If a friend asks you to recommend a really good book—good writing, good characters, good story—but with no other qualifications … what would you recommend?
Generally when someone wants a recommendation–and not just for books, by the way, I request a genre. It’s mostly so I can narrow down my personal list, but also because some people are very particular about what they read. Some people won’t read fiction, some won’t read nonfiction, and sometimes people get picky about their genres. For the record, I’m of the opinion that you should never dismiss something outright because there’s probably something lurking somewhere in that genre that you’ll like, especially with as many writers and books as there are in the world.
So to make this really easy on myself, I’m gonna pick my favorite of the books I’m currently reading, which would be The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. It’s a re-read from college–sort of. I never actually finished it in college because keeping up with college reading, especially as an English major, can get tough, and The Diamond Age is kind of long and complicated. But don’t let that put you off!
It’s science fiction, playing maybe a tad with the ideas of utopias and dystopias. And technology, of course, because, duh, sci-fi. It deals with an interactive primer for little girls and what happens when a copy gets stolen by a boy who gives it to his little sister, Nell. There are lots of details surrounding who made it, how it works, where he got it, and what the fallout of that is, but much of the book follows Nell as she grows up with this primer as not just her teacher, but practically a substitute parent while she’s neglected by her mother and abused by most of her mother’s boyfriends.
In short, the primer molds Nell into a certified badass.