Good day, my fellow bloggers!
I am still breathing, and it so follows that I am still reading books. Though this sometimes proves more difficult than I would like to to be, due to school and shows and concerts and the general mayhem that is life.
In the first three months of 2019 (so obviously not counting April because in my mind April hasn’t really started yet…even though it’s practically half gone) I have read approximately ten books of my own accord. I say ‘approximately’ because there were some books that I started in 2018 which bled over into 2019, and other such sticky matters as that- but I digress.
Most of the book bloggers that I follow have read three or four times as much by now. But I am (sort of) content to move at my turtle’s pace. And I’m not a book blogger anyway.
Let’s talk about what I have read. The shocking thing about it is that three out of eleven of these are non-fiction, which for me is an unusually high ratio.
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
First off, I am a huge fan of The Book Thief, and I definitely had some anticipation when it came to Bridge of Clay.
Honestly it was kind of hard to get through. I liked the format of the book, with the parallel stories of the sons and the parents at different times of their lives, but the story itself was not very interesting to me. It is a pretty thick book, and not enough happened to keep me interested.
I liked how the brothers were so close, and how emotional they were at the end. I have a soft spot for siblings.
But there were some troubling things for me. A few troubling themes, and just content that I don’t want to read about.
Also the abstract writing style, which worked very well in The Book Thief, felt like too much, and it disconnected me more than it drew me in. Maybe I have just gotten worse at paying attention, but sometimes it hurt my brain to figure out what was actually happening.
Overall, I wouldn’t have minded skipping this one.
Not As We Know It by Tom Avery
This book is a short read (especially coming after Bridge of Clay). It is full of charm, sadness, and Stark Trek references.
It is about twin brothers, whose names escape me, who are very close and live by the sea. It melds reality with the fantastical when they bring home a strange sea creature and hide it in their garage. The creature is more sinister than comical, and it managed to make me nervous from the minute it appeared. I’m not paranoid or anything.
This book is sweet and sad, but that is all. It didn’t pierce my heart or crush my soul. It was just what it was, and that was okay. But just okay. Not brilliant.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I watched the movie before reading the book, which is a travesty, I know. But I liked pretty much the same things about the book as I liked about the movie. The movie was a very good adaption.
I like that several different characters get to tell the story from their own perspectives, but one thing that I would criticize is that the voices did not feel distinct enough. The characters themselves were distinct and dynamic, but their voices tended to blend into each other, if that makes sense. It’s a smallish thing, but there it is.
Overall, it’s quite a good book and I would recommend it. As well as the movie.
Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
The concept of this book is about as far as it goes for me. I like the idea of portraying real people struggling with the burden of homelessness, I like brother-sister relationships, and I like the idea of a child clinging to a paper world when her reality is so unstable.
However, the execution of these concepts fell flat for me. Much of the storytelling felt contrived, especially concerning the woman who used to be the children’s guardian. The scenes that were supposed to be emotional generally fell flat. Some of the dialogue was good, but a lot of it felt a bit painful. As I said, a lot of it just felt contrived and stilted.
Fantastic concept, though.
Am I getting “too old” for Middle Grade books? What is this nonsense?
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
World War II. Obviously things are going to be tragic.
You know those books where horrible things are happening but the main character is just a little slow on the uptake? This is one of those books.
The story depicts Warsaw under German occupation, the Jews getting exiled to the ghetto, and eventually deported, all from the perspective of a street boy who never quite seems to realize what is happening and sees the world in his own unique way.
The story is naturally somewhat depressing, but there is hope, which I appreciate.
I am a huge fan of one of Jerry Spinelli’s other books, Maniac Magee, and I like his understated, almost sparse writing style. He is able to say so much without being heavy-handed with his words.
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by Eugene Yelchin and M.T. Anderson
This book was unique and quirky, which I liked a lot.
It centres around the political tension between the elves and the goblins, two peoples who have never quite seen eye to eye. Their cultures are starkly different, and both colorfully described.
The book is told through a combination of words and drawings, which complimented the story admirably.
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Very short and sweet, this book is characteristic of Kate DiCamillo. Though, it is perhaps my least favorite of her books. That being said, it was still wonderful. I have yet to read a book by her that I do not love to some extent.
It is a follow up to Raymie Nightingale, though not strictly a sequel. One thing that sort of bugs me about it is that it doesn’t seem like something she was planning at all when she wrote Raymie Nightingale, and there are a few minor discrepancies between them.
But I love Louisiana (both in Raymie Nightingale and this one) and Kate DiCamillo’s writing style never fails to fill my soul with happiness.
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
This book made me think. Quite a lot. And I love that.
And it’s an autobiography! NON-FICTION. That doesn’t happen very often to me, frankly. I am impressed with myself.
And I actually found it super interesting! The author describes how he met his wife and basically shares their journey together until her early death from cancer. They both loved to think deeply about things and some of the concepts addressed in the book are fascinating.
He describes their intellectual (he was a college professor) and spiritual (they became Christians) transformation throughout their relationship. And they knew C.S. Lewis personally, which is kind of cool.
And it’s really kind of a romance? Which makes it doubly bizarre that I enjoyed it because it’s non-fiction and romance. Who even am I.
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
I discovered the existence of this book through the blogger Grace @ True and Pure, who posted a mini review of it ages ago. She likened it unto The Mysterious Benedict Society, so I was interested at once.
It’s sort of a mystery, and a Christmas book, so I read it at the wrong time of year. I can be a rebel like that sometimes.
It’s set on a mountain where there is a remote inn called Greenglass House. Smugglers like to hang out there, but the husband and wife who own the inn are chill about that. Their son, Milo, is the main character.
The inn ends up being populated by a strange and unexpected group of guests during the winter holidays, when it is usually empty. They all seem to be there for random, disconnected reasons…BUT ARE THEY? (I just had a Quibbler moment, guys.)
This book was charming, but I would deem it to be a lesser cousin of The Mysterious Benedict Society. Or maybe I have just grown more picky in my old age.
The characters were fun but not terribly memorable. The plot had some interesting turns, and some that just didn’t work. Also the bad guy was unnecessarily malicious and evil? That didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the book.
A fun read, but yeah, I won’t remember it AT ALL this time next month. Probably.
Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter
(I am pretty sure this is the same book that I read, though mine was called Tolkien, not J.R.R. Tolkien. The author is the same and unless he wrote two different books with almost the same title it’s the same one.)
Shocking, another non-fiction book. So yes, I read this book because I saw that they are making a Tolkien movie and I wanted to be informed about his life so that I could be sufficiently displeased by the movie when it comes out. Even though I want to like the movie. Yeah…good plan.
Since The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books of All Time, I found it interesting to find out a bit about the man who wrote it. But honestly I found the first half of the book the most interesting. The growing up bit. The rest of it was interesting as well, but less so.
Miracles by C.S. Lewis
This book took me….many months to read. For some reason I found it harder to get through than Mere Christianity. The concepts are extremely fascinating, but my brain has been hurting a lot from school, and when I get home I would rather watch a movie or read something fun than delve into thick philosophical content. I like thinking about philosophy and theology and the like, but in small doses.
I don’t really know what else to say. It was good. But there is so much there that you can spend an hour mulling over a single paragraph. Amazing, but not something you necessarily plow through in a couple of days.
Well, there you have it! Are you impressed by how much non-fiction I consumed? Because I am.
Up next: The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (reread) and The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews
The Perilous Gard is one of my favorites, and I am so excited to read The Boy Who Steals Houses! I am hoping that more heart-wrenching books are coming to me in my near future.
What books have you been devouring recently? Have you found any new favorites? Are you revisiting old friends? Have you read any of the books I mentioned or have any plans to read any of them? Tell me of all the books in your lives!