Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Books: January 2013

If you recall, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to read more.  I believe in that post I stated that the goal was one (new) book per month, but I'm going to fudge that rule slightly to be 12 (new) books this year- same outcome, different parameters.  The reason I'm giving myself this sort of leeway is because there are a few rather heavy books on my reading list for this year, each of which may take more than a month to trudge through...but we'll see.

So here's what I read this month.

Paper Towns by John Green // image via Amazon
 After avidly watching vlogbrothers videos for the past couple of years, I finally got around to reading John Green's novels so that I can officially call myself a Nerdfighter.  His books came highly recommended by my baby sister, with the exception of this one- she said she found the main character annoying.  I can kind of see where she's coming from, but he seems to sort of realize this about himself before the books is over and learn from it.  As always, Green's grasp of the teenage brain is so accurate it's scary, and his dialogue is oftentimes hilarious.  This is a book about empathy, and about seeing people for who they really are, not who we want them to be.  While we, along with the main character, are set up to believe that something incredible is happening, or has happened, or is about to happen, we're almost disappointed to find out we are wrong, and people are people, nothing more.  But maybe you're not disappointed- maybe you're relieved.  I think the way you react to the climax of this book probably tells you a lot about yourself- but then, that can be said for all books worth reading.  I definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of not only YA (Young Adult) fiction, but any fiction in general.

Internet Spy by Ian Probert // image via Amazon
Mr. Geek recommended this book to me- a fictionalized re-telling of the first ever CNE attack.  It's a very thin paperback, written at a middle school level, with a kid as the main character.  It is pretty fascinating in a nostalgic sort of way to read about the early days of the internet and personal computers and hackers, and the underlying story actually is true.  I recommend this to middle school-aged students who like computers or a good spy story.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray // image via Amazon
I read Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy in high school, so I already had an appreciation for her ability to construct a fantasy world complete with love interests and scary monsters, but this one is set in the real world, for the most part, so that was hard to reconcile.  Going Bovine tells of the mad adventures of a teenage boy who has been diagnosed with mad cow disease- a terrifying disease which is slowly turning his brain to mush and causing vivid hallucinations.  It's a little disorienting to not know what is a hallucination and what is really happening, as you're not sure if this is one of Bray's fantasy worlds or our own world, and therefore you don't know which set of rules applies- but I think that's the point.  I'm not sure if I like this book, to be honest with you.  I enjoyed reading it, and I can appreciate the message, but at times the narrative becomes a bit didactic under the guise of a whirlwind adventure, and Bray finishes with a rather cowardly ending, hiding behind her everything's-going-to-be-okay theme.  Perhaps that's what bothers me so much- the ending.  Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that I really enjoyed how we arrive at that end, and I understand that, in order to tell the story that she's telling, it's necessary, but were this "real life" and not a story, I would not condone it (the ending) in the slightest.  Anyway.  I do actually recommend this book if you like weird mind games and crazy adventure stories and jazz music.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky // image via Amazon
I finished Going Bovine on a business trip and needed something to read on the flight back, so I picked this up in an airport bookstore and read almost all of it in a little under 3 hours.  Obviously this book has received praise for years for being absolutely genius and beautifully expressing the universal themes of high school, but it was nothing like what I'd expected.  Maybe I'm too much of an old fart, but I find lately that when I read about teenagers, I relate to them more like they're my children than my peers- so my heart hurts for Charlie, not so much in an "I know those feels, bro," sort of way, but more of a, "Somebody give that kid a hug," sort of way.  I can't help but want to protect the characters from the circumstances they're in, screaming at the parents of these kids to just talk to them for Heaven's sake, but I realize that the point of this story is that nobody can protect you from heartbreak, and had Charlie been saved from the terrible things that happened to him, we wouldn't have a story.  I'm really very interested in seeing the movie now, though I have a sinking suspicion that it just won't be the same story.  I mean, I imagine that the same events that happen in the book will happen in the movie, and the characters will have the same names, and certain iconic lines will be repeated, but I just don't think the Charlie in the movie will be the Charlie in the books.  I do recommend this book to fans of YA literature, but I think this, like the movie Mean Girls, is better appreciated as a nostalgic look back on high school, not while one is still experiencing it.

What books did you read this month?  Have you read any of these books?  Did you like them?  I'd love to talk to you about your opinions on any of these books in the comments!

Much love,
The Geeks

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