So I haven’t been writing much. Well, I’ve been writing, but not here. Other things have taken up my time, and when I’ve had a free hour, I’ve jealously guarded it for reading. All of a sudden, all of my library requests came pouring in, and I have had more books to read than I could keep up with. But, I was waiting on some work things today and used that time to just think, and my thoughts turned to this space and what I want from it.
I’ve never been particularly interested in reviewing books. And I think admitting that frees me. I’ve felt as though that is what this space should be since that’s what I see other book bloggers doing. While I love to read and a few free books would certainly be nice, I’m more interested in just talking about books and the experience of reading. (Confession: I don’t know how that’s actually different from reviewing. Perhaps because I wouldn’t make a recommendation as to whether someone should buy the book? It just makes more sense for me to think in those terms.) Kind of like a book club for one, unless you’d like to join me in the comments.
But I think that’s the most important thing: deciding that this space is for my thoughts about reading and books that I love. And I read a lot, and I read a lot of different things. When I was teaching, we discussed John Ciardi’s essay “Another School Year: What For?” at the beginning of (almost) every school year. And this passage about reading usually sparked the liveliest discussion:
When you have read a book, you have added to your human experience. Read Homer and your mind includes a piece of Homer’s mind. Through books you can acquire at least fragments of the mind and experience of Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare—the list is endless. For a great book is necessarily a gift: it offers you a life you have not time to live yourself, and it takes you into a world you have not time to travel in literal time. A civilized human mind is, in essence, one that contains many such lives and many such worlds.
Isn’t that wonderful? How can you not agree with that?
Since I last posted, I believe that I have read In the Woods, Little Bee, The Red Pyramid, Wicked Lovely, The Dead-Tossed Waves, Incarceron, and The Iron King. I enjoyed them all, some more than others.
In the Woods: This one took me the longest to read, but that’s because the prose is so dense. Even though it’s a mystery, the focus is on the characters and their development, not on rushing from place to place to solve a crime. I know I’m in the minority, but I liked this one better than The Likeness. Better protagonist, better narrative voice.
Little Bee: Everything I heard and read about this book turned out to be true. It’s moving, well-written, and unexpected. And it’s a book you should read without much prior knowledge. Exceptional.
The Red Pyramid: I do love middle grade fiction and Egyptian mythology. And I couldn’t read the Percy Jackson books fast enough. But alas, while this was a compelling read, it just couldn’t capture the magic of the Olympians. I liked it, just not as much as I had hoped to. I think my kids will love it, though.
Wicked Lovely: This is one that I enjoyed, but not as much as other fantasy/supernatural YA books I’ve read. It was a fun read, though. I would definitely give it to a teenager who enjoys this particular genre of YA.
The Iron King: And this one was very similar to Wicked Lovely – faeries, kings and queens and a human-ish girl caught in the middle. But I loved how this book took the mythology that we’re familiar with and updated it for present time. It was impressive, actually. I wasn’t completely sold on the Iron King part of the story, but I enjoyed the writing and characters enough to look forward the second book in the series, coming out later this summer. It was captivating.
Incarceron: This may be my favorite YA book that I read during the past month. It’s one of those books that fits squarely in my reading wheelhouse – dystopia, complicated world-building, strong female protagonist. I described it on Twitter as kind of a mix between Hunger Games and Graceling, and I’m standing by that. It’s definitely different from each one, but it has elements of both, perhaps the best elements. I think the story has fascinating potential, and I’ve read that it’s been optioned for a TV series on Fox.
And that brings me to The Dead-Tossed Waves: Zombies – yet another one of my favorite book topics. I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and while I was initially disappointed that this book didn’t follow that exact same story line, I quickly forgave Carrie Ryan and found myself engrossed in a brand new adventure. I wish I knew what it was about zombies that I find so endlessly interesting. I think, honestly, it’s because it seems possible. And while I love horror movies, this particular take on the genre is more human and more trying to recover from the disease rather than just survive the initial attack. It’s like a humanized (and fictional) version of what happens after World War Z.