I discovered The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (back when it was called the Southern Vampire Mysteries and before it was HBO’s True Blood) entirely on accident. I picked up the paperback on a whim while standing in line to buy Anna Karenina at The Dusty Bookshelf. The title caught my eye, and though I thought the cover art was a bit silly, the blurb on the back sounded fun and I thought it might balance out the serious and sad classic of Russian lit I’d already selected. Read More..
My best friend runs marathons. For fun. On the weekends. This requires lots of training, registration fees, and travel. I’ve always been kind of baffled by this choice of pastime. When I asked her why she decided to adopt this hobby, she explained that the endurance required to reach the finish line made her feel proud of her achievement. She ran just to prove to herself she could do it.
I still didn’t quite understand how she could get such joy from such an endeavor until I decided to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Weighing in at 3.2 pounds and 1079 pages, it’s the reader’s equivalent of running a marathon. After successfully completing the novel and actually enjoying it, I thought I’d share some tips for reading this intimidating yet rewarding book.
Mix one part teen angst, one part black humor, and one part witty prose, and you’ll get The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand.
For reasons never explained, Adam Strand has been unable to kill himself, and not for lack of trying. No matter what method he utilizes, he always wakes up hours later, alive and well. His friends, family, and the whole town know of his condition, and mostly just seem annoyed. But this book isn’t really about suicide: it’s about family and friendship and finding the will to live while recognizing the inevitability of death. Read More..
I’ve been nervous to read Ruta Septys’ debut novel, Between Shades of Gray because I knew a novel about the Holocaust would be an emotionally draining reading experience. When her second novel, Out of the Easy, was released, I thought a whodunnit murder mystery set in 1950s Louisiana would be a good introduction to her work. It proved to be a rich historical novel with a complex plot and a compelling protagonist. Read More..
I have never been a fan of audiobooks. This is perhaps because my first experience was listening to The Scarlet Letter during 11th grade English class, which at 16, I found unbearably boring (no offense to its fans). But I am constantly jealous of all the reading people get done while simultaneously completing other tasks. I can see how commuters fall in love with audiobooks, but since I live less than a mile from the library and rarely drive, listening to books in the car wasn’t going to work for me. I needed another way to work audiobooks into my reading routine. Read More..
It’s 1999 and Lincoln hasn’t had a girlfriend in a decade, still lives with his mother, and has just taken a job at a newspaper where his main task is to read company emails that are caught in the network filter and flagged as inappropriate. Though he is supposed to reprimand those who are using work email for personal correspondence, he doesn’t ever notify Beth, the movie reviewer, or her best friend Jennifer, the copy editor, of their violations — because he likes them. Read More..
Known for his never-ending sentences and lack of paragraph breaks and quotation marks, José Saramago can be an intimidating author, but the philosophical richness and dry wit of his prose are worth the laborious process of reading it. His works range from historical to speculative, yet most contain elements of magical realism. With an affinity for the ironic, Saramago writes allegorical stories that explore questions of life and death and human nature. Read More..
I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite authors speak at YALSA’s Young Adult Literature Symposium this past weekend. Scott Westerfeld, who is most famous for his popular Uglies series, has also written a fantastic series for young adults that blurs genres. It is at once steampunk, science fiction, historical, and speculative fiction. Read More..
Adolescence should come with an instruction guide. Years after suffering through it and just as the scars were finally beginning to heal, I’ve found it: British columnist Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman. Luckily, it not only contains helpful sections on the first signs of womanhood (pesky things like menstruation and hair in new places), but continues to offer reflections that are useful through adulthood, such as thoughts on first encounters with sexism, an easy test to see if you are a feminist, ways to deal with fashion dilemmas, and sections on falling in love and getting married. There’s a chapter where she dissects any argument that strip clubs as empowering for women with her razor sharp wit and even a section on why you should—and why you shouldn’t—have children. Read More..
When I was a child, I was absolutely fascinated with my shadow. I’d periodically check to see if it was still following me and sometimes wondered if it ran off to make mischief the way Peter Pan’s does. If I was as clever as Marie Rutkoski, I’d have turned that into an idea for a story. Read More..