I love to read books. Literature is probably my favorite art form to both enjoy and create, and as such I'm always consuming new books both in print and in audio form. You can find a comprehensive list of the books I've read, the books I'm reading, and the books I want to read on Goodreads. I am, however, also putting up a list of the books I'm reading through as well as my thoughts on them so far on this page, for your convenience.
2018 Book Listing
- His Majesty's Dragon (Naomi Novik): Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon is an engaging, intelligent novel, and well-suited for the higher age-ranges of the “young adult” market. Though some of its language and themes make it less desirable for readers more towards middle-grade than young adult, it is nevertheless a valuable book for a young adult in several ways: Its intelligence and creativity, its easy and natural discussion of difficult subjects, and its eye towards strong character development throughout the book.
- Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson): This book was phenomenal. So focused and hauntingly beautiful. Succinct yet poetic in every sentence, saying so many things with such little word count. I was blown away by the story of Melinda, and her journey in learning to speak again. It was heart-wrenching and hopeful, and made we want to be stronger.
- The Only Harmless Great Thing (Brooke Bolander): Hauntingly beautiful, poetic, and sad in all the right ways. Fantastic characters and storytelling? Awesome. Poetic beauty that seems to somehow transcend language at times? Even better. Uplifted elephants? Sign me up.
- Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell): This book had such a wonderful, sweet, and oddball romance. Eleanor & Park 4 Life.
- RWBY (Shirow Miwa): This manga was the first volume of a future manga adaptation of the RWBY series. It was a fun romp with the characters from RWBY, going back to the good old days of Season 1. I needed just a little bit more time with these characters, and this manga provided it for me. Thanks Shirow Miwa.
- Art for God's Sake (Philip Graham Ryken): A fantastic, short read on a theology of art. There are a few things that I feel like are oversimplifications in the text, but the meat of the book is solid.
- Marcelo in the Real World (Francisco X. Stork): I really enjoyed this book--getting to know Marcelo's character and see the world through his eyes, seeing his relationship with Jasmine evolve throughout the story, and watching Marcelo evolve himself into someone who could handle the "real world." Also, I've adopted Marcelo. He's my child now. That is all.
- The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman): There were definitely a lot of interesting worldbuilding bits in here, and the plot was solid, even if the atheistic agenda of the author was rather unsubtle.
- Looking for Alaska (John Green): This book. I liked this book. I felt emotions at this book. Unfortunately, there were a lot of unnecessary gross things in this book that made it hard to get through. Though it's thoughts on death and the loss of friends are poignant and admirable, it's not a book I would ever recommend to its target audience. Also, the ending left just a bit to be desired. Maybe I just saw it coming too soon, but it fell a little flat for me.
- Universal Harvester (John Darnielle): I really enjoyed Universal Harvester. It didn’t take me too long to get into the story, and the initial descriptions of the tapes were haunting and disturbing in all the right ways. I loved the slow build in tension and horror throughout the first half of the novel, and the subtle teasing the narrative does in hinting at the horrible things to come. My favorite moments include when the narrator talks about that “in some versions of this story…” and then has alternate ideas or conjectures about the lives of the people they are writing about. The weird semi-omniscient unreliable narrator is one of my favorite things about this book. I was very interested in finding out the answer to the question of who were the people one the tapes, and who recorded them, as the tension kept building. This book ended up being something very different from what I expected it to be. And where some people would be disappointed by that, I think I really enjoyed it because of that. Instead of degenerating into some cheap horror slasher, we went deeper into the concepts of loss, grief, and purpose and experienced more of the existential horror surrounding those abstracts. I really, really enjoyed that about the book. It began as a story about a small Midwestern American town, and it ended that way as well. It was about the people in the town, the dread of finding a meaning in life, the abject loneliness of loss and grieving a loved one. And I really liked it. One of my favorite parts was the section on the parents of Lisa Sample. The simple beauty and the slow descent into inevitable madness in that section was hauntingly beautiful to read. I loved the reveal at the end, and found myself restructuring everything that had happened previously to fit the new narrative I had discovered. Universal Harvester was a delightful, spooky, and existential read, and I recommend it highly. Darnielle is a beautiful writer, and there are moments of such poetic prose in the book that it makes you just sit back and think about the same phrase over and over again.
- The Book Thief (Markus Zusak): I really liked a lot of the things this book did. Its focus on the power of language and books is powerful, and its horrific depictions of life in Nazi Germany are equally so. I loved that Death was the narrator, and though I did have some problems with the novel dragging a bit and some of the content, I do recommend it.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky): I want to love this book. I really do. It has great characters, plot, and themes. Unfortunately, it's also trash. There is just so much juuuunnkk in this book and I couldn't stand reading it sometimes, but this being a book I read for school, I plunged onward. I feel like YA authors put crap like this into books just so they can feel edgy and self-righteous when their book is banned from school libraries.
- Ready Player One (Ernest Cline): I could write a whole dissertation on why this isn't a very good book. Not only is the plot almost completely devoid of any try-fail cycles or any sense of tension, the main character is the ultimate exemplification of a wish-fulfillment character. The setting was also much to be desired. While I enjoyed some of the worldbuilding surrounding the video gaming culture itself, the whole thing just really falls flat. Unless you have as an intensely specific knowledge of 80's pop culture as the main character (and the author), pass on this book.
- Stone Animals (Kelly Link): So, I wasn’t entirely into the ending of this piece, but the rest of it I adored in a sickly fascinated way. It’s just so wonderfully weird. Full of strangeness and descending into madness. I enjoyed the story much more than I expected to, given the slow beginning. My favorite moments of the story was the continued descent into madness that happened every time a new thing became haunted. Especially when their son became haunted later in the story, it was just so creepily satisfying, narratively. My question is “what happens next???” I really want to know more about the weird surrealistic magic of the setting and what the meaning of it all was, but I feel like I understand why the author ended it the way they did. It was wonderfully surreal, if a little sad to me, to see it ending there.
- Lying (Lauren Slater): This was definitely an interesting read. There is a lot of metaphor to follow, but I got a general sense of the ideas the author was trying to convey, so I think I followed it pretty well. I really enjoyed the sad and haunting relationship that the author and her mother work through in the first half of the memoir. The mother is very well-characterized—Slater’s descriptions give us a very good idea of who her mother was like, despite whether or not metaphor is being used to exaggerate even her persona. In the end, I didn’t like this book quite as much as I thought I would originally. The metaphor bobbed and weaved in some unsatisfying directions, and the answers we got towards the end of the novel only served to further confuse me and bewilder any sense of narrative cohesion the memoir had in my mind. The postmodernism at play in this book reminds me far too much of Marcus for me to say I “liked it” at the end of the day. One arc of the memoir that gave me an incredible sadness was the author’s love affair with the writer “Christopher.” It made me really depressed and anxious to see a young woman so blatantly be used sexually by an older man. It was obvious that the woman in that situation was desperately seeking human contact, but in all the wrong ways, and it saddened me to see the mental trauma from that and many of the other directions the memoir took her story. A question I have getting to the end of the memoir is the obvious one: “What is the truth here?” It seems to me like Lauren Slater still probably needs some serious mental support, and I hope that she’s gotten it, and that Lying hasn’t been her only way to reach out for help for the obvious trauma she must have gone through as a young person.
- Feed (M.T. Anderson): I would have given this book two stars, I disliked it that much, until I saw the plot twist. The plotting was just good enough to bump it up by one star. Problem is, this book is just propaganda.
- The Age of Wire and String (Ben Marcus): This book confused me. So, so very much. And that's just about all I have to say about it.