Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Complete Maus: A Survivor's TaleThe Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A graphic novel actually won a Pulitzer, with good reason. You may be able to see/hear/read a lot of what the Spiegelmans endure in many other World War II memoirs, but "Maus" is told from the unique perspective of first-hand narration from Art's father, Vladek, and from a second-generation survivor struggling to understand what his parents went through in the war. Spiegelman effectively breaks up the headiness of the war history by switching the narration up between the war and present day conversation between father and son. This one really lived up to the hype.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

For a dreary Monday afternoon

I'm a life-long reader, meaning: reading books and all that it entails is the only thing I have ever done with my life with any real consistency. Everything else falls to the wayside. I've tried soccer, I've tried roller derby, I've tried horseback riding (that one is second ... but not a close second), running, basketball, journalism.

But I am always a reader. And when I think about the time, and space and relationships that have been devoured, for the sake of that next page, that next scene, that next author, that next book I have to have ... it's really quite pathetic, really.

26 years, countless hours melting into days and weeks and months. And all that it means to? Some 450 books. I read and all that it it amounts to is some 450 books that I have actually read.

Not much, is it?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A NovelHow to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel by Charles Yu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book could be summed up as a coming-of-age survival story, but it is so much more than that. In its own words: "The story of a man trying to figure out what he knows, teetering on the edge of yes or no, of risk or safety, whether it is worth it or not to go on, to carry on, into the breach of each successive moment."

At times it's laugh-out-loud funny, at times it made me cry, and throughout, it's beautiful, stream-of-conscious, poetic. It gets bit redundant at times -- the same plot loops said a few different ways throughout, but that's also kind of the point. Well worth the read.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wicked Lovely Series: Darkest Mercy

Darkest Mercy (Wicked Lovely, #5)Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series was such a guilty pleasure for me, but it was solidly good (what the Twilight series should have been, in the end). Yes, there's teen romance and love triangles, but in all the right ways. Marr does an excellent job of developing the characters throughout the series and draws from classic fey folklore. I love the play between the courts. Just another ya series I can't stop reading -- but at least this one was written coherently.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

House of Mystery

House of Mystery, Vol. 1: Room and BoredomHouse of Mystery, Vol. 1: Room and Boredom by Matthew Sturges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I looked into House of Mystery because of my love of Fables and Jack of Fables. They are as different as night and day, but both excellent. The series focuses on five characters who are trapped in a supernatural bar set in the House of Mystery (an architectural hodge-podge, creepy mansion) where people pay their tab in the only accepted currency of the realm: story telling. While much darker than Fables, the two series share Sturges and Willingham's wit and humor. I'm interested to see where they take it in the next volume.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

All About Love: New Visions

A coworker of mine recommended bell hooks to me. I'm glad she did. The book's premise is an interesting one, and I agreed with a lot of what hooks' argues. Hooks contends that many in our society have forgotten how to love, what it is to love. If you love someone, you do not abuse them, physically or mentally. Hooks believes that there is a difference between affection and love, that many confuse the two.

Anyone who thinks "falling in love" is something that happens to you against your will -- that love is not a choice -- does not know love. Love is a choice, a decision you make to commit to someone; it is something you have to work for.

Hooks covers spirituality, familial love, romantic love, commitment, honesty, values, community.

I haven't read as much non-fiction as I should. I've never read any "self-help" books and I have barely scratched the surface in philosophy, sociology and feminism. This is a book of essays on various topics concerning love -- the first in a series of three by hooks. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in really examining yourself, your values and relationships.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"What is the What"

I'm having difficulty putting into words what I want to say about this book. It had huge emotional impact for me and really illuminated the tragedy that has happened in Sudan over the last decades. African history in general (let alone country-specific events) is vague to so many Americans. "What is the What" is a must-read for anyone with any interest in modern-day Sudan. Beautifully written, gripping and funny. Eggers' brings home a frightening tragedy while making it compelling and accessible. Achek's story is the epitome of triumph over tragedy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"The Art of Racing in the Rain"

I bought "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein as a Christmas gift for someone and ended up reading it myself because I decided giving any family member a book narrated by an old dog about to die just seemed cruel.

And if you think that's a depressing beginning, it just gets worse from there. After the dog, Enzo, reveals in the first two pages that he is reflecting on his life with his owner Denny and his family as he dying -- he then informs you Denny's wife ends up dying, too. And then he proceeds to go back in time to allow you to become emotionally involved with Denny and Eve and their daughter Zoe before Eve dies.

And then it gets worse again, but I won't tell you about that part and ruin the meat of the plot for you.

I'm making the book sound terrible: it's not; it's just terribly depressing. It's actually beautifully written with wonderful characters and an interesting, if slightly melodramatic, plot. If you can get past how utterly heart-wrenching the book is (and let me tell you, the downward spiral in Denny's life kept going far longer than I expected), the book of course ends up being an ultimately uplifting story.

But, wow, I went through a full box of tissues before reaching the uplifting bit.