Good Bad Books - Lindes Malherbe
GOOD BOOKS FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T FEEL LIKE READING GOOD BOOKS
Okay look. Let’s just be frank here. There is certainly a time and a place for good books — those books that make you think, that make you marvel at the ability of human beings to invent stories. Your Gatsbys, your Mockingbirds, the lot. However, while reading these books can for sure be highly enriching and eye-opening, sometimes you just want to have a party. In your brain. By yourself. On your bed. With a good book that’s not actually a good book. And these days, with COVID-19 looming over our heads, do we really need that extra emotional strain that goes along with ploughing through prize-winning descriptions of mountains or whatever? I think not. So, good people, I hereby present a list of the best books that are not good books. Books that will make you laugh and cry, but that will still allow you to go about your day without having an existential crisis.
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Aliré Saenz
Do you like crying while feeling your heart shatter into a million pieces and then being put back together again? Honestly, same. And this book doesn’t play around regarding this. This story, set in 1980s El Paso, Texas, is about two teenage boys with ancient names and opposing personalities who discover not only the beauty in themselves and the rugged desert around them, but also the beauty in each other. I can 100% guarantee that after reading this book you will have cried your eyes out at the beauty of it all, and will have made the decision to name all seven of your future children either Aristotle or Dante. I don’t make the rules. Just trust me.
CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell
Ah yes, the book that all of you thirsty homies who wanted Draco and Harry to end up together have been waiting for. There’s not much I can say about this book except it’s Harry Potter, but gayer and more risqué. It is pure escapism, and you will fall head over heels for Simon and Baz and their magic-filled love story. Especially Baz though. That man is hilarious.
ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS by Francesca Zappia
This story is the definition of wholesome, and will no doubt become a soft spot for those who know what it’s like to be a part of a fandom. Eliza is the anonymous creator of the popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea, and Wallace is its biggest fanfiction writer. Eliza knows who he is, but Wallace thinks that she is just a regular fan like him. Their relationship begins to blossom, and Eliza realises that there may be more to life than her webcomic. But when Eliza’s secret is revealed, everything comes crashing down. The way I’ve described this book may have been the most clichéd thing ever, but I promise you that the book itself is not. It’s a beautiful, lighthearted story of first love, and makes amazing use of occasional graphics. It’s engrossing and inspiring all at once. And while you will feel slightly talentless and unproductive compared to the two protagonists after reading it, you will have fallen in love with them.
I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
This book has it all. Humour, art, sadness, a gay love story, a straight love story. Twins Jude and Noah’s uncanny bond has been severed by a tragedy that has cost them a piece of themselves. In their story, told from each twin’s viewpoint, one before the tragic event and one after, they discover love and the inevitable complications of being a human being. This book is an emotional rollercoaster, but so incredibly satisfying and impossible to put down.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky
Yet another beautiful tear-jerker. I love crying, okay. Leave me alone. Anyways. This well-known coming-of-age favourite never fails to make me a) feel nostalgic about the 90s that I never lived in, b) have a good cry and c) develop an emotional attachment to some of my favorite characters that have ever been created. In this novel, we get to know Charlie (the shy wallflower), along with his eccentric new friends and his darkest secrets, all while he is adjusting to the novelty of high school. A bonus of this book: it has great music recommendations, and a movie adaptation that perfectly compliments it (which Ezra Miller is in — need I say more?).
SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA AND LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT
by Becky Albertalli
These two companion novels are gay in both senses of the word. Centred around the soft boi™️, Simon and his friends (most prominently Leah), these books explore what it means to be a queer teenager today, without making it the centre of the story. The real enjoyment in these novels is found in the intriguing but lighthearted plots, the realistic and lovable characters and the humour that leaves your stomach in a happy sort of pain from laughter. By the end of them, you will wish you were a part of the Creekwood world, and the real world won’t seem so bad a place either.
So yeah, that’s it folks. Enjoy laughing, crying, feeling all of the good things by reading all of the bad good books. Good bad books? Who even cares, they’re amazing.