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I have been reading a lot lately, and not really blogging about anything. Ugh. I know I should be writing more.  Baby steps. Here is a little bit about some of the fiction I’ve read lately.

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
I was mostly familiar with David Levithan for writing 1/2 of the book Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Green, which I have read and liked) and as 1/2 of the team who wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (the book, with Rachel Cohn, which I have not read but I was pleasantly surprised by the movie). This didn’t blow me away, but it was certainly lovely and interesting. It’s organized as a dictionary so the stories occur alphabetically instead of chronologically. I like that you can read it differently any time you pick it up, and that it will feel different/read differently based on who is reading it. It was a quick enough read that I would definitely recommend it to someone looking for a quick charming novel.

Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
Recommended. This is the second in the Dirk Gently series. Dirk, for those who are unfamiliar, is a private holistic detective. The first book involved a couple of ghosts and a lot of other wacky stuff. It was ok, but very very very slow to develop. This one was great right off the bat. It also draws heavily on mythology acting up in the modern world, which is something I LOVE (my very favorite book is American Gods). The story engaged me to the very end, and involved just the right mix of clarity and complexity. I think the first book had to many characters and plotlines and weird things going on you didn’t know were going on. This one took all the good stuff from the first book and jettisoned most of the nonsense.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I hated every minute of this book. Well there was one single minute when I liked it, but every other minute was spent hating this book. I am still so angry that spent so much time reading because it was vastly unsatisfying. I went into it pretty excited because it has gotten so much great press. My idol Linda Holmes on Pop Culture Happy Hour said she read it in one sitting while on a plane. She couldn’t say enough good things about it (mentioned about 41:15 in that linked episode)! Barrie Hardymon too! I cannot imagine that. I found it was pure drudgery and I felt like I was turning pages not because it was an un-put-down-able page-turner but because of muscle memory. I wish it were 75-100 pages shorter. I wish at least one of the characters was likable. I wish the twist was satisfying. I wish the format were satisfying. And I wish the writing were enjoyable. I hated it so much.

The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker
Recommended! I was really taken aback by this one. Ostensibly it’s a story about a man who breaks his shoelaces then buys new shoe laces over his lunch hour. The book is so little about that story though. He goes on all kinds of tangents about design and modern life that were fascinating and elegant. So much of the book takes place in the footnotes, and some of those footnotes stretch across several pages. It is not fast-paced or dramatic or exciting. It is cerebral and nuanced and careful. I found Baker’s (character’s) rich internal life a lot like my own and I was very impressed with this tremendous little book.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Allie has
completed her goal of reading 150 books in 2012!

I have been reading a lot lately, and not really blogging about anything. Ugh. I know I should be writing more.  Baby steps. Here is a little bit about some of the graphic novels I’ve read lately.

Goliath by Tom Gauld
Aw, man. Real good, but also real sad. This is the story of Goliath, yes the Goliath of “The Bible” fame. I mean, I know how this story ends, I just definitely wish this one didn’t end like this. Tom Gauld’s style is so pared down and simple, it makes this very well known story very wrenching and sympathetic.  I always like stories that have a thoughtful and likable weirdo at the center, and this fits the bill very well. Basically I’ll read (and probably love) anything published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi
Recommended! I started reading The Amulet series (highly recommended, too) a while back and fell totally in love with it. After that I looked up all the comics by Kibuishi in the library catalog and read all of them. Daisy Kutter is earlier than the Amulet series, but you can see so much of Kibuishi’s sensibility building. There are robots and old-timey things alongside one another. It sounds sort of steampunk, and it is, but not in a lame way. It’s more like Firefly, which is a very apt comparison particularly because it’s also a western.

I really like how Kibuishi writes female characters. They are strong and awesome, but not flawless sexy martyrs. The book might be short (or shorter than a regular novel) but there are so many character-developing glances, movements, and affectations.

Also there’s a really bad ass robot gun.

Batman: Death by Design by Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor.
Very disappointing. I’ve been going through a bit of a Batman kick lately (the new movie, and episode of The Indoor Kids dedicated to all things Batman, and an episode of How Did This Get Made about Batman & Robin). I give it 2 stars instead of 1 solely because of the architectural details.

At first glance, the art looks really beautiful — moody, responsive, and atmospheric — But it really didn’t make sense when reading the comic. It took me a while to figure out why it looked so weird and then it hit me: most of the characters’ mouths were closed when they were talking. It looks so ridiculous. And the color palette is awful. It’s almost all a soft charcoal color, with some not-very-dark darks and some very strange pastel color accents. Gross.

There’s also just waaaay too much writing. It was so boring to plod through because there was too much to read with so little visual pay-off. I had no investment in the plot or the characters, and one of the characters is Batman!

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman
It had been a while since I read a true graphic novel, as most of the graphic stuff I read (at least in 2012) is non-fiction. This book is about two Jewish twin sisters living in New York in the early 20th century, and the different paths they take. Life was pretty rough and tumble in those days, and there aren’t very many sentimental frames in this book. It was a time of great possibility, but also of some very sharp and harsh differences in class and culture along those ethnic lines.

Corman really brings life to the pages through the Yiddish dialect and the bustle of the streets. She captures the excitement, difficulties, and clutter of the time period. Her drawing isn’t pristine (something I really like in my comics) but it is stylish. There’s room for outrageous expressions and comic portrayals as well as beautiful and careful renderings, and the story isn’t hampered or diverted by that.

The sisters end up in vastly different places than I expected, and the story was always shifting and growing with these fallible and very flawed women. All in all, a very successful book.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Allie has
completed her goal of reading 150 books in 2012!

I have been reading a lot lately, and not really blogging about anything. Ugh. I know I should be writing more. Baby steps. Here is a little bit about some of the young adult novels I’ve read lately.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
READ THIS. Here’s the gist: a plane full of beauty pageant contestants crash land on an island and have to fend for themselves.  It sounds pretty silly, but trust me it was amazing.

It was insanely awesome to read a book that is about all the things I love (disability, bodies, gender, sexuality, beauty pageants, television, etc.). Most novels (YA especially) I’ve read that deal with any one of those issues has done it in a way that is so tacky and dumb. This book was so goofy and fun while also being A+ on the stuff I care about. I was so energized by reading it!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Do not read this. Here’s the gist: A boy, Thomas, wakes up in an elevator that opens into a glade with enormous stone walls where a bunch of different boys are living. This glade is in the middle of the maze, and the doors to the maze open every morning and close every night.

This book was so unsatisfying. About 100 pages in there was a really exciting moment that hooked me for about 20 pages and then fizzled out! I hated (HATED) the main kid. Obviously in these distopian novels, the main character is special in some way. But what makes those characters tolerable is that they don’t really know or believe that they are special. This kid knows it and he is insufferable.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Recommended! Here’s the gist: a girl living in a weird old house discovers a door that opens into a house a lot like hers but creepy. There’s her other-mother and other-father in the other-house with her other-neighbors, same but very different.

Neil Gaiman is definitely my favorite author, but satisfying endings are not necessarily his forte. This one definitely has a great ending though. I can’t believe this is for children, because it was very scary! All of the situations were very evocative and so strange. It was a fun, quick read and I can see how and why it was adapted into a graphic novel and a movie!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Allie has
completed her goal of reading 150 books in 2012!


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