• Libbie

My Favorite Fun Books

Welcome to the first actual LIST on Libbie's List! Well, most of us have plenty of time on our hands for reading right now, don't we? So I've got a few recommendations for you this week.

Dear god, no, I am not going to recommend books about pandemics. FFS, if you're anything like me, you'd rather think about literally anything else right at this moment. Maybe how much fun it is to scrub your toilet or what a blast it is to file your taxes or, I don't know, how much you enjoyed getting hit with projectile vomit right in the face back when your kid was a baby. Personally, I'm reliving some of the grossest moments from my days working in a veterinary ER with unusual fondness right now. I would 100% rather watch a Cavalier King Charles spaniel puke up many, many used tampons than go through what we're all going through right now.

So for a little distraction and stress relief, I present my favorite FUN books to read when I need some comfort or a laugh. These books have little in common except that I like to read them when I'm just looking for a pleasant time. Nothing too challenging, thematically speaking. Nothing grim or rough. Just pure enjoyment. And I hope you do enjoy one or two, and I hope you continue to be responsible and practice social distancing if your job permits it... and if it doesn't, I hope you're safe and well and maintaining as much sanity as anyone can right now.

I love you all!

Anne of Green Gables. Actually, I could put pretty much every book in L. M. Montgomery's Anne saga on this list, because I do indeed re-read ALL OF THEM whenever I'm in need of happiness. Sweet, comforting, cute, and fun, these books will sweep you off to a simpler time with good people and heartfelt themes of love, community, imagination, and joy. There's no better cure for frowny times than Anne. (My favorite of all the series is actually Anne's House of Dreams, because there's a good mystery in it!)

Watership Down. Okay, maybe this one might be a little heavy for some readers, but that's balanced out by the fact that all the characters are rabbits. It's a bit like The Odyssey with bunnies. I grew up reading this book (and re-reading it a zillion times over and over again) so it's the ultimate security blanket for me. I read it whenever I fly on a plane, because if I don't, I'll lose my damn mind. Richard Adams is lovely, descriptive, lush writer and I'm sure he (along with Montgomery up above) had tremendous influence on my own writing style. So if you enjoy my style, I guarantee you'll love Adams, too.

The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West. This little-known treasure by Mary Stanton, along with its sequel Piper at the Gate, is another book from my most-read rotation in childhood. It's basically Watership Down with horses (albeit with more of a mystical/magical/paranormal element thrown in) and look at that cover. It's metal as F***. Don't think twice. Just get it and read it. You know you want to, just 'cause of that killer title.

So Excited, So Scared: The Saved By the Bell Retrospective. Humorist Stuart Millard is an underappreciated genius. I've read most of his books, many of which are hilarious essays or short fiction (sometimes very short.) I recommend them all, but this one is by far my favorite because I've been a Saved By the Bell nerd since early days. In So Excited, So Scared, Millard dissects every single episode of the iconic and horribly stupid 90s kids' sitcom with plenty of wit and well-deserved criticism. There's also a lengthy afterword that goes into some of the hidden lore of SBTB's production.

Sweet Valley High. All of them. Any of them. I don't care; they're basically all the same. They're awful trash full of truly miserable lessons to teach preteen girls (the intended audience) but back in the 80s and 90s, no one was paying as much attention to the psyches of children as they probably should have been. As an adult, there is nothing more fun than reading about these spoiled, awful, impossible California teenagers' stupid, stupid lives. I especially recommend the one where a British aristocrat may or may not be a werewolf, and the one where an evil twin appears even though the main characters are already twins... so like... evil triplet? I don't really know how to explain Margot. Margot needs no explanation; she's just eeeeeevil. I used this cover to represent the entire series because look at that dude's mustache--seriously, just LOOK AT IT.

Related: Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss is a nostalgic and totally awesome book about the kid lit of the 80s and 90s. While yes, it certainly does poke fun at the sublimely ridiculous stuff like Sweet Valley High, it's also really well-written and delves into the history of all kinds of series, authors, and imprints that you may not have known about back when you were a kid. It's certainly a must for librarians, but I think anyone who was a bookworm kid will love it...especially if you were a kid in the 80s and 90s.

Okay, that's all I've got for this week's list! I'll be back next week with more fun recommendations on a different theme.

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Stay safe, stay home, and spread love, not viruses! <3

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