Throughout the year, I’ll dig deeper into the prompts of The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge 2022. I’ll talk about the music, the prompt and recommend about 5 books I think would go well with it. The prompt of the week: Lose Yourself.
I got introduced to Eminem by a friend, who was a huge fan. As I wanted to be friends with this person, I decided to show interest in his taste in music. By that time I was listening to a couple of Hungarian hip hop musicians and some I still listen to this day, but eventually, I accepted that it’s not my genre. Still, Eminem always will be close to my heart, and I’ll always listen to a couple of his songs whenever I happen upon them. I think the album I listened to the most was The Eminem Show which such songs as Cleanin’ Out My Closet, Business, Soldier, Without Me. And then there is his hit song with Dido, Stan which forever got his place in popular culture. And then there are other classics like My Name Is, The Real Slim Shady, etc. I probably could go on.
Lose Yourself is a single that was written for 8 Mile, the first movie Eminem appeared in as an actor. Despite popular belief, it is not a biopic, although the writes did pick up elements from Eminem’s life. It’s a great movie too, although I haven’t seen it in a good while. It’s also no wonder Lose Yourself picked up an Oscar, the first hip-hop song ever earning that honor.
Listen to the album
Listen to the Song
Lose Yourself is definitely among my favorite Eminem songs. Back then I didn’t understand a word of it, of course, but that never hold me back before. I’m not quite sure how I came up with the idea of picking this song as a prompt, but I’m going to chalk it up for my genius. One of my favorite parts of the song is the intro, those starting lines:
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?
BOOM. Best starting lines, ever. This theme of seizing your one shot comes back in the refrain too:
You better lose yourself in the music
The moment, you own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo
Some say to find your way, first, you have to get lost. And so for this prompt, I’ll use a book in which a character goes on a journey – be it a literal one or a personal one – at the end of which they learn who they are. But also, keeping the song itself in mind, it can be about a character who just loses themselves in the moment, experience joy, success, take their one shot, and make the best of it.
This is a prompt that can be pretty much a blanket for a lot of things. In my picks, I mostly focused on the characters in the books, but you can also pick a book you lose yourself in, or where characters go through different situations than the ones I chose. It’s pretty open to interpretations.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
I’m starting off with a YA Romance novel I really enjoyed back in the day. I admit, I really like Gayle Forman‘s YA books and often go back to them when in need of a comfort read. Especially to Where She Went, the sequel to If I Stay. Just One Day is the first book of a duology telling the story of Allyson and Willem, who meet in Stratford-upon-Avon on one summer evening then spend a day traveling to France before it’s time for Allyson to go home to the US. During this one day, Allyson learns so much more about herself than ever in her life. She decides to be spontaneous for a change and go with the flow. Even if she has no idea where that might lead. In a sence, she loses herself, and then she is determined to find her true self through a series of adventures and heartache.
This book resonates a lot with me, because of my US trip back in 2014. I was not as daring as Allyson and I certainly had no love story but it definitely was a huge step toward self-discovery.
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.
When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Boyle
Let’s switch to a bit younger audience with this MG Fantasy novel, The Storm Keeper’s Island, which is the first book in Catherine Boyle‘s acclaimed Storm Keeper series. It’s not what I generally pick up, but I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook when I was into something lighthearted. Fionn is such a good character you can’t help but root for. And while he is reluctant at first, he slowly gets used to life on the Irish island and to his grandfather’s way of life. And at one point, Fionn has to decide whether he seizes his moment or lets it taken away from him as the storm is gathering above the island.
When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet …
Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.
But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.
Black Stone Heart by Michael R. Fletcher
If you say grimdark, one of the first authors that always will come to mind is Michael R. Fletcher. The guy does not hold back on the dark stuff which I guess makes reading his books such a great experience, weird may it sound. I chose to feature Black Stone Heart for this prompt, because, at the beginning of the story, Khraen is pretty much lost. Not in the “Where I am?” sense, but rather in the “Who I am?” sense. He is alive, and he has a life, but apparently, a large chunk of his memory is missing along with most of his obsidian heart which was shattered. And so, he sets out on a journey to literally pick up his own pieces and face his past throughout the trilogy.
A broken man, Khraen awakens alone and lost. His stone heart has been shattered, littered across the world. With each piece, he regains some small shard of the man he once was.
He follows the trail, fragment by fragment, remembering his terrible past.
There was a woman.
There was a sword.
There was an end to sorrow.
Khraen walks the obsidian path.
The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan
To pick The Justice of Kings for this prompt might be a bit of a stretch, but this prompt is not an easy one to pick for. I eventually decided to include Richard Swan‘s debut novel because of Helena Sedanka, the narrator of the story. Throughout the book, as she recounts her life with Konrad Vonvalt, the King’s Justice, she also faces some questions on her own. Which leads her to decide about her fate and which path she would like to walk on. To say anything more would be spoiler territory, so let’s live it at that. I also think this book fits because of the way Konrad performs one of his powers, necromancy.
The Justice of Kings, the first in a new epic fantasy trilogy, follows the tale of Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one. As he unravels a web of secrets and lies, Vonvalt discovers a plot that might destroy his order once and for all – and bring down the entire Empire.
As an Emperor’s Justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt always has the last word. His duty is to uphold the law of the empire using whatever tools he has at his disposal: whether it’s his blade, the arcane secrets passed down from Justice to Justice, or his wealth of knowledge of the laws of the empire. But usually his reputation as one of the most revered—and hated—Justices is enough to get most any job done.
When Vonvalt investigates the murder of a noblewoman, he finds his authority being challenged like never before. As the simple case becomes more complex and convoluted, he begins to pull at the threads that unravel a conspiracy that could see an end to all Justices, and a beginning to lawless chaos across the empire.
One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
Another out-of-the-box pick is One Word Kill, the first book in Mark Lawrence‘s Impossible Times trilogy which – to my surprise – I loved very much. It’s about a teenage boy who happens to be a genius when it comes to quantum physics, loves playing D&D with his friends, and recently found out he has leukemia. And if that wasn’t enough a mysterious guy, Demus appears and asks for his help to save a girl named Mia. Nick has to work against strange odds and One Word Kill is only the beginning. This book is about self-discovery on a whole another level, while it deals with topics such as death and loss, wrapped up in a bubble filled with 80s music and a bit of humor on the side.
In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.
Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.
He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.