Books – September Roundup

I’m going to defend my reading of comic books and graphic novels and counting them as “books” up front – because they just are.  I’m a librarian, and we as a profession have decided that these count, and that’s why you’ll find things like X-Men, Justice League, and lots of other comics shelves in the library.  It’s a different experience, to be sure, but the only people who would say that graphic novels or comic books “don’t count” are the same people who would say that I “haven’t read” a book because I listened to the audiobook version.  But we never liked those people anyways.

FINISHED:

Beauty by Kerascoët

I have no idea where I found out about this book, but I did, and so I bought it a while back from Comixology (which, maybe I’ll write about my history with comics at a later date), but hadn’t gotten around to reading it.  I knew I would have lots of time on my Denver trip, and so made sure it was on my app, ready to go.  Man, this story is MESSED UP.  And fascinating.  It’s a fairy tale of sorts, but with a more intense lesson about making wishes in haste, and how beauty isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.  It is NOT for children.  There is intense and gory violence, and disturbing sexual imagery.  But if you can get past that in movies or whatever, you can figure out how to read this fascinating book.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

I FINISHED!!! FINALLY!!! Literally, this book started my summer, and I didn’t finish it until the end of my summer.  Do you know how relieved I am?  The answer is very.  The story is the epic life tale of a young woman who we know from the very beginning will end up as a star in the Paris Opera scene in the late 1800s.  It’s really a decadent book in that the imagery is amazingly done and you feel like you’re there with her every step of the way.  I feel like I also learned a lot about French history, which – history beyond the little that was taught to us in school (which feels like such a scraping over of the world) is not my strong suit.  It’s all fascinating, but new to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it  The very last portion of the book was a little disappointing, but much of what led up to it was pretty terrific.  Definitely worth the time, if you can devote yourself to it.

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

I have read some super weird books this year, and this one would rank high on the list if I judged them on that quality alone.  Maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised since Yann Martel seems to live in the world of magical realism, a genre that I have a hard time getting a real handle on.  This novel takes place in three different time periods, and they are connected through place and a few characters and just oddness.  The last section is the one that I constantly found myself going, “WAIT – WHAT???” to the actions of the main character, but now that I write that, I find that I had similar reactions to the action in the first two sections.  It’s a strange book.  It’s definitely interesting, and if you’re more into this type of book than I am, you’ll probably get more out of it.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

I honestly read this one for the main reason in that it came available as e-audiobook at my library just as my previous book was ending.  I don’t know what I was expecting from this one – I’d read an interview with Smith last year, and thought she sounded like an interesting person, which is why the book went onto my list.  It’s so much more modern than I had expected, and tackles a lot of interesting issues.  I’ve heard from others who have read it that they were sort of disappointed, and that it wasn’t Smith’s best effort, so it makes me want to read some of her other books in order to see what really good is, because if this is mediocre from her…that means the others will be something special.

Fables, Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham

This is actually a re-read, but I haven’t actually read the books since 2008 or so.  But I’m playing a game right now that is set in the world of the Fables, and it inspired me to go back and re-read things.  So that’s what I’m doing.  There may end up being more Fables volumes on this list, and that’s because they’re good.  I do enjoy the skewering of fairy tales as a literary device, and Willingham’s world is a fascinating one that I now only have vague memories of – vague enough that it will make revisiting that world a renewed joy.  This is definitely a good series of comics for newbies to enjoy since you’ll recognize some of the characters and tropes.

Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger

Another book that I’m not sure when or how I became aware of it.  But it’s this lovely illustrated story of a girl that will remind you of Audrey Hepburn (on purpose!) becoming involved in the world of Christian Dior in the late 1940s.  Fashion has always been a semi-secret fascination of mine, and I loved seeing the history and the behind the scenes process here.  The story is fairly light and really used as a framing device for the actual life and history of Dior himself, but it was a lovely little sojourn into the world of Parish high fashion.

IN PROGRESS:

Two Tales!

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

I was really enjoying the way this story was being told until it became more firmly rooted in a period of time, and I began to see anachronisms.  For example: video sharing sites where anyone could upload – when did those become a common thing?  Or the prevalence of mobile phones?  In any case, the story is excellent so far, but I’m having a hard time reconciling the time, which may be purposeful on the author’s part?  Who knows?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Book club book for next month that was originally meant for this weekend (but got rescheduled).  LOL.  I have the book, and I’m making progress, but life is busy, and so…this gets pushed back.  It’s fascinating to read this after having watched the television series earlier in the year, and see which choices the producers made about stories to keep and drop and how much of it is actually from the book.

***

Six books this month, and I’m still five behind where I should be.  Can you believe it?  There’s no rest for those on a schedule, and certainly no rest for those behind it.  I really need to stop choosing LONG books.

2 Comment

  1. Jennifer Smith says: Reply

    Hi Maggie,

    This is one of your old library acquaintances. I was curious to know what you are up to? I was looking for your name on NCMI. But see you aren’t there anymore. 🙁

    1. maggie says: Reply

      Hi Jennifer – yeah, I left a couple years ago. Now working for the Navy at NRL.

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