Books read in May 2012

It’s another big YA month.  Clearly, I should have stayed in library school and clearly, I should be a youth librarian.

The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach
Two people I know (one virtually, one in person) heartily endorsed this book and their hearty endorsements were spot-on.  This is a fabulous novel, chock full of wonderful characters.  It’s about baseball, yes, but don’t let that scare you off.  It’s about so much more:  friendship and love and loyalty and pressure and that transition from college to adult life.  I feel in love with the characters (Mike Haurbach will live in my heart forever) and when I finished the book, I immediately returned to the first page and read the first fifty pages again just so I could be introduced to the characters one more time.

We the Animals
Justin Torres
A friend gave this to me as a book she loved.  It is a very short book, but was very hard for me to read because I don’t do well with childhood neglect and abuse and this book contains a lot of both.  It’s very well written, for what it’s worth.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis
I can’t say the second book in the series thrilled me.  The plus of this series so far seems to be that the books are only 15 chapters long, and thus can be read quickly.

Kristen Cashore
All the haters of the “pro-casual sex” message of the first two books can add “pro-homosexual relationships” to the things they will hate about this book.  I however, liked it.  First of all, unlike the first two books, this one has fabulous woodcut illustrations scattered throughout.  I also liked Bitterblue’s conundrum of trying to govern a state while not being able to leave the castle. There is a lot of good teenager identity and tough choices within this novel and the reappearance of characters from the other books is fun too.

Scott Westerfeld
I grabbed this book one day to read at lunch, as I had left my newspaper behind. I expected to start it, find it incredibly silly and cast it off as soon as Bitterblue arrived. Instead, I found the story quite interesting and was reluctant to put down either book.  This book has a lot of elements that make up a classic story:  something that seems really great on the surface (everyone gets surgery to look like a supermodel when they turn 16!); the main character feeling isolated and lonely (Tally’s birthday is later than her friends);  questioning (not everyone is so hip to have the surgery); a quest (which I won’t tell you about, due to spoilers); and tough choices.

In most of the fiction written for adults, the main character of this novel would be a boy.  But, thanks to the success of the Hunger Games, a lot of YA fiction features girls setting out on the heroic journey.  I’m waiting for this to trickle up to adult fiction and movies.

Please Don’t Kill the Freshman
Zoe Trope
This book could go on a Goodreads shelf titled: books written by authors I take Pilates with.  However, since Zoe Trope hasn’t yet written a second novel and there are no other authors in my Pilates class, it would be a very thin shelf.  I’ve been interested in this book since its release several years ago (Portland setting! Written by actual high school teenager!) but have just now gotten around to reading it.  It was tough going the first 50 pages.  I almost stopped reading, overwhelmed by the voice that was clearly very smart and clearly very, very disdainful of school.  However, I kept going and was rewarded by that disdain fading and leaving some incredibly delightful prose.  It’s rough and could have used more editing–something that was rejected by the author–but the roughness has its charms and the charms are many.  It’s also nice to see the difference in acceptance of gay teenagers at the high school level ten years after I graduated from high school.

Started and did not finish
Spontaneous Happiness
Andrew Weil
I really liked this book from the very beginning when Andrew Weil discusses the fact that he thinks the title is misleading and that what we are looking for is a general contentment, rather than full-on happiness.  He then discusses various things we could all be doing to feel more content with our lives (eating right, exercising, meditating, supplements, etc.) and discusses his own journey with depression.  There is an 8-week plan for creating more happiness in your life and I’ve made a note in my planner to revisit the book in November, when it becomes more difficult for me to stay in a general state of contentment.

What I talk about when I talk about  running
Hariki Murakami
Still high off of 1Q84, I checked the library for any copy of anything Murakami had written that was actually available (as opposed to something I would have to put on hold and wait for) and came up with this book.  In some ways, it was interesting, giving insight into how Murakami writes and his journey to be a writer, in other ways it was kind of boring.  I’m interested in reading about people’s sports practices, but not that interested.  I kept bypassing it for other books and eventually sent it back to the library.

One thought on “Books read in May 2012”

  1. Yay for YA!!! I love it!!! I considered being a librarian as well. It was my first plan for grad school. And sometimes I wish I had taken that path…

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