Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reading: More or less the 2nd half of 2015

This will be only a partial list, because I'm lazy and also forgetful and also I'm two months into 2016 and forget where I was on the list when the new year rolled over. I didn't read as much the second half of the year because I started a new job. And that trend is continuing in 2016 as I am taking an evening Italian class and will be starting a different, more challenging, higher-paying job a week from today. (I'm currently on the last book in the Harry Potter series, which I read at least once a year.) I really wanted to re-read some classics, and catch up on a few that I never read as a youth, so this list skews a little more old-school than normal. So without further ado...

1. The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton. I loved it just as much as an adult, maybe even more than I did as a kid.

2. The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. I have no idea how this one would up on my reading list, but I probably would have picked it up based on the title alone. It was a zany, madcap, implausible adventure and I had a really good time reading it. Highly recommend!

3. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, also by Jonas Jonasson. I picked this one up because I loved the other one so much. While I enjoyed it, I probably wouldn't re-read it. It's another zany adventure but for some reason it was far less believable than the other one. It centers on a young woman from South Africa and there's a lot of international politics involved, as you can imagine from the title. Good, but not as good as the other.

4. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. I've tried and failed to read Sylvia Plath before, but finally I did it. I think it was a hard read for me because I'm so removed from that social and professional scene, and because it was hard to accept that the medical treatments she describes were real. Ugh, I'm so glad we are continuing to evolve to find better ways to talk about and treat mental illness. I can't say as I enjoyed it, but I'm glad I read it.

5. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier. This is a book from the 1970s and focuses on concepts of bullying. I so wanted a happy ending after all the main characters went through, because I think we've all experienced bullying (by students for sure, and sometimes even the teachers) in some form or another, and it can be so psychologically damaging. It was pretty intense, and another book I'm glad I read but probably wouldn't read again. I didn't know there was a film based on this book, but I think I might hunt it down to watch.

6. Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli. This one isn't so much about bullying as it is about social norms and acceptance when you're a teenager trying to figure out who you are and what you believe. It was a fun read, though it didn't shy away from hard topics. I dare you to read this book and not fall in love with the title character.

7. This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Trooper. I remember seeing previews for the film a couple of years ago, and decided I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie (as is my usual habit). It took me a while. I'm still on the fence whether or not I actually liked the book, and even though I haven't seen the movie I doubt it could do justice to either the comedy or the intense family emotions that are present in the book. Then again, the movie has such a fantastic cast, maybe it will. It's a pretty screwed up story, about a wackadoo family who clearly love and often dislike each other, but still entirely plausible and that's what makes it good.

8. Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is the story of a teenager with anorexia and some of the important people in her life. Hard to identify with, but also enlightening. I particularly loved the relationship between the main character and her (much) younger half-sister.

9. Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I read every single one of the books in this series. As a girl I think I read this one but no others, but I LOVED the television show(s)/movie(s). Even though it was set so long ago, I still love Anne, and I love the people she loves. They seem a leetle teensy weensy bit two-dimensional now, but still. The series is romantic and whimsical and philosophical and moral and lovely.

10. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. A very quick read, and after reading it I'm surprised I never read it before. It's such a great allegorical fable, and made me think about life from an angle I'd never considered. Way more pleasant than Animal Farm, that's for darned sure. I hated that book. Ahem, anyway. It's a simple story about complex concepts, which I think are the hardest to pull off. Maybe modern cynics wouldn't like it, but I did.

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