Wednesday, January 01, 2014

December 2013 Books

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall (library book) -I don't usually like historical fiction, but I thought the writing in this was phenomenal.  You probably won't hate it.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (library book) - I know it's a classic, but...meh.

Kneeknock Rise by Natalie Babbitt (library book) -  I could see how this would be a satisfying entry into the world of mysteries for young readers and I enjoyed it myself.

Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis (library book) -  This was an interesting look at the world of competitive Scrabble.  But, honestly, I thought that Fatsis was super annoying in his I-want-to-win-but-I-don't-want-to-study-the-words attitude.  Maybe it's just that I'm currently bogged down in end of the semester bullshit from students who want to pass my class, but haven't done any work all semester long, but that's not how the fucking world works.  If something is worth doing and is important to you, then it's worth the work it takes to reach your goal.  I found myself wanting to strangle him many times in this book.

 Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry (library book)   - I was absolutely riveted by this book. It reminded me a great deal of The Name of the Wind, but told as a young adult book with a female protagonist.  Well, it reminded me of The Name of the Wind until about halfway through and then it took an unexpected turn and it just kept getting better and better. I honestly don't remember the last time I was so excited about reading a book or the last time I was so sad when the book ended because I wanted the story to keep unfolding.  Read this book.

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral (library book)  - This book sparked a debate about what could and could not be called a novel in our house.  This book has "A Novel" written on the cover, but it's not a novel. It's a picture book. It's lovely and haunting, but it's not a novel. It's the story of romance, mental illness, and teenage angst. My definition of novel: A fictional story arc told with complete sentences and paragraphs.  His definition: Fictional story.  We then argued about fictional poetry and he called me an old-fashioned relic who is scared to experiment with the novel as form.  Then we ate dinner.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (library book) - I really, really, really liked this because it was just so delightfully charming. It really helped put me in the holiday spirit. It's the correspondence between a woman in New York and various employees of a bookshop in London and it's witty and just resonated with me as a book lover. The book is out of print, but my public library had a copy.

 A Proud Taste for Scarlet and  Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg (library book) - I was riveted by this.  It's storytelling at its absolute best. This is must read historical fiction and I rarely say that about that particular genre.  I only picked it up because From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of my favorites when I was a young reader and I'm quite happy that I did read it.  If you haven't read it, you should read it.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black (library book) - This book was fine, but I wish I had read Wicked Lovely again instead of reading this one, so it certainly wasn't a home run.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I by M. T. Anderson (library book) - I was most interested in the author's note at the end of the novel about educational experiments on slaves and Native Americans in the Revolutionary Time period and not the actual novel.  I took out the second volume of this series from the library at the same time, but I didn't read it. 

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdich (library book) - This was beautifully written. But it was so bleak and hopeless that I couldn't finish it.  I found myself constantly dispirited after reading pages of this book that I just gave up. I think it's a sign of good writing that I felt so strongly about what I was reading, but I also think that my own mental health, precarious as it is in the long winter months, was not up for the task of slogging through familial dysfunction during the shortest days of the year.

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