Thursday, August 20, 2009

Busy week

I might just be the last librarian in Illinois to read The Time Traveler's Wife, but oh well. I am so happy that I did. Before I gush (and oh how I'll gush), let me explain the kind of week I was having before I decided to embrace this beautiful book.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
What can I say? I couldn't get through it. I couldn't force myself to like it, as hard as I tried. I couldn't love all the wonderful things that so many others have loved about it. I was bored. And I have read a few too many Holocaust books. Wasn't there an article in School Library Journal or maybe VOYA about the over-abundance of Holocaust novels? Yes, well, I agree. And even though I do enjoy Zusak as a writer, I could not get into The Book Thief. And that's after 250 pages!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
Oh, what is it with me and award winners? Why can't we get along? Am I the only one who didn't like this book too? I feel ashamed to wear my librarian hat when I say this, but this book bored me too. The style reminded me of something like Heidi or Anne of Green Gables (both favorites of mine), except with a boy character I felt I hardly got to know. And when all the Jacks showed up! Goodness me, I groaned out loud and slammed the book shut. This book gave me a headache to read, but I'm just going to chalk it up to personal preference because it's not as if it was poorly written. Just not my cup of tea.

So, after these two back-to-back awful reading experiences, I was in need of a little pick-me-up. I read the first 20 pages of The Time Traveler's Wife, got weepy, and immediately decided that it was my current favorite book. The next day I read the remaining 520 pages (after a full day at school mind you!) and was so incredibly grateful and pleased and emotional. First of all, a librarian living in 90s Chicago who time travels and falls in love with a beautiful artist who loves him back unconditionally? Um, Ms. Niffenegger, did you happen to write this book for me? Thank you! I loved touring Chicago with Henry and Clare - I've been to just about all of those places too! It's nice to be able to relate, at least in terms of setting, especially since not that many books that I read are set in Chicago. Okay, but it was so much more than the fact that Henry's a librarian somewhat like me and he lives in Chicago at the time that I did too (all happy coincidences) - he's not the ideal husband, I must say, but he's a real guy. Well, minus the time traveling thing. He's broken with too many vices and a generally screwed-up life, but he finds a way to make it work. And Clare! Oh, sweet Clare. Sometimes I wonder if Clare would have loved Henry had he not visited her when she was a child, but ultimately, I think that she would have. It was just a cheating way of seeing the potential in someone. Anyhow, I love love loved this book but can't read it again anytime soon because I cried my eyes out and spent the whole day reading it. I saw the movie the next day, and while it was nice, it couldn't possibly show enough of the story to give it real depth.

Oh, by the way, I started student teaching at a middle school library this week, and tomorrow I will be booktalking the following books:

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
Boy by Roald Dahl
Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
Behind the Curtain by Peter Abrahams (maybe - I might switch this one out)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale

How exciting!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


After spending a mostly responsibility-free week in sunny Orange Beach, AL without ANY internet interactions (okay, I renewed a book and used Google Maps, but those don't really count), I'm wondering where August came from and why it's passing by so quickly. I start student teaching on Monday, and while I'm excited about the experience, I'm surprised that it's right around the corner. To prepare, I spent most of my summer reading YA and middle school fiction, but recently, I took a break and read books I wanted to read for me. Sometimes it's hard to tell because there's so much overlap (yes, I like faeries and I'm not a teenager), but here are three books I can confidently say that I really wanted to read without any reference to work or school. Woo.

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

I'll admit that I saw the preview for the movie before I had ever heard of the book. That's usually how it goes, eh? And sometimes, most of the time really, I'd rather see the movie than read the book. Hey, if they've gone through the trouble of producing the thing, I should just see it, right? Yes, I know those are all horrible things to say and think, but I'm a book-is-always-better-than-the-movie kinda gal, so I don't mind saying them. In this case, I'm worried, though. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I did read the book (on the beach, listening to the waves crashing, smelling the ocean air), and while I enjoyed it immensely, I think it will translate better to film. Apparently, I'm not the only one. I'm also worried because I don't know if Amy Adams can do Julie Powell - Julie seems like an edgy gal, with a stubborn and fiery streak, sometimes crude, and mostly frustrated, at least in how she portrays herself in the book. And Amy Adams is just so sugary sweet (in a good way, of course). Ah well, I'll go see it sometime soon and maybe post what I think.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Oh, I have so much love for this book! First of all, I never thought I'd like a book written in letters (what's it called... epistolary?) as much as I did. I thought it would be confusing, especially with the introduction of a whole slew of characters, but it wasn't. I'd summarize it, but I really can't. Have you ever stumbled upon a bundle of letters in your parents' attic and just pored over them for hours? Or an old journal at an estate sale? I can't explain the fascination with it - it's just such an intimate way to see into a story, to get to know a group of people. It didn't hurt that I actually enjoyed the story part of it either. What can I say? I love books about books. :)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This one's at my bedside and next on my list. Rachel McAdams made me want to read it. Sorry, Audrey.
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