screenwriter before she ever wrote her debut novel, and her command of story structure shines through in I’ll Be There. The novel follows Sam and his younger brother Riddle as they struggle to survive life with their criminally insane on-the-run father. The story is masterfully braided and shows how each character’s decision impacts the other. Read it. You won’t be sorry.