Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Books: Year in Review (Part 2)

I know you've been waiting with bated breath, O Imaginary Reader of Mine! So here we go, the rest of my top ten books read while I was 25!
The Bitch in the House, edited by Cathi Hanauer. This book is a compilation of essays written by women about marriage (or choosing not to marry), children (or electing not to have them), relationships (or being alone). It's about being capable, calm and friendly at work, and then going home and feeling like all you do is nag. It's about making an open marriage work. It's about making choices and living with them. Anyone who reads this will relate to some of the essays, and have your mind opened by others. I want to give this book to all my women friends and make them talk about it with me.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart. Oh man, now this book I want to give to all the teenage girls in my life. Or I would, if I had any...When I started the book, I was a little worried. I mean, how many books are there with a female protagonist who gets hot over the course of a summer? But Frankie won me over in no time. Sure, she blossomed or whatever, and sure, it gets her noticed by the hottest guy in school when she goes back in the fall. But this girl is a feminist. She is her own person, and that person is a believable teenage girl. She can be giddy and flirty and overwhelmed by her crush, and still recognize that he and his guy friends don't treat her like an equal: they treat her like a girl. Just a girl. And she uses her considerable creativity and intelligence to prove herself worthy of their full respect. She makes mistakes and actually pays for them. I unreservedly love this book. I bet you would too.
Locke and Key: Volumes I-IV, by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. I fell in love with Joe Hill's writing with his book of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts. I'm not usually a big short story fan, but his caught my attention. I also loved his novel Heart-Shaped Box. I was lucky enough to hear him speak at a local library a few months ago. He was completely endearing and down to earth. He answered the inevitable questions about his father, Stephen King, with good humor. This was the first time I really heard about Locke and Key, his series of comics. Series of graphic novels? I'm not sure how to differentiate, I'm ashamed to say! But no matter; the concept intrigued me: a house full of keys that each had a different power. One opens your head up--you can put information in or take memories out. One turns you into a ghost. One takes you anywhere...and on and on. This series is phenomenal, dark and funny and moving, and illustrated incredibly. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. This book has so much that I love: creepy old, abandoned house; creepy old photos; creepy children; creepy mystery...the unexpected cliffhanger, not so much, but I'm definitely excited for the next installment!
Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray. I wouldn't have thought a book about a kid dying could be so funny. I loved the relationship between all the boys. Their dialogue was often hilarious and felt very true to me.

Honorable mentions:

  • The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai. On religious intolerance, the love of reading, and road trips.

  • Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray. Celebrating female friendships and girl power with humor. Hurrah!

  • Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. Best. Twists. EVER.

Here's to another year of great books!

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