Thursday, September 11, 2008

Book a Week update

I feel like haven't mentioned any books here in quite awhile but I am still plugging away at my book a week challenge. Here's the update:

Books read: 44
Pages read: 14,054
Recent favorites:

Maus by Art Spiegelman. Read my review at LDS Readers.

This is What I Did; by Ann Dee Ellis. Read my review and an interview with the author at A Motley Vision because I am now an official blogger there. (It's the coolest LDS arts and culture site out there. Definitely worth checking out!)

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (because everyone should read some tween lit every now and again!)

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. (More delightful tween lit.) Read my review at LDS Readers here.

I've started more research for my book on Deaf Holocaust survivors and so my reading has taken a rather grim turn. I'm trying to alternate sad books with light books. I'll let you know if I come across any other good ones.

What books have you all read lately? Anything you'd recommend? Be sure to tell me in the comments!


Tyler said...

(I've been meaning to respond to your AMV post, but my life, as you can imagine, is pretty full up right now.) Anyway, I just finished Vathek by William Beckford, a very strange Gothic, Oriental fantasy about a surfeitous Caliph that gets duped into thinking his journey to inherit the treasures of the Subterranean Palace of Fire (or something like that)--what we would call "Hell"--will result in great power and eternal happiness. It's well-written and very ornate (very Rococo), but the characters are pretty shallow, really, although the Caliph’s mother, a Saracen queen of sorts, does have a bit more depth than the rest of the cast, in a creepy sort of way.

Before that I read The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, another very strange, almost silly Gothic novel (one of the first in the genre, really) that combines some supernatural elements with surprise unveilings of identity that are central to the story. This one’s a bit more difficult to read than Vathek, especially since the dialog is embedded—no quotation marks!—in extremely long, drawn out paragraphs. It’s also very ornate and pretty creepy, Gothic sort of way.

And before that, I read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a very well-written overturning of Frank Baum’s Oz. In some ways, this novel carries a similar creepiness as the Gothic novels I’m reading right now, an uncanniness that drew me in to an experience with the complete otherness of its world. The characters are pretty fully fleshed out, especially Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, a woman whose evilness isn’t as cut-and-dried as the movie depicts (at least Maguire’s version of her isn’t ) and whose intentions become a driving force behind the story’s progression.

Laura said...

Tyler--You and your Gothic novels; isn't grad school a treat :)

And as for Wicked, well, that book really shook me up. It was well done, but so, so dark. I finished it and I felt like I'd been pulled out to sea emotionally. It was hard for me to tell which way was up, let alone whether or not it was a good book. I have a hard time because it was amazingly written but it was pretty dirty (I ended up skimming a lot) and the process of normalizing evil that the book takes you through made me so uncomfortable. But the writing was amazing . . .

Misty Lynne said...

Have you ever tried the Newberry Award winners? They tend to be more on the light side, and some are really good.

"Out of the Dust", a story about a girl living through the Dust Bowl, is all written in pros. The story is depressing for kid's lit though. Other favorites are "Jonny Tremain" (Boston Tea Party time period), "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" (colonial America), "Number the Stars" (Jewish Holocaust), and "The Giver" (messianic type story). There's also the Predain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (standard fantasy).

Again, it's children's lit, but they're good for what they are. (And yes, I like historical fiction).

Tyler said...

Oh yes, Laura. Grad school is awesome! Right now I'm plowing my way through Matthew Lewis' The Monk, another sex-ridden Gothic novel about, well, a monk that slips a bit (to say the least).

As for Wicked, I see where you're coming from. It is pretty risque (again, to say the least), doesn't really give any easy answers, and isn't an easy read emotionally by any means. Definitely not a book for younger readers. I'm interested in reading his sequel, Son of a Witch, to see what he makes of that story.

Heathie said...

I was going to suggest "Out of the Dust," too, but Misty Lynne beat me to it. A couple weeks ago I picked up "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom. It was a very good book. Right now I'm reading "The Audacity of Hope" by Barak Obama. I really like it, but I have a hard time keeping a lot of the political terms straight. I'm learning a lot, though.

mary lou said...

I've picked up some books at the library. One that was recommended to me by a friend is called "Feelings Buried Alive Never Die," by Karol K. Truman. It's about how feelings we experience as children become beliefs which may cause emotional and/or physical problems later in life. Another one I saw while in that aisle at the library is called "Could It Be B12?" by Sally M. Pacholok, R.N. It's about how vitamin B12 deficiency can present as a host of maladies, including depression, alzheimer's, autism, neurologic disorders, fibromyalgia, etc. (I had an injection of B12 years ago and felt wonderful afterward.)The other book is "Preparedness Principles" by Barbara Salsbury. I'm struggling to learn how to pack a 72 hour kit (or anything bigger than an overnight bag--I never was good at packing or going camping).