Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the first five books of 2011.

It's the 18th, and I've hit my book goal for the month.

But, shoo, what a selection.  I would have kept going with the Gregor books, as planned, but I was never able to get back to the library until today (hello, snowstorm), so I ended up going to the other library (the dinky Knox County one by the elementary school), and came out inundated with John Green.  By inundated, I mean I've read half his works now, and I'm a fan.  I think.  No, I know I'm a fan, I'm just not sure to whom I can recommend his books.

Julie, what are you doing reading books with teenagers having sex and engaging in mischief?  I thought that wasn't your scene?

I know, I know.  And it's true: non-marital sex (in movies, books, shows, and especially real life) makes me feel icky and squidgy and sad.  But something I have come to accept as a human being, a Christian, and a storyteller, is that I can appreciate--and often enjoy--anything, regardless of my personal convictions (most of the time--there is still a limit to this).  I MUST see the finished product for what it is.  I mean, look at Les Miserables.  It's my favorite musical of all time, and in the revival there is onstage "sex."  I could have done without it, but it doesn't make Les Mis any less my absolute favorite.

Looking For Alaska is ultimately not about sex, and if I had put the book down when it got uncomfortable for me, I would have missed all the wonderful things.  The good parts.  The big picture.  And the big picture of that book is that it's amazing, and it's one of my favorites.  Just don't go into it thinking, well, if Julie liked it, it must be tame, because, while it's not wild and downright filthy, it's not very tame, either.  Read at your own risk.

And think of me what you like.  I'm still counting it among the best I've read.

I think I intended for this post to be about all five books I've read so far in January, so here goes:

1.  Gregor The Overlander.  My goodness, Suzanne Colins, I adore the way you tell stories.  More, please?

2.  An Abundance of Katherines.  John Green.  Not as life-changing or gut wrenching as Alaska, but still fun and well written and highly enjoyable.  My only qualm:  it's supposed to be set in Middle Tennessee, but the girl went to high school in Milan, which, believe me, is in West Tennessee.  Also, the pronunciation of Milan (My-lan, instead of the "correct" Mi-lahn) is a gold mine.  Why didn't you go for that, John?  I would have laughed so hard.  Maybe that's because I'm the only person who would find it funny.

3.  Like a Thorn.  Clara Vidal.  This book caught me off guard.  I was attracted to the drawings on the cover, and the back sort of made it sound like a brief fairy tale, but it was ultimately misleading.  It's about a girl being driven to insanity by her equally unsound mother.  Kind of horrifying.  On a different note, it was written in third person present, which I actually enjoyed.  It was, strangely, a lot easier for me to read than first person present, which is always a challenge, even if I love the book.

4.  White Cat.  Holly Black.  Perfect example: Written in first person present, but I LOVED it (as much as one can "love" fiction, of course).  The world of this book is so bold and weird and scary.  It's like if "Heroes" had a magical mobster baby with "The Sopranos."  That's what this world is like.  I am so excited for the second book, Red Glove, which comes out in April.  Joshua laughed at me when I told him I wanted to buy it, but I don't care.  This is one for the bookshelf.

5.  Ah, Looking For Alaska.  Also John Green.  Sigh.  There may have been a few things that made me squirm, but who cares.  Ultimately, this book is so wonderful and true and important (albeit sad), that I can't hold anything against it.  It cracked me up (especially at the basketball games) and made me weep, and even made me cheer.  No wonder it won the Printz.  Excellent.  Excellent excellent.  Another one for the bookshelf.


  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuRuwR2JSXI

    Just saw this, and it gets me thinking that the maker of it might have similar goals for 2011.


You like to comment? I like to respond!
Either by email or on your blog, starting... now!