August-October 2009 books

yellow leaves

Oh hello. I’ve still kept a list of books I’ve read. It’s just that motivation takes a very long vacation around the halfway mark. In the meantime I’ve acquired a taste for YA fiction and Diana Wynne Jones, not necessarily in that order. If you read Diana Wynne Jones (of Howl’s Moving Castle fame– trust me when I say the novel is much, MUCH better than the movie), please do not be discouraged by the covers of her books. They are not really very accurate of the tone of her novels (she’s mostly fantasy, but of a fun and amusing kind, not the eyerolling- cliche-plotholes kind. and sometimes the books she writes are parodies of the genre itself).

Books Read:
73. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, Tiffany Baker (fun read. a bit of letdown near the end, i think.)

74. Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman * (finally finished this collection of amusing essays about, what else, books.)

75. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Kate Dimillo (YA- this sounded a LOT like the velveteen rabbit. it also had extremely strong Christian overtones that I was not overly fond of, but then again, I’m a pretty cynical reader who got subjected to velveteen rabbit ad nauseam at bible studies.)

76. House of Many Ways, Diana Wynne Jones * (YA- love, LOVE this book. it’s got a dog and magic spells for conjuring a meal out of thin air. among other endearing situations only DWJ would think of.)

77. Tide, Feather, Snow, Miranda Weiss * (started out beautifully, has a lot of vocabulary words (mostly describing nature of Alaska), but got a little depressing near the end. )

78. Castle In the Air, Diana Wynne Jones * ( YA- really entertaining and feel-good.and has a very cute kitten named Whippersnaper)

79. Odd and the Frost Giants, Neil Gaiman * (YA- fun, short story about a boy who outwits the giants.)

80. Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli * (GN- I really liked this, though I must admit I skimmed the art/architectual/visual explanations.)

81. Hunter (Richard Stark’s Hunter), Darwyn Cooke * (GN- really well done graphic novelization of Richard Stark’s hard-boiled? ham-handed? highly unnecessary but also highly effective cold, ruthless violence? novels.)

82. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 1, Diana Wynne Jones * (YA- first volume in Chrestomanci series, includes Charmed Life and Lives of Christopher Chant, and you will understand why cats say “Wong!”)

83. A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick * (Wonderful flow and gripping story.)

84. F-stop, Anthony Johnson and Matthew Loux (GN- older graphic novel, kinda okay, amusing to read.)

85. The Eternal Sunshine, Gene Yuen Lang and Derek Dirk Kim (GN- fun three short stories to read)

86. (partially finished, had to return to library) Don’t Cry, Mary Gaitskill (some of the stories were over my head. some of them were quite good. take your pick!)

87. Prayers for Sale, Sandra Dallas (fun read, quilt-bee type of story)

88. Graceling, Kristin Cashore * (YA- love LOVE this book. I call it the anti-twilight. and no vampires. and oh yes, there’s sex, but it’s not gratuitous or hinted at in 2000 different annoying ways. It’s a cross between Buffy (in terms of strong female roles) and a myth-fantasy genre.)

89. Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larsson * (good. intense. make sure you have a free weekend to read this, because you will not put it down.)

90. The Diary of a Part time Indian, Sherman Alexie * (YA-really great YA- about identity and finding yourself, on an Indian reservations. Also made me giggle b/c of the illustrations)

91. Alex and Me, Irene Pepperberg * (touching story of a parrot who literally changed the word birdbrain. also, wonderful human-animal interaction)

92. Fire, Kristin Cashore * (YA- prequel to Graceling, can stand alone on its own. A darker story of Fire (still a strong heroine, though not necessarily strong in the most stereotypical way). Lovely complicated situations (no, really, it’s done very well)..)

93. Catherine, Called Birdy, Karen Cushman * (YA- Corpus bones, this is a really great book. seriously. Also, any book with a curse called “God’s Thumbs” gets my vote.)

94. The Entomological Adventures of Augustus T. Percival: Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone, Dene Low (YA- this almost got a star except for the ending, which fell rather flat. It’s not that ending itself was bad, it was fine, it’s just that it was rather abrupt, stylistically.)

95. (Re-read) The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman * (YA- It’s one of these books that get better the more you read it- the story is familiar but you pick up the more amusing nuances. Absolutely perfect October book.)

96. The White Queen, Philippa Gregory (grown-up historical fiction to make up for all the YA historical fiction I’m about to read. Story of Henry VIII’s grandmother, whose sons mysteriously disappeared while in the Tower. )

97. The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Marie Pope * (YA – wonderful, wonderful book about a legend. Also the perfect Halloween book. The ending is one of the most perfect I’ve read.)

98. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. II, Diana Wynne Jones * (YA- the first is a spoof off Romeo and Juliet, involving white and black cats, the second is about witch week, which i think is pretty self-explanatory)

99. Ballistics, Billy Collins (good, makes me want to look up his earlier works)

Currently Reading:

About Grace, Anthony Doerr
The Serial Garden, Joan Aiken (so much fun!)

Bought Recently:
-an embarassing amount of used books at Wonder books (great used bookstore in Fredericksburg, MD. really wonderful selection of old, seconds, and used.) Most were older works by Diana Wynne Jones (her works are hard to find because they are primarily sold in UK).
-Persephone books: Someone at A Distance, Dorothy Whipple; Mariana, Monica Dickens; Good Evening. Mrs. Cravens, Molly Panter-Downes
-Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, Billy Collins and David Sibley

Whew. That should teach me to delay blogging for so long.

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2 Responses to August-October 2009 books

  1. marthasnail says:

    i love hearing what you’ve read. i read catherine called birdy a long time ago and liked it. i liked tide, feather, snow for the most part. am now reading cheerful money which is great.

  2. oh i loved ex libris. and you’re right about the stieg larsson books: do NOT start reading them when you have other things you need to be doing! you’ll lose all track of time. i’m a big billy collins fan as well. he’s so lyrical about matter of fact things.

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