Reed’s Top 3 – Standalone Novels

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: The Lemon Song by Led Zeppelin)

Hey everyone,

I need to write something short – I’ve been running around all day with random things (joke’s on me for making my unemployment too productive). And I’ve also been looking for a new series with a catchy name, so here’s what I’ve got:

Reed’s Top 3 – in which I name my top three favorite somethings and explain why they’re so cool. What’s in it for you? Absolutely nothing! (Unless you care about the details of my personal life.) But hopefully I can be entertaining and informative when talking about my favorite three types of nuts (pistachios, almonds, and deez).

No, I’m kidding. Kind of. But I will try to stick to things you might care about. For instance, as writers, we are naturally readers, and if you’re a good reader, you’re always looking for a new interesting book to try out, right? So here we go on my top three favorite standalone novels!


Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

I have to admit that I haven’t read this one since I was in middle school, but what little I remember changed me as a kid. The basic plot is a group of children who are hired by a corporation to sell goods in the world of dreams – there’s a really cute initiation ritual where the kid has to trade up from like a rubber band to a diamond or something of that sort. But things change when the main character, Josh, gets stranded in the dream world and has to work through its entire geography to exit, during which time he learns a lot about the secrets of the dream.

If you’ve been keeping up with me, you’ll notice that this sounds like the intellectual precursor to The Kalin Chronicles, which I wrote a year or two ago and failed to get anyone interested in (click here for my terrible query letter). This book first made me realize the potential that dreams have as an area of fantasy, and that lingering interest was what made Inception my all-time favorite movie (I guess that’s a spoiler for my Reed’s Top 3 – Movies edition).

It may not stand the test of time, but the only way to know for sure is to check it out!


Genre: Kind of transcendent, but my best guess is biopic/philosophy

If you’re the kind of person who likes stories that are somehow both depressing and uplifting, I would highly recommend checking this one out. Zusak is more famous for The Book Thief, but in my opinion it doesn’t even compare to I Am The Messenger. It’s the story of a lower-class shmuck of a cab driver who has no clue what he’s doing with his life, who accidentally foils a bank robbery (this isn’t really a spoiler, it’s in the very first line of the book). And afterwards, his life starts getting weird. I don’t want to give anything else away, but essentially he goes on a kind of odyssey of character where he learns about the world around him, the relationships between people, and how we as human beings can come together in little acts of altruism and kindness. It’s an incredible novel, but it’s pretty adult with sexuality, so I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who’s not down for that.

Suffice to say if you’re looking for a book that gives you an accurate, beautiful look at the best and worst humanity has to offer – and in a way that is completely novel and inspiring – you should check this one out.


Genre: Low Fantasy

Oh, man. This book.

Before Good Omens, my favorite book for about seven or eight years was I Am The Messenger. But sad to say, my mind and soul belong to those bittersweet philosophical novels, but my heart, the part of me that loves a book ferociously, is infatuated with satire.

And I have to say that Good Omens is probably the funniest book I’ve ever read.

I can’t even begin to explain the absurd and convoluted plot, but essentially it has to do with an angel and a demon making friendly when the apocalypse begins. That’s seriously all I want to tell you.

It’s freaking ridiculous. Every moment is saturated with witty culturalisms and allusions, ridiculous circumstances and action, and the kind of characters you hate to love, but they’re just too goddamn funny not to. If you’ve read anything by Terry Pratchett, you’ll know what I’m talking about; if not, think of the absurdity of something like Catch-22 or Candide and combine it with that evangelical fantasy structure of something like American Gods.

I promise you, if you’re quick enough to catch what goes on, you will actually cry from laughing too hard. And it actually ends up being pretty sweet, in the end. So, seriously, if you’re looking for something new to read and you like satire, just read the first page of this book and I promise you’ll be wanting more.

Anyway, that’s it! Turned out to be longer than expected. Hope you all enjoyed it, and if you want to see more stuff like this, let me know!

Yours, eating Sour Patch Watermelons,

-R.R. Buck


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