After the miles long book post at the end of December, I decided to break up the Books I Read posts by week. It will make them more manageable, and I won’t forget what I wanted to write about the books quite so quickly. I hope.
This is what I read last week.
Creative Thursday: Everyday inspiration to grow your creative practice by Marisa Anne Cummings : This is an encouraging little book about how to incorporate more creativity into your life. There really wasn’t a lot new here for me (I’ve read my fair share of books on the subject) but the writing was conversational and welcoming. There’s a set of questions toward the end that is intended to help you explore your interests that I am intrigued by- not so much the questions themselves (they’re rather standard- favorite color, favorite food, etc) but by where Cummings takes them after that- asking you do delve deeper into the whys. Why do you like purple better than orange? What is it about kiwis that make them your favorite?
The October Country by Ray Bradbury : I love Ray Bradbury. The Illustrated Man was my favorite book for a very long time, and it’s because his writing is impeccable. His sentences are brilliant, every word serving a purpose. I was going to pick some favorite stories from this collection to pinpoint, but each story was just so good. The theme of the book is kind of eerie, kind of Halloween-y, and all of the stories have a slightly (or more than slightly) creepy feeling to them. My favorite passage from one of the creepier stories, titled Skeleton:
Why haven’t I realized it all these years? All these years I’ve gone around with a-SKELETON- inside me! How is it we take ourselves for granted? How is it we never question our bodies and our being?
Eleanor & Parkby Rainbow Rowell is a heartbreaker of a book. It just gets right down deep in there and then tears a big hole in you. Eleanor and Park are two high school students in the early 90s. Park is the only half-Korean kid in the Omaha school they attend, and Eleanor is the strangely dressed, red headed new girl that becomes the target of all the bullies in the school. They sit by each other on the bus when Park reluctantly takes pity on her, and come to get to know each other over comics and shared mixtapes. Park’s parents are skeptical about Eleanor, and Eleanor’s home life is so far from ok that it’s amazing that she’s surviving as well as she is. Of course they fall in love (as you do), but their relationship progresses in a way that feels natural, and Rowell doesn’t pull punches when it comes to hard questions, like whose reputation Park is fighting for when he defends Eleanor- does he not want her to be embarrassed, or is he embarrassed? There are some breathtaking moments, some heartbreaking moments, some utterly gorgeous moments- like this one, which comes after a ride on the bus when Eleanor tells him that she listened to the mixtape he gave her and loves the song “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division. She wanted to listen to the beginning of it over and over again, but she didn’t want to waste the batteries that he loaned her because she didn’t have any, and had no way to get more.
That night, Park made a tape with the Joy Division song on it, over and over again. He emptied all of his handheld video games and Josh’s remote control cars, and called his grandma to tell her that all he wanted for his birthday in November was AA batteries.
Doesn’t it break your heart?
I should warn that there is a fair amount of swearing. Just so’s you know. But there’s also gems like this, about reading Watchmen:
I’m beginning to think you shouldn’t have started reading comics with a book that completely deconstructs the last fifty years of the genre.
Truer words have never been spoken.
Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams is the follow up to Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and THIS is the book that I remember. It’s ridiculous and mad and barmy, and I highly suspect that Neil Gaiman was influenced by reading it in his youth to write American Gods. Dirk is investigating the murder (the police call it suicide but the man’s been rather gratuitously decapitated) of a would-have-been client (would have been if Dirk hadn’t slept in and missed their appointment). He’s also keeping an eye out for his ex-assistant who vanished in an apparent lightning strike at the airport. There are Norse gods involved, and a random Coke machine that keeps getting transported, and possibly a pact with the devil. It’s awesome. Favorite quote:
You would probably not say that he was sleeping the sleep of the just, unless you meant the just asleep, but it was certainly the sleep of someone who was not fooling about when he climbed into bed of a night and turned out the light.
The girls and I also finished Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which we all really liked. It’s the story of the childhood of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband Almanzo. So, Little House on the Prairie but with a boy main character, and on a wealthy New York farm. The girls were awed by the sheer amount of food in the book, and have been trying to eat bigger breakfasts because of it. They seem to have picked up a lot about farm life, and mention Almanzo quite often through the day. So I’d say it was a win. We started reading Odd and the Frost Giants tonight, and they’re really liking it so far. Anything with a fox in it is pretty much a go where they’re concerned.
I just started The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s set at Princeton at the turn of the century and there are curses and possibly vampires and ghosts. I hope there are actually vampires and ghosts and not just things that appear to be but then really aren’t. I’m always disappointed by that kind of book. Don’t promise me the supernatural if you’re not going to deliver, books!
What are you reading?