Rereading books

“Like pleated fabric, the text reveals different parts of its pattern at different times. And yet every time the text unfolds, in the library, or in bed, or upon the grass, the reader adds new wrinkles.”

What do you think about rereading books? Are there favorites that you revisit multiple times? Here is an interesting article about rereading books: The Pleasures and Perils of Rereading.

Every year, always around the time I have spring break, I read Pride and Prejudice. I think I’ve done this for about four or five years now, and it’s the same great experience every time. I’ve also reread the entire Harry Potter series multiple times, and The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue. I’ve reread other books too that I can’t think of, I’m sure! There are books though that I seem unable to reread…the Lord of the Rings series seem to be some of those. I also find it really hard to reread Twilight…the book I enjoyed in junior high before it went viral. Now I can barely stand it!

What makes a reader change her mind about a book? What makes books easy or hard to reread? Interesting questions to ponder.

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…Staying Alive?

My sister asked me a couple weeks ago how I find the time to blog while being a full-time student, working 2 jobs, and staying active in extra-curricular activities. I didn’t have an answer for her. Unfortunately I have to use that question as an excuse now as to why I haven’t posted in a while! Homework has caught up to me as finals week looms and I’ve had less time to read than usual 😦 However, I am still here! And still alive!

For my nonfiction writing class we’re reading Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. It’s a graphic novel/memoir, and it’s really interesting. It’s infused with all sorts of literary references, from Fitzgerald to Proust to Greek mythology. I’m also still reading Theft by Peter Carey. The brothers’ relationship in that book is fascinating to me, and the plot just thickened as they were accused of (guess what?) THEFT of a very valuable work of art.

So, further reviews to follow! I promise I will not completely neglect this blog…I’ll just have to be a little bit more creative in finding time to post longer reviews.

Bittersweet Summer

Just finished reading another book from NetGalley – Bittersweet Summer by Anne Warren Smith. I really enjoyed this one! Even though it’s geared toward children/young teenagers… what can I say, the child in me loved being able to come out to play!

What a cute cover!

This book follows Katie, who just finished fourth grade. She lives with her dad and five-year-old brother. Her parents are divorced and her mother is a country singer. Katie expects a normal, fun-filled summer vacation. Instead, her best friend goes on vacation, her neighbor Claire plans to make her dad and previous teacher fall in love, and her mom’s tour makes a stop in Portland, close to where they live. Katie’s world seems to be falling apart, and on top of that, her dad announces that he might transfer for his job and they might have to move!

For an almost-fifth-grader, this is a lot to handle. Katie manages to deal with it all and turn her summer around by the end of the book. She matures and learns what bittersweet means after she sees her mom and understands she travels too much to ever come back home. The end provides a sweet image of the three family members, all set to have a great rest of the summer.

This is a really quick read, and this book puts you in a good mood! Anne Warren Smith has also written other books (apparently Bittersweet Summer is a sequel, although it reads fine on its own), Turkey Monster Thanksgiving and Tails of Spring Break. The tone was light and fun, and the book was full of five- and ten-year old witicsim. All in all, a very enjoyable read!

Awesome News!

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Learner is The Book To Read!

It was published reacently by Coffee House Press, which is where I interned this summer!

It has recently been noticed by

* the New Yorker
* Bookforum
* Publishers Weekly
* National Public Radio
* the Wall Street Journal
* Nylon
* the Los Angeles Review of Books
* Jonathan Franzen (who called it “a beautiful, little novel . . . not like anything I can remember reading”)

I haven’t read this book (except for the glancing-over I gave it for proofreading as an intern) but I own it, so I definitely will read it! Here are some links to reviews, if you’re curious. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/11/jonathan-franzen-on-the-tv-version-of-the-corrections.html and http://www.npr.org/2011/11/09/142109786/life-without-plot-in-leaving-the-atocha-station

I also think that Coffee House might be having a SALE on this book too…more motivation to give it a look! 🙂

Mockingjay!

Well, I finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins!

 
The last book in the Hunger Games series

It was a good end to the series. I don’t think it was quite as spectacular as I expected though…but I’ll get into that!

 
In this book, Katniss and her family, and Gale, are living in the underground District 13. The Capitol still has Peeta. War is inevitable. Katniss’s role in the war, however, is just to be the public face – the Mockingjay. The leader of 13, Coin, believes that Katniss can use her power as the face of the Hunger Games to unite the rest of the districts and bring the Capitol down.
 
The book has the usual questions from Katniss – who am I, whom do I love (Gale or Peeta?), how do I protect my family. The newest question is this – to what extent is Katniss now Coin’s pawn as the face of the revolution? Is this any different than the Hunger Games put on by Snow? This will lead to an interesting twist in the end 😉
 
The action builds in this book just like the others, and we’re dragged into Katniss’s head, which is a fun and wild place to be.
 
Spoiler alert! You probably should stop reading if you don’t want this to spoil the book…
 
There were a few things that disappointed me about the ending. First, the most climatic moment when the Capitol is finally taken over, occurs while Katniss is knocked out from a bomb blast. After all that work of training to become a soldier and be more than the Mockingjay, it was disappointing that she (and therefore the reader) did not get to see this moment.
 
The other problem I had with the ending is that things aren’t fully resolved with the people in Katniss’s life. What about Gale? Her mother? The new president of Panem?
 
This book is also very politically charged – which is not necessarily a bad thing. It provides a subtle commentary on a dictatorship vs. a republic. It would be interesting to read this series again and look for all the threads that bring this aspect together.
 
All in all, I did enjoy reading Mockingjay, despite the few things that I felt were missing. It was a good final book to the series. There is no doubt that Suzanne Collins has succeeded in creating an addictive series! I liked every minute of reading.
 
 
My next book – back to reading Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey.
(Did I mention he’s a professor at Hunter College in NYC? I visited Hunter while I was in New York. It’s an awesome school and they have a fantastic creative writing program.)

IT’S HERE

I finally got my hands on the last book in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

This means that all the other books I’m reading will be rotated to the back until I finish this one…yes, I really am that excited to read it.

I can’t wait to find out what happens with Katniss and Gale. And what about Peeta? The second book, Catching Fire built up so much suspense. I can’t wait to see how it all works out!

The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal

I just finished The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal, another book provided by NetGalley. I finished the 291 page book in two days!

I have to say, the reason why I read this book so quickly is that I just couldn’t put it down. The Lifeguard is teen fiction for age 13 and up (so NetGalley says) and even though I’m a bit older than 13, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

Sirena is a 16-going-on-17-year-old who’s parents are in the middle of a divorce back home in Texas. Sirena has been shipped off to her Aunt Ellie’s house in Rhode Island for the summer, where she finds solace in the ocean. She is a painter and spends many days just gazing into the ocean, trying to make sense of her feelings about her changing world. Her best friend Marissa is away at summer camp and they can only write letters to communicate. Sirena befriends an elderly man named Antonio, who is also a painter. He is originally from Brazil and was a shaman. Sirena also deals with a screeching spirit that lives in Aunt Ellie’s attic and only wails during storms.

One day on the beach, Sirena notices the lifeguard on duty. Enter teenage fascination with hot boys. Pilot, the lifeguard, is blond, buff, and seemingly unreachable. She becomes obsessed with him and how mysterious he is – they never seem to have a full conversation because Pilot always pulls away. Sirena then begins volunteering at the local hospital where Pilot is an EMT tech. One day she witnesses him heal a young boy on the verge of death and confronts him, but Pilot doesn’t reveal a thing.

Frustrated by Pilot’s indifference towards her, Sirena swims out one day during a strong riptide. It’s no mystery that she is pulled underwater, but there is no way to explain how she is then stung by a sting ray, which are not creatures native to Rhode Island. Pilot saves her and is with her in the hospital, eventually healing her leg to prevent amputation. After this encounter, Sirena forces the truth from Pilot about his mysterious ability to be in the right place at the right time to save people and his ability to heal those who seem to have no hope. Sirena also visits Antonio again, and learns that Pilot is his grandson.

Are you intrigued? I was 🙂

I won’t give anything away – I want you to discover this book on your own. But after the accident, the relationship between Sirena and Pilot complicates and deepens, the mystery of the ghost is revealed, and a miracle occurs for Sirena in the face of great sorrow.

It’s also interesting to note the names of the two main characters – Sirena and Pilot. What do you think of the significance of these names?

All in all, this was a great book. Blumenthal is able to capture the impatience of a teenage girl’s spirit with quick, original phrases. We get to watch Sirena mature over the course of the summer and come to terms with herself and her changing family. Although there is a small degree of the supernatural in this book, it’s a refreshing change from the vampires and werewolves that dominate teen fiction. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction, beach reads, or anyone who wants to rediscover how teenagers experience life and love.

Can’t wait to read my next book, Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey. I bought it at the Strand in New York City!