Oh my god, blog, it’s your birthday in that way where exactly one year ago TODAY I posted your very first post, which were some resolutions or whatever because you know, beginning of January. (For those who are interested, I would say I was mildly successful with resolutions 1, 2, 3, and 7, successful with 5, and not at all successful with 4 and 6.)
Anyway, I am not really into the idea of making resolutions this year so instead I’m going to tell you all about what I read last year, since this is a book blog and I’m curious. You can see the whole list of books I’ve read here. (By the way, I don’t know if you realize this, blog, but every book I read I post about. I’m behind on a few books right now, but I promise I will blog about all of them, and the list of books is up to date as of this moment. Also, just realized that I forgot about Legend so I added that to the list in roughly the area where I read it.)
TOTAL NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN 2011: 56
- Hardcover books read: 2
- Paperback books read: 9 (6 ARCs)
- Ebooks read: 45
I did not realize that I read so few books that are actually books and not ebooks. I did, however, just buy two books I’m super excited about reading and they are real books, and they are for adults of the grown variety, as opposed the the young one. Speaking of…
- Adult books read: 16
- YA books read: 34
- Middle grade books read: 6
(Fun fact: the vocabulary level of the middle grade books was much higher than that of the YA books.)
Also, you guys, I knew I was reading a lot of YA but holy hell is that way too high a percentage of YA books. More than 50% of the books I read this year were for young adults. I know I am kind of close to / in (according to some) that age range, but… that is ridiculous. Reading YA books in and of itself is not ridiculous, but they aren’t even the books I enjoy the most, so I should spend more time with books I love or am more likely to love.
What books did I enjoy the most, you ask? Here, I will give you my TOP THREE BOOKS READ IN 2011, although they are in NO ORDER OKAY? I can’t decide on which is best, which is why there are three.
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel
If you haven’t read the first two, do so immediately. I read them both as library ebooks and I am on the hunt for cheap copies at The Strand or another used book store to buy because they are so worth owning. The third you must read immediately after it comes out in February. I will hopefully have blogged about it by then.
I guess I will make a few resolutions, too, but in the way of books and this blog.
- More than 50% of books I read should be FOR ADULTS. Seriously.
- Read MORE than 56 books. 75, even? (Should be doable depending on my job situation. I just looked at my books again and while I was in college I read 9 books, whereas from the summer program in June to the end of December I read the other 47.)
- Blog AT LEAST 4 times a month, lazy. That is so easy, why am I not doing it yet?
- Blog about more movies / TV shows! I do those things, too, not just read books!
Okay, blog. We had an okay 2011 in terms of me blogging and reading, but we can do better this year, right?
(I couldn’t come up with a more ridiculous title, sorry. Next time, blog.)
So here’s some sad news blog: I have another internship (not sad news for me, just for you, blog) and I have no internet at home (T-Mobile figured out I was secretly tethering internet and wants to charge me boooo) so I don’t have a lot of time / opportunity to blog. Right now I’m sitting at Starbucks ostensibly researching travel so I can be a brilliant travel blogger, but actually as you might have noticed I’m blogging here. (I will still research travel. Don’t worry, other internship. It’s early afternoon, still.)
Anyway, I’m going to try to blog regularly, but it’s probably not going to happen. In the mean time I will be reading a million books, and some of them will probably be for grown ups. (I have 12 books to blog about including Wildwood and a whole FOUR of them are for grown ups. Can you believe that, blog?)
So here it is. I read Wildwood. And got some swag from B&N, too.
Author: Colin Meloy
Illustrator: Carson Ellis
Remember when I read the Wildwood excerpt before and loved it so much? Well, I went out to the Barnes & Noble at Union Square on the day Wildwood came out and bought it in hardcover. That’s love, you guys. I am really cheap and have no money. (Here’s a fun fact: the B&N didn’t have the book out yet and many of the employees were confused when we (Katie and I) asked for it, despite the part where they had promotional material (awesome buttons and artwork) for it. It took a while before I had a copy in my hands, but I did in fact get the book that day.)
Anyway I read it and I really liked the whole thing! The book has definite touches of Narnia, but with less Jesus-y themes (as in none) and hints of hipster instead. The vocabulary is, as usual with Meloy, way higher than your average vocabulary, especially for a middle grade book. This was, for the most part, really great, because more books should do that (esp. adult books), but (sorry Mr. Meloy) to be perfectly honest, it sometimes got a little bit tiring. The book is pretty long (560 pages, a veritable tome) and the writing style just gets wearying to the point where you can’t really sit and read huge long spans of it at once, even if you want to (and I did).
The plot itself is pretty great, although there are areas where it drags. I think what the book does best is creating a new world and the characters in it. So many great characters. Owl Rex! Septimus! Curtis! (I wish the books focused on Curtis instead of mostly on Prue, to be honest. I like Curtis better. Prue is kind of a B sometimes.)
But the best part about Wildwood is Carson Ellis’ illustrations. They kept me more into the book than even the words did, because they are just so great. I loved the full color illustration pages and I loved the chapter illustrations and I loved the black and white ones. They were just all great. I love Carson Ellis’ style. This book made me want to read other books she illustrated, just for her illustrations.
And, bonus, Katie and I went to see Carson and Colin at B&N’s Upstairs at the Square event series and they were really adorable and we got our books signed.
Despite the at times wearisome writing style (which actually I really like! it’s just difficult 560 pages straight), this book is really really excellent. I’m glad I have it in hardcover to read lots of times over. Beautiful illustrations, adorable characters, humorous and adventurous and worth your read. Go do it.
Maybe it’s the part where being a grown-up and looking for jobs and apartments is stressful, but I’ve been reading a lot of YA/children’s books lately. And they’re GREAT so don’t judge, two subscribers that I have. I read a book that the nice folks at Macmillan provided to the NYU SPI kids entitled The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
Author: Catherynne M. Valente, with illustrations by Ana Juan
What a lovely little book! I read the majority of it over a couple of days. The story follows September, who is taken into Fairyland one night as she’s doing the dishes. She must then navigate her way through, having promised different things to different characters along the way. It’s very Alice in Wonderland if Alice had gotten to make friends instead of everyone just kind of being a turd to her. It does not condescend in language or in plot, which is awesome in children’s books. ALSO it was originally a blog project, which is really cool. Basically it’s just a really great, fun read. I keep wanting to call it sweet, but the book also really has some dark moments. (Moments–they are never very long.)
If I could change anything, it’s that the plot at times seems to stagnate in weirdness after weirdness, instead of feeling as though it’s going anywhere. A lot of strange things happen in Fairyland, but it feels like September just isn’t getting anywhere because a new strangeness has to be explained. I liked all the magical elements, but there were times when the action suffered for it. Anyway, it’s a nice read and I would definitely recommend it. I’ll certainly hold onto it.
Also, I think Neil Gaiman’s cover blurb is pretty accurate: “A glorious balancing act between modernism and the Victorian fairy tale, done with heart and wisdom.”
“The Green Wind frowned into his brambly beard. ‘All little girls are terrible,’ he admitted finally, ‘but the Marquess, at least, has a very fine hat'” (3).
“All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. This is why it takes so long to grow one” (4).
“Those were all big words, to be sure, but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying” (51).
“Fairies started out as frogs. Amphibianderous, right? Well, being frogs was no kind of fun, so we went about and stole better bits–wings from dragonflies and faces from people and hearts from birds and horns from various goats and antelope-ish things and souls from ifrits and tails from cows–and we evolved over a million million minutes, just like you” (70).
“That’s what a map is, you know. Just a memory. Just a wish to go back home–someday, somehow” (169).
“September waited. She long ago learned that if she waited and blinked and behaved like a pupil, eventually someone would lecture her on something” (186).
“Breaking things heals a great many hurts. This is why children do it so often” (203).
Read it! 4 stars!