Another Sunday, another episode of the final season of Game of Thrones. I join many in my fear for the remaining Starks in this dark time, so today’s GOT book recs will be for the ruling family of Winterfell.
(This exercise is inherently spoilerey. Don’t read if you’re planning to watch the show from the beginning in the future, but I won’t be mentioning any plot points from the latest season.)
Beginning with noble, stupid Ned Stark, I’d recommend A Tale of Two Cities, particularly for the famous final monologue, a meditation on honor and self-sacrifice from (spoiler alert for a 150-year-old story) a man about to get his head chopped off. Ned would appreciate the weighty prose, self-importance, and examination of living a noble life in a chaotic world.
If that seems a little on-the-nose, he could also try something lighter. Eddard would probably get along great with Nick Offerman, whose Paddle Your Own Canoe shares timeless advice on with a rugged DIY attitude.
Catelyn Stark could use a few hours’ escape from her actual children with the soothing classic Little Women.
(This rec inspired by a favorite Cora quote from Downton Abbey:
“No one warns you about bringing up daughters. You think it’s going to be like Little Women, then they’re at each other’s throats from dawn till dusk.”
I think Cora needs to reread Little Women, tbh, but she’d probably find some agreement with season one Cat.)
If you haven’t read the Louisa May Alcott classic, you can find it for 99 cents on Kindle right now. It’s totally worth it.
Robb Stark (RIP 5evah) doesn’t need any more stories of war and epic romance, so he should stay away from those. He needs more stories about people making difficult decisions, like Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence (another classic you can snag for a dollar on Kindle) or books on prudent interpersonal interactions, like How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Jon Snow (yes, I’m putting him on this list, not next week’s Targaryan list, I stand by this decision) would appreciate All Quiet on the Western Front, which would satisfy his need to brood over his own misfortunes. He would find kinship with Remarque’s portrayals of miserable trench warfare in the WWI classic.
For something more exciting (but not really less depressing) he should try the Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. He would relate to Elias and love Laia and get way too invested in that story.
To be honest, I’m not sure how well Jon can read, though. He might be better off sticking with easier reads, like Are You My Mother? and Where The Wild Things Are. (I’ll show myself out.)
For the younger Stark siblings, I’ll recommend some Young Adult titles in addition to stuffier classics.
My love, my queen, Sansa Stark, should read Girls of Paper and Fire, a story of a palace of beautiful young women seething with rage. Natasha Ngan’s dark fantasy was my biggest positive surprise of the year so far, and Sansa might find healing and motivation in the story of strength under oppression.
She would also appreciate a story of a girl struggling with loss and a sister who doesn’t understand her, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, which I may or may not have picked just for the title. (It’s not just the title, it’s also very very good, but it was too perfect to pass up.)
But Sansa shouldn’t read only about pain. I hope she finds stories of sweet, respectful friendship and romance. Something like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Fangirl would be perfect for helping her rediscover all the things that made hopeful, oblivious Season 1 Sansa great without all the awfulness.
Our tiny little fighter Arya Stark would enjoy the recent trend of blood-soaked, dark YA fantasy. She would particularly enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology and would live for Kaz and Inej (individually, and as a power couple). A knife-wielding, smol girl out for revenge? Yes and yes.
On the other hand, a steady diet of revenge fantasy isn’t great for the soul.
Arya is just beginning to find other sources of meaning in her life again, so she should read The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe from Ally Condie, another one of my favorite YAs from this year so far. It begins as another story of a girl out for revenge in a gritty world, but becomes an unexpectedly moving story of loss and love and growing up. (Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.)
Bran… oh Bran. I’m not sure what Bran Stark would even want to read. I might give him Peter Green and the Unliving Academy, a story of an odd, dark-haired boy experiencing life beyond death. He might also be interested in The Giver, which features another boy who
thinks he knows more than everyone else about the darkness to come.
I don’t have many recs for Rickon Stark either… I feel safe recommending Rick Riordan’s books to any young reader, and he might relate to some of the characters. He could also try Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, which has a protagonist in an extraordinary world that never seems to get a handle on what’s happening around him.
I’ll be back with another set of Game of Thrones recommendations next week!
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