WWW Wednesdays #2

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can participate — just answer the questions!

What are you currently reading?
I started Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood last night and expect to finish it soon. As a ‘graphic memoir,’ Satrapi recounts her growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution — a poignant story glossed in the lightness of humor and a child’s perspective, yet balanced and emotionally compelling.

To add, I’m also busy reading Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. I hope to finish it tonight and kindly chuck it inside the library drop box on campus — the book is well overdue! But Mort is patiently waiting for me to open up its cover, and I hate returning unfinished library books. By comparison, I find that Equal Rites feels more enjoyable than the first two Discworld novels, and I’m loving the character set.

Lastly: Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. This book sat and sat (and sat) on my shelf for so long that I can only tell you it’s been (maybe five) years. I’m not sure where I picked it up from — Where did I buy it? Was it a gift? — and the cover displayed on my blog is not the edition I own. My copy, published in 1996, seems to enjoy hiding its face. It’s too early in the story to formulate a proper opinion, but the text is more readable than I thought it would be.

(I have an ugly bias against some classics. I assume they hold dry, stuffy text, and then I feel delighted to learn there’s a rich story worthy of consuming.)

What did you recently finish reading?
The last book I finished was Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. Quality artwork is, of course, a plus, but I enjoyed the believability above all. Maggie’s relationship with her family (brothers, dad, and the mom who bailed) feels realistic without coming across as sentimental or exaggerating ‘typical’ family roles. First-day jitters and high school cliques brought back memories of my own, but the paranormal aspect struck me as out-of-place. Is the ghost’s presence necessary? Because the widow seemed more like a loose end that could have been easily snipped. I’m reminded of Anya’s Ghost, although Brosgol made Emily’s character an essential, very grounded part of the plot.

Other books I finished:

  • The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. Oh, I don’t think this one truly counts as ‘finished’ since I skimmed through the last 150 pages. All libraries throughout the county shelf Scott’s Flamel series as “TEEN,” but this reads more like poor children’s fantasy. I wanted to like the story and I wanted to love  the characters (and hate — there’s always some character to hate!), but I couldn’t look past Scott’s writing style (which I simply hate). While I love fantasy, I spend the majority of my reading time plunged into YA ‘realistic’ fiction (like How to Say Goodbye in Robot) or dystopian… as of late, anyway. Still, I expect to see fluid writing, details adorning the story (but not superfluous), and developed ideas. Michael Scott’s creation of Josh and Sophie — the new world they discover — felt marred by poor writing and overall lackluster. Last Wednesday I indicated that I would carry on with the rest of the series, but I’m not sure I will.
  • The Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao shows one reason I still enjoy children’s picture books. Compared to others, like The Seeing Stick and Lucy Dove, I don’t find the artwork particularly impressive but it’s nonetheless engaging and fun. At the heart, though, is a story: a young woman, blind, begins her journey home at the subway where her mind also wanders (and wonders). A tight combination of fragility and wistfulness come together and pack a soft but impressive punch.

    “I push my way onto a train full of people. Do they have someone waiting for them at the other end?”
    — Jimmy Liao

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan is wordless graphic novel I suggest everyone of all ages read. I checked this out from the library, but it quickly earned a spot on my favorites list and I now consider it a must-own. In his beautifully crafted story of an immigrant, Tan’s work took my breath and captured my imagination. I am a puddle of mush, entirely enchanted and absorbed by The Arrival‘s cinematic quality — what a blast of freshness and artistry.

What do you think you’ll read next?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It’s about time, too, and no library due dates will get in my way this time. Nothing will get in my way. I will start it this week, I will read it, and I will enjoy it.

Enough said (for now).


Summer Reading 2012

Summer does not officially begin until  June 20th, but today welcomed the end of spring classes as I begin digging through an aggregation of books. My summer reading list, which originally consisted of 50 or so titles, expanded to into a larger pile of 74. Residing in that list of 74 are books upon books I am far too eager to start, such as The Alchemyst, The Hunch Back of Notre-Dame, and Un Lun Dun (to name a few). This week, however, I’m looking forward to three in particular:

  1. Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono
    Praise by BookLoons.com: “An exciting, fast-paced adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.”

    I hope so! At 459 pages, who knows if I can finish this by next Sunday, but it’s a story I have waited to read. In the first book of  The Twelve Kingdoms saga, Yoko Nakajima is thrust out of her ordinary life and into a magical realm known as The Twelve Kingdoms. The set-up and environment of these kingdoms, I have read, reflect Chinese mythology — something I almost always find provides wonderfully engaging settings to get lost in.

  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    It is likely I never noticed just how frequently Dorian Gray references are woven into pop culture, but I feel the almighty mystical forces of the universe trying to transmit a message. Dorian Gray, Dorian Gray: oh, narcissism! (“How sad it is! I shall grow old and horrible and dreadful.”) Point of message: either I am incredibly vain or I need to read Wilde’s novel. Well, I hope it’s the latter.

    More and more, Dorian Gray is popping up in my life. In this week alone, I encountered near a dozen (or more) incidental mentions: from book reviews, TV shows, and everyday conversations.  Okay Universe, I hear you.

  3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
    Even before its official release this month, high ratings have nested Shadow and Bone in a rainstorm of praise. I couldn’t feel more excited to pick up Bardugo’s book tomorrow, and I intend to read it the instant I get home. Oh, if only a leash can help lower my expectations. I’ve allowed the hype to seep in, slowly raising standards, and I’m afraid disappointment will override the excitement. Hopefully that will not be the case.
Happy reading, everyone. Enjoy your weekend!