What I've been reading

"What I've been reading" is an ongoing series of posts the content of which should be very much self-explanatory based on the title.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple

Source: Library. This is my public library's "Read One Book" fiction selection for this year, which means we'll have various book discussions and other programming centered around it.

Format: Audio, which was great.

Verdict: Go out and read it. Then get mad at the ending like I did. I can't tell you about it without spoilers. But this is a witty, charming, laugh-out-loud sort of read with truly great and bizarre characters and then at the end it just... pffffizzles.

The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood

Source: Library (interlibrary loan, to be more specific - hallelujah for interlibrary loan)

Format: Audio

Verdict: I loved this book so much I ran out and bought my own copy. The audio is great - the chorus of the maids is actually chanted in multiple voices like a true chorus, and the narrator gets Penelope's wry tone down perfectly - but this book is so good that I imagine it works equally well in print. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus's travels, but his faithful wife Penelope is never mentioned beyond, well, her great faithfulness. In this book, Penelope tells her story of what she thought/felt/did while Odysseus was gone, and it ends up being a great commentary on feminism and humanity and what it means to be a woman. I read Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale years ago and remember very little of it, but I should probably re-read it because there are many smart people I know who think she is an amazing writer, and judging from The Penelopiad, I'm guessing they're right.

How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity, edited by Michael Cart

Source: Library, checked out on the recommendation of a coworker.

Format: Print

Verdict: If you love stories about LGBTQ people living their lives, finding themselves, and dealing with the world, run out and read this book. They were all so good I can't even pick a favorite. Here you have stories from famous YA and adult authors, including John Green, Emma Donoghue, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Francesca Lia Block, Jacqueline Woodson, and Gregory Maguire. There are some illustrated comic book style stories and some stories written in verse in addition to the more traditional format. I was so glad I picked this one up. "My Life as a Dog" by Ron Koertge is in particular a standout piece.

Happy reading!

What I've been reading

Here's a peek at what I've been reading lately.

The Meaning of Human Existence, by Edward O. Wilson

Source: Library

Format: Audio

Verdict: Great if you're into biology and listening to scientists fight with each about their theories, but a little boring for the layperson. Edward O. Wilson fancies himself a bit of an outsider in the biology community and clearly has a grudge against proponents of inclusive fitness theory. There's nothing wrong with that, especially since he's upfront and matter-of-fact about it. But this didn't really capture my interest.

Strange Fruit, Volume 1: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, words and pictures by Joel Christian Gill

Source: Library (after I submitted a purchase request for it)

Format: Print

Verdict: I loved it. Go buy it right now. I love learning about history in graphic novel format - I find history to be very dry and boring, but the graphic format helps turn it into manageable chunks that hold my interest. This book tells stories from black history that I had never heard before and I loved every minute of it. The art style is cool, the stories are engaging, and diverse works are important. If I were still working in a school library, I'd buy it for my teens and display it prominently. I hope there will be more volumes.

    

 

 

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

Source: Library

Format: Audio

Verdict: I love it. The audio is the best - highly recommended. Neil Gaiman narrates the story himself, there is music from the Magnetic Fields at the beginning of each disc that really sets the mood, and the story is fantastical and engaging and a little bit creepy. I'll be checking out the movie now, too - I was worried it would be too dark for me, but the book is so wonderful I have to see the film adaptation. Definitely suitable for kids.