What if your world was slightly different? Four books that look at the world in a different way, or try to make it different.

Flowers for Algernon/Daniel Keyes

If you read one book off this list, this is the one I think you should get. It’s written as a series of progress reports from Charlie, an intellectually handicapped man who undergoes experimental treatment to make him more intelligent. The reports follow his development over the course of the treatment, and then Algernon, the mouse who was the original experiment, starts to go downhill and then dies. The book shows Charlie wanting to be better/brighter to have more friends, and then getting it – but finding that it doesn’t give him everything he wants. It’s also about how people can be both kind and cruel to people who are different, no matter in what way they are different. And if you could have everything in the world that you wanted, but it might be taken away from you and leave you worse off, would it still be worth it?

I’d recommend this to strong readers from about 13 yrs with no upper age – it’s a great book. If you’re looking for it, it will be in the adult science fiction and fantasy section of the library.

The Book Thief / Markus Zusak

WW2 fiction about a German girl who stole books. Written from the perspective of Death, so quite interesting and not always in the expected order. Not paced as an action story at all, but still very easy to keep reading. There are lots of reviews on this book already so I won’t write much more here – but I enjoyed it, it’s quite a different book.

A mango-shaped space : a novel/ Wendy Mass

A girl who has a secret – she sees sounds, letters and names as colours and shapes. Her cat is called Mango, because that’s what the sounds he makes look like to her, yellow and orange. She has trouble with maths, because the numbers all have colours and she can’t make an x equal a 5 when they look different. Her family is all a bit strange, and most people think she’s more “normal” but she feels that she is actually the strange one. Interesting book to think about how we perceive the world, keeping secrets and what is “normal”. Good for people who prefer real world books to fantasy.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe/Markus Zusak

Another one written by Markus Zusak. Two teenage brothers join an illegal fighting ring. Written from the perspective of the younger brother watching his older brother fight and always win, and finding out that his older brother is jealous of his ability to keep getting up even when he has lost. Very relatable book, could be set in any small town anywhere really. An easy read, but very much about issues such as job loss, family pride and wanting something more from life.

I’d recommend this to anyone who has a brother or sister. Could be good for NCEA reading lists.