Here we go again. Due to my overwhelming need to keep an archive and maybe due to some resolve of the laziness previously shown here, I’m back. I still read a ton in 2013 but it would have been nice to have the record. If anyone continued to follow this blog after I said I would keep writing then didn’t then bless your heart. I can only assume that my one post about the Maya Angelou Prank Show is what kept you entertained for the year. If you fall into that category, don’t worry. I just re-watched it and it is indeed still hilarious. The good news is that not only will I now continue to write about the books that have meant something to me, I’ll also probably continue to be grumpy about the stuff everyone seems to love. It’s a real treat over here in the internet and I’m glad to be back. Let’s get started with some poor quality phone photos of my new electronic reading device!
#1: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt - Is it too early to have a favorite book of the year? I make the rules here and I say it’s never to early. Wolves is about a 14 year old who discovers some family secrets in the midst of New York in the 1980’s. I love, love, loved this one because it showed the complications of adolescence without cliche. It was able to construct a story about family that acknowledges how hard it can be to see one another through the lens of assumption. I don’t want to tell you too much other that if you are like me and sometimes have all the feelings at once, this one will hit you hard.
#2: Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois - Readers, be careful with your second book of the year. Don’t make my mistake and think “Oh yeah, after the feelings I’ll just read something cool.” Nope. Cartwheel is touted as the next Gone Girl which should have been my first clue that I wouldn’t like it. Y’all, this book is the EXACT story of Amanda Knox just with different character names and takes place in Argentina. There isn’t suspense if you already know what happens! Get out of here, Cartwheel.
#3: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman - And then I got to this? I didn’t know very much about the book except that it had a pleasant cover but my goodness what a load of barf. I realize “load of barf” isn’t a kind thing to say about a novel one worked hard on, it is just the one phrase that kept coming to me the entire time I read it. Sure one could say the sentences were clever but I’m team Jennifer Weiner on this one in that I’m at a point where I just want to read a book with at least one likeable character. Simply, I like to root for someone. No one in this story showed the depth that could have made it better. And can Brooklyn writers please stop writing about the Brooklyn literary scene? There are so many better ways to use the imagination.
#4: The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne - Speaking of imagination, I’m torn here because while the protagonist is an eleven year old, floppy haired, pop star based on someone we love to hate, it does make the reader wonder if we are all just as vapid as the celebrities we follow. I had a hard time getting through the book but also hate to admit that I’ve thought of it often since. Contradictions everywhere! What I’m even more interested in today is Teddy Wayne’s profile of Taylor Kitsch. Texas forever.
#5: If I Stay by Gayle Forman - So much teenage angst going with this one. Basically what we have here is a YA novel that takes the dramatic phrase "I might as well just DIE!!" to a whole new level. A young girl is in a car accident and has to decide in her comatose state whether or not she should will herself to live for her boyfriend, friend, and her cello. Although it used the usual plot techniques I fell for them all with tears in the end. Take a break from your fancy books and go back to the feelings for a bit.
#6: In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe - I’m know I’m late to the party here. I understand people have OPINIONS about Katie Roiphe’s essays. I’ll simply state that I very much enjoyed her thoughts on books, feminism, and motherhood. Sure I didn’t agree with everything but that’s not the point. The point is that I kept thinking I wanted more books where women visibly work through and coherently articulate their reaction to the world around them. Take a look at Jess McCabe’s interview at the Toast for a better explanation of my reaction. Or just google Katie Roiphe because it will probably lead you to an evening of more questions than answers.
There you have it, friends. Send me your recommendations, your disagreements, and all the other good stuff that comes from your world. Let’s talk books.