Sunday, September 2, 2012

a few words on my August reads...

Atlas by Katrina Vandenberg.

Oh my, how I love this little volume of poetry. Love. Not every poem, mind you. But loving every poem in a collection just seems a tad unlikely. There were four ("Tulipomania," "I Meet My Grandmother in Italy," "The Green Rivers Over Their Faces," and "Jack O'Lantern") that moved right to my favorite poems of all time list though--that's pretty impressive in my book. (I'd love to share one of them with you, but I must admit I'm just not sure of the etiquette, ethics, what-have-you of such things.) Another admission: I don't know squat about the technicals, vocabulary, etc. of talking about poetry, so you'll just have to forgive me my ignorance. To me this felt like such an incredibly cohesive collection, which makes it seem odd just how different from one another I find the four poems which completely won my heart. Btw, I really adored many more poems in this collection, it's just that these four particularly have taken up residence in my being.

Wandering Son, Volumes 1 and 2 by Shimura Takako.

I wish that I felt I could adequately describe these books, because I really feel they are something special. As usual, Ana does a perfectly wonderful job in talking about them. In fact, it is her I have to thank for picking up these books at the library.

This series tells the story of two preteen children, Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki. Two transgendered preteen children. Part of what makes these books so lovely is that while the fact that Shuichi and Yoshino are transgendered is certainly a big part of their stories, it's not their entire story. They are children entering that often intimidating land of puberty. They have parents and siblings and friends. They have inner struggles and outward struggles. These books are not all cupcakes and puppy dogs, but neither are they bleak and harsh.

I also wanted to mention the short articles at the end of each volume. They were written by Matt Thorn, the translator. The one in the first volume dealt with linguistics, especially relating to gender, and the second to GLBT people in Japan. I found both fascinating and believe they added to my reading experience.

As soon as I finished these two lovely, gentle volumes, I went right to the computer to see if the next volume was available yet. It turns out that it came out here just last month, but our library system doesn't have it. I'm so eager to see where Shuichi's and Yoshino's stories are going that I might just have to go ahead and order it. :)

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Okay, so I always pretty much believed that I'd eventually get the hang of audiobooks, that it was just going to take the right one to get me over the walls I seem to have erected. But Jane Austen--I *never* thought we were going to hit it off. Yeah, so imagine my surprise to find that it was one of her books that got me over that audiobook hump.

I honestly have no words to describe this shock. Because it's not like I just found that I could actually stomach a Jane Austen book. NO--I found myself completely and utterly in love this novel! I swear I walked around with a smile of charmed amusement adorning my face nearly every minute I listened.

So was my bad experience trying (and trying and trying) to read Sense and Sensibility just a matter of bad timing? Or is it that when it comes to her books I'm really better off listening? Or is it as simple as I'm going to like some of her books but not others? So, all you Jane Austen aficionados (Eva, you know I'm looking at you, right?), since I fell so head over heals in love with Northanger Abbey, what one do you think I ought to try next?

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Read this one for school. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. (Did rather enjoy the very end, however.) I do think that Gray will enjoy it more than I did. And it shall hopefully lead to some good discussions about various -isms, about science and science fiction, etc. We read The Hound of the Baskervilles last year for school--I definitely enjoyed it far more, and I'll be interested to hear if Gray feels the same.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

Ahhh. A reread of one of my favorite books. And yes, it still made me swoon with utter delight. Which seems an odd thing to say considering just how sinister and creepy it is. This will be Gray's second lit selection for the school year...and I'm so eager to see if he will love it as much as I hope he will. I suspect the playful, lyrical language that I so adore in Bradbury's writing will catch him a bit off-guard, but I'm hoping he'll give it a chance before just deciding he hates it.

Hers³: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbian Writers edited by Terry Wolverton with Robert Blake.

As is often the case with anthologies, I enjoyed some of the stories in this book more than others. But really the extremes were extreme, particularly on the negative end. I really adored a few of the stories, enough so that they made it worth my while to read the book. And then, I positively despised two of the stories...and I rarely despise anything I read. So yep, like I said--extremes. But I guess that's not terribly surprising, because the stories collected here are so incredibly varied--in subject, in style, in length, in genre. Some stories felt raw, others comforting, others lyrical. With the exception of Emma Donoghue, all the authors were completely new to me. And there are a few I will be searching out more of their works to read, such as Ellen Hawley, Gwendolyn Bikis, K.E. Munro, and Jane Thurmond. So yes, it was an uneven experience for me, but one I'm glad for nonetheless.

Emma, Volumes 1-10 by Kaoru Mori

Already talked about them here.

Projects Progress for books mentioned:

Wandering Son (volumes 1 and 2)--Unofficial-for-me reading challenges: Graphic Novels 2012
and Mission: Read the World (setting-Japan)

Northanger Abbey--Unofficial-for-me reading challenges: What's in a Name 5 (type of house)
and Mission: Read the World (setting-England)
and 50x50 (#39-Read 50 classics)

The Lost World--Mission: Read the World (author-Scotland)
and 50x50 (#39-Read 50 classics)

Something Wicked This Way Comes--50x50 (#40-Read a book set in each of the 50 states-Illinois)

Hers³--50x50 (#45-Read 50 short story or essay collections)


Eva said...

Ask and you shall receive! ;)

S&S is my least favourite Austen, so it might just be that you didn't get along w it as well. I love NA too, and I'd say you should try Persuasion next. I have a hard time imagining you not falling for that one!

Chris said...

I'm kind of thrilled that you liked Northanger Abbey! I have it and after reading Persuasion I didn't think I'd ever read another Austen but really wanted to like her I'll give it another chance.
And Oh's by far my favorite poetry collection ever...but we've talked about that to no end :p

And I have a copy of The Lost World on it's way to me right now :D It's part of the Penguin Books for Boys series!

Trish said...

YAY!!!!! I have the biggest smile on my face. And why didn't I think about your walking--that's great audiobook time because there are few other distractions (besides the great beauty of where you live, of course).

I just listened to North and South by Gaskell on audio and really enjoyed it--it was a little less dense as some of the Austen I've read. Narrator was Juliet Stevenson and after browsing audible ysterday it looks like she's done several classics.

Debi said...

I just knew you'd help me out! :) Thank you!!! I'll probably wait until after RIP, but I strongly suspect Persuasion will be adding some big old happy to my November reading. :)

I really do think you'd enjoy Northanger Abbey! I listened to the Libravox version read by Elizabeth Klett, and I thought she did a lovely job.

I haven't joined Audible yet...but it really seems like people love it, huh? Not sure we can really afford another monthly bill. And yet I am so tempted! :P

Susan said...

Debi, I love Persuasion, it is one of my all-time favourite novels. Northanger is fun - I do like it too. So I'm just delighted that you've found a Jane Austen book you like :-)

I have to get Atlas; first Chris, and now you rave about it! I have it on my to-get list ever since Chris raved about it, but have not been able to get it here yet. Our library doesn't have it either. I'm so excited to hear that you enjoyed it so much. I love it when poems go straight into the heart too :-)