I read books picked by reddit for a week to see if reddit has taste
And it kinda went well...
Welcome to my newsletter! I am Arjun Agarwal and I hope to convince you that books are better than buttercream biscuits.
I came up with the idea of reviewing Reddit books as a joke.... but I don't think it's
a joke anymore. So I have decided to delay my normal half quarterly book ranking for reviewing books recommended by reddit.
While a lot of reddit is very toxic or full of underage kids trying to act edgy( Yes, I am looking at you r/teenagers), the r/books and r/booksuggestions are some of the most helpful and wholesome communities on the internet.
On r/booksuggestions, people share their reading experiences, their book recommendations, and I feel like there are a few books which are just always being shared by everyone, and so I wanted to see if these books are actually worth the hype.
Let’s if the books worth reading or I have made a mistake by having read-it
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Long time readers would know that I have given some pretty salty reviews for popular tear-jerkers. This book broke that steak.
The Road is a story about a father and son travelling alone through post-apolcalyptic burned America.
And I am gonna say no more. One needs to read this book to understand its true depth. However, the book is not for the faint of heart. The book is bleak and depressing, very depressing, still it inspires hope. Throughout the book, the father and son see horrible sites and bare through inhuman conditions. They go through the worst of times but still continue living despite it all.
This book shows the value of working through adversity even when things seem hopeless-- the value of protecting who and what you care about.
11.22.63 by Stephen King
It is no secret that I adore Stephen King, and then it is no secret that I love time travel. So much so that in collaboration with 12 other substack authors, I have worked on the craziest time travel story of all time.
With the shameless plug out of the way, I just pray that someday what I write reaches the level of this book.
It's just one of those extremely rare books that grabs and doesn’t let go till you finish the last page. It has excellent flow and pacing all throughout. The book gets you curious early using the essay of Henry Dunning’s father. and slowly builds up to the main plot, of the JFK assasination.
While I am the kind of nerd who will ‘um, actually…’ anything, I seriously recommend you don’t look for historical or scientific accuracy while reading 11.22.63. In the book when Al was explaining the time travel mechanics to Jake. Jake asks “what if I went back in time and killed my grandfather?” And Al just stares blankly and says “why would you do that?”
That’s Stephen King asking you to not get bogged down by the science and enjoy this excellent story he had created for you to read.
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
The late Sir Terry Pratchett was a hell of a writer. His books have the plot complexity of G.R.R Martin, the humor of Douglas Adams and the world building of Stephen King; all in less than 300 pages.
Wyrd Sisters is a retelling of Macbeth but from the witches perspective. However combined with Sir Terry Pratchett’s impeccable writing style, Macbeth is elevated to a whole new level. I have been at times, very critical of retellings but this book changes that. It offers a whole new take on Macbeth but without destroying the essence of the original.
While the normal Pratchett universe is already filled with deeper meanings and hidden treasures of pop culture references, Easter Eggs, and ironic criticism; directly retelling a story is icing on a cake. The use characters from the classic but exaggerating their traits to absurd levels is ingenious and hilarious.
I really don’t wish to spoil it for you. It’s the kind of experience you can only enjoy by actually reading the book.
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
I don’t think I’ll offend anyone when I say that this book might as well as be Terry Pratchett’s masterpiece.
The book explores what has happened, happens, and will happen as soon as faith goes mad, uncontrolled, and vicious. When faith tries to expand it’s sphere of influence and doesn´t care about the foundations and rules, contradicting its own commandments.
While sci-fi has long explored the concept of faith and its power to exert great influence and control over it’s believers, Sir Pratchett offers a new take.
Small Gods is about the land of Omnia, where the great god Om is worshiped and all who don’t are subject to the Quisition – a satire of the political/theological Inquisition. His high priest Vorbis controls all with fear of holy retribution. However it seems no one actually believes in Om as the citizens of Omnia are more fearful of the autocratic sect than the god Om.
It´s great how the deity is irritated by the way humans invented many rules, holy books, misused its name for product placement and branding, institutionalized torture and holy wars, and in general, didn´t take the advice it gave to them seriously. The more it gets to know about the real world, the more shocked and disgusted it is.
While many authors have explored themes of religion better, The Dune Series by Frank Herbert is an excellent example. Pratchett prefers to have some fun with the idea that a god exists because of the number of people who believe. In Small Gods, only lowly novice Brutha truly believes in Om and Pratchett fashions a story around the strange relationship between the two.
Featuring Pratchett’s signature humor and superb writing, this scathing satire on religion is one of his darker Discworld outings but also one of his best.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I am gonna ask all my fellow science nerds to calm down.
The book is so scientifically inaccurate that if you read it to Einstein’s grave, he would raise from his grave, snatch the book, burn it and then return back to his grave.
However, the book is by no means bad. It starts out pretty simple and then very quickly it turns insane and just keeps getting crazier and crazier. When you think it can't get any crazier it does. It takes the evil twin trope to a whole new level.
Once you start you will not be able to keep it down.
As it turns out, Reddit has significantly better taste than Bookstagram and Booktube combined. However, thats my opinion and by no means is universal. So please don’t start an inter social media riot and peace out.
If a riot breaks out anyway, remember I am team Reddit.
Thanks for reading,