Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Trip to the Library

So I've been spending a lot of time at the library recently, due to some weird scheduling issues. Most of the time, the fact that we are a one automobile household doesn't cause any inconvenience, but once in a while, you're trapped and unable to leave because Metro Transit does not actually go out as far as you would like it to. You are completely allowed to loiter in a library for long periods of time and no one says a word to you. On Monday, I spent just over six hours at a public library in one of the mystery suburbs. If you got an email from me, begging for suggestions as to what to read or do, it's because I was trapped. Trapped.

So, here's what I've been reading.

On the Kindle:
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie - I wanted a new author to replace Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because I think my Sherlock Holmes obsession is perhaps a tad pretentious, but I do like a good mystery, so I thought that Miss Marple could become a character I love, but...I didn't. The book was good and I was really interested in the outcome, but the characters themselves were pretty flat. So. Yeah. I might read more Agatha Christie because it's cheap to access on the Kindle, but I don't feel the need to download the entire works of Agatha Christie.

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen - This is the first in a young adult historical fiction series. I didn't like it at first. But then something magical happened and I fell in love about halfway through and couldn't stop reading. So then I ordered the rest of the series from the library. (The first book was free; they want me to pay for the rest and I don't want to!)

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - A book about a girl who is being stalked by evil fey. Or at least, that's what I've figured out so far. I'm really enjoying this book, but I'm only about halfway through. I love books that manage to weave the magical in to day to day life without coming off as hokey or too magical realism-y. I hope it manages to keep its staying power.

From the library.
Swim the Fly by Don Calame - This book was boring until Chapter 20. Then I started laughing and completely enjoying it. I'll admit that I have trouble relating with males as main characters, but I enjoyed Matt in this book. It's not life changing literature, but it's readable and enjoyable. Young adult literature about a summer of swimming and love (and oddly perverse behavior) can't really go wrong, can it? (Yes, yes, it can. And if you read this book, please know that you're going to be astounded by the bad grammar, even in the non-dialogue parts. Full disclosure.) Frankly, I was a little relieved to read teen lit that didn't have a relative dying, a mental disorder, rape flashbacks, or dead parents, but a perfectly normal teenage existence!

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien - Straight up children's fiction!! I had to go to the kiddie section to get this classic. So I overheard a mom reading her small child the first chapter of this book while I was hunkering down at the library on Monday. So I went and got one of the seven other copies and read it to myself. This book is so great. I remember reading it over and over and over again as a kid and I know now why. It's smart, it's funny, it's a teeny bit creepy, and I want to read it over again right now.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - This is a young adult book following a girl throughout her freshman year of high school. She had a traumatic experience the summer before this school year began and we don't find out until quite late in the book what the experience was. It was quite powerful. Not everyone has the same problems that Melinda has, but we all have problems and her way to deal with them wasn't perfect, but no one really is. You should totally read this.

Black Box by Julie Schumacher - The main character's sister is sick. And she has some trouble dealing with it. Take a teenager with problems at home, throw in a little romance, and you have a classic formula for teenage literature. I am totally on board with this book. As an educator, this book (and Speak) really reminded me to remember when I am dealing with my students that the time they spend in my classroom is really a tiny fraction of what they are dealing with. It's a reminder I need over and over again, I guess. I want them to think my class is a priority in their lives, but it's true that I'm deluding myself if I fail to account for all the other tough circumstances they may be living through.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld - Hey, I totally read a grown up book. Shocking, I know. This follows the journey of a whiny spoiled brat who goes to boarding school. Frankly, the main character's complete shallowness and vacuity made me want to pull my hair out. But, as someone who didn't go to boarding school, I found the "inside look" at what that would be like to be incredibly interesting. It's fiction, so how much of what I read is truth is up in the air, but I like to think I know more then I did when I picked it up. So, read it if you can stomach a main character you can't stand for just over 400 pages.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary - We were in Iowa last weekend and my in laws gave us a bunch of books from when my husband and his siblings were little. This was in the stack. I remember this being the first chapter book I ever read, sitting out on our falling down sun-porch, thinking about how Romona was just misunderstood, just like me. As an adult, I find Ramona to be an insufferable little munchkin, but I can see why she would be so comforting to other kids.

I have three more library books and the rest of The Luxe series on order to be delivered to my library soon, so more reviews to come soon!


  1. Small bit of a correction: Beverly Cleary wrote the Ramona books, not Judy Blume (says the girl who STILL has a framed postcard from Beverly Cleary that she received in 1986. I LOVED her as a kid.)

    I'm currently reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and it is FINALLY getting good. I put it aside for a while to read The Year Of Magical Thinking (which, don't. It seems like it should be good, but, no.) but now I'm back to it and really enjoying it!

  2. Oh, thanks for the correction! I changed it. I got confused because we also got Blubber by Judy Blume at the same time. I am, of course, planning on rereading all of these books!

  3. Oh, I liked Wicked Lovely and I adore Speak. Yay! Your pack of books should get to you today or tomorrow. There's nothing in there that will blow your mind, but it's nice fluff reading. I'll send the third in the Wake series when I finish it and I've got another one that I like that a student is borrowing.

  4. I didn't think of the main character in Prep as spoiled and whiny as much as I thought of her as uncomfortable in her own skin and self-centered (like any teenager). I really liked it, though I was SO annoyed at how the character acted sometimes.

  5. I suffered through Prep, I just saw the main character as insipid and weak.

    Whiny without motivation, almost slightly entitled, but I wanted to know the end, would she change, would something switch the light on. I never grew to like her ... I can see her reflected in many people, in many kids ... I suppose that is why I often say I hate people.

  6. I just got my new Kindle and I'm loving it! The free books are great. Must admit that I'm disappointed in the limited sci-fi and fantasy selection. Many of my beloved books are falling apart and I wanted to read them on my new toy.

    I like your reviews. I have to tell you though, it's YOUR fault that I went to see Girl with a Dragon Tatoo. Your review was so glowing that I figured I'd enjoy the movie. I'm glad I saw it, but phew! Anyway, you often expose me to new books, so thank you.


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