I always have a book handy. Usually I even have one or two extra waiting in the wings while I'm busy reading one. A lot of books don't really stand out and sometimes I'll finish a book simply because I have nothing else to read. But the following three were excellent because the style of writing immediately drew me in and the story line kept me going.
First, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson. I haven't been reading a lot of science fiction or fantasy lately but this one looked good for reasons I can't explain. The book is about a war between robots and humans after robots gain consciousness and awareness. It doesn't explain how robots came to be in the daily lives of the characters, or even go into detail about each robot's function in society. Instead it's written like robots are an accepted fact of life and brief descriptions of their purposes are given for the reader when needed. I liked that. The book focused on the information recorded by a computer/robot on the development of the war from step one. This was fantastic to me because I am aware that history is frequently written by the winners so the records can be a bit skewed. This soldier found a memory storage of the entire war, seen from the impartial eye of the computer. Just the facts. The soldier's retelling and compiling of the information add the emotion. Excellent read. I can see this as a movie.
Second, The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. How would you react if the Rapture happened and you were left behind? This book is told primarily from the point of view of a family of four (parents and two teens) that were all left behind after a Rapture-like event. 'Rapture-like' because it wasn't only one religious faction that was chosen to disappear suddenly. Instead it was all walks of life, all ages, all religious beliefs that suddenly vanished all at the same time. The story takes place about three years after the event when normalcy is essentially returned. No explanation of what the event was, why some vanished and why some were left behind is given. It reminded me a bit of what it's like to have someone close to you die suddenly, and provided some insight on what it would be like if someone I knew or loved simply went missing. Fantastic read.
Third, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Again, science fiction. This book is for all those computer game lovers out there. It takes place in 2045 when OASIS is a common and widely used virtual reality interface. Even the poorest people have the goggles and haptic gloves to access OASIS and it's free, free, free. The school system even set up a virtual planet of schools for children to attend, if you can imagine. The founder of OASIS dies and leaves a puzzle open to the public where the winner inherits ultimate control of OASIS and 240 billion dollars. The three keys to the puzzle are in the form of Easter eggs found in video games that can be played and accessed in OASIS. All the gunters (egg hunters) have to do is find the keys, unlock the doors and find the final egg. Many, many, many of the games I was aware of before reading the book so it was really neat to read about how the characters study them to find the keys. A lot of attention to detail regarding computer games was put into this book and it's relayed in a way that didn't make me feel lost if I'd never heard of the game. This was a book that I read obsessively, identifying with the main character even though I don't play computer games of that variety. Again, this would make a great movie.