Books 7/29/04

I read Dear Genius: The letters of Ursula Nordstrom, and it sent me on a kids book spree. Nordstrom was the children’s book editor at Harpers for years and years, and was instrumental in changing the direction of children’s books. Her letters are charming and eloquent, and offer an interesting view into the process of being an editor. She edited many of the great authors and artists, including Maurice Sendak. EB White, and Shel Silverstein. Her letters to Sendak are my favorites. She also edited Louise Fitzhugh who wrote Harriet the Spy. I read Harriet when I was little, and bought it about 4 months ago to reread it and then never did. So after I finished Dear Genuis, it was on to Harriet the Spy.
The first paragraphs of Harriet blew me away, because I could remember vividly my thoughts when I first read them. Harriet is playing by the roots of an huge tree, and I remember thinking that it was just like the one I played by at school. That would put my reading it the first time at about 2nd or 3rd grade- I would have been six or seven. That explains a lot to me about why I never reread it- I hated the end of it passionately, and reading it again this time, I kind of agree with my six year old self. I love Harriet and her honesty. She’s a little confused girl with little to no parental guidance, who is just trying to figure out the world around her. Ultimately she gets caught and punished for thinking the same things that all her friends are thinking, and thats what I hated and still kind of hate.
The spree continued with Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Wayside School gets at little Stranger, both by Louis Sachar. I love these books, they’re silly and witty and make me laugh. Those were followed by volumes 6-9 of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, a series that I’m enjoying more and more the farther I get into them. A deeper conspiracy is starting to unfold, and a mystery that I can’t wait to discover the answer to.
I diverged from the kid lit kick for a day and read Daughters of Memory by Janis Arnold, a book sent to me by booksfree that I didn’t remember ordering, but I’m very glad that I did. It’s the story of two sisters, told from each one’s point of view in alternating chapters. On the surface it’s the story of what abuse does to people; it’s also a look at truth and perception. The two sisters, Claire and Macy, have distinctly different versions of the same events, but you come away with the certainty that both accounts are true. It’s an interesting addition into my pondering on the difference between the search for reality and the search for truth. While it was painful to read I couldn’t put it down, the writing is excellent and the characters true and sadly consistent.
After that I had to read something lighter, so I reluctantly jumped into A Series of Unfortunate Events Vol 9. I say reluctantly because I only own up to vol 9, and the series so far is only up to vol 10, so very soon I’m going to be caught up. That saddens me.

Current total: 76
Just Finished: A Series of Unfortunate Events Vol 9 by Lemony Snicket
Reading Now: Fast Talking Dames by Maria Di Battista

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