Hey, Marginalians. It’s been a long break. Really long. And that’s awesome and wonderful and I don’t wish it had been shorter, but now that I’m a lot lighter in my wallet, I’m trying to think of some awesome things to share with you that don’t involve my jet-setting ways. (It’s true—I’ve only been in the city for about ten days this entire break). I thought this would be a hard task, but I had to look no further than my bookshelf to find that interesting “thing.” I have a strange organizing system (as I lack enough shelf space for all my books), and I have a shelf devoted to books I’ve recently read, in order, along with those I’m currently reading. I read a few books at a time, so here’s a bit of what I’ve read recently and what I’m currently reading.
1) I Know This Much is True, Wally Lamb
Buy this book. Right now. It will haunt you (in a good way) after you’ve finished it. It’s engrossing and shares every aspect of human emotion as the reader journeys through a year in the life of Dominick Birdsey, whose identical twin brother has just been committed to a mental institution following a violent act he committed due to his schizophrenia. Dominick is untouched by the disease, but he’s plagued by his own emotional demons that threaten to tear him apart. I devoured this 900-page tome in a short time, completely involved in the stroytelling, the movement from present to past and back, and thinking, wow, this is how you write a character completely.
2) The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
I don’t cry. It’s just not something I do. I have cried one time since I was seven-years-old… and then I read this book. I should have known that a book dealing with a teenager who has terminal cancer couldn’t end with rainbows and butterflies, and it’s not that this book is sad and depressing, but…wow. Green writes a young adult novel that doesn’t pander to his audience and that is brutal, raw, and beautiful. The characters are the most well-rounded I’ve read in a YA novel in some time, and I find myself connecting with Augustus and Hazel in really uncanny ways. If you want to know how to write “real” romance, pick up this book. And a box of tissues. Also, it has been on bestseller lists for over a year now. Time named it their #1 book of the year.
3) Every Day, David Levithan
A super-awesome friend took me to The Last Bookstore in L.A. and told me I could pick out one book as his treat. I perused the aisles and found this. By a YA author I love, the blub on the book flap of his newest novel hooked me. This is a high-concept book that has a great 250 pages bookended by a beginning and end that, while not weak at all, weren’t as strong as the body of the work, which ultimately let me down a little (though I still highly recommend it). A wakes up every day in a different body, always a teenager (A “ages” like normal people), and lives life as this person for a day. And then he falls in love with his host body’s girlfriend. From there, A keeps trying to find ways to get back to her. Super cool concept and totally worth the read, but…there’s something missing.
Stuff I’m reading:
1) Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
I lost my copy and just found it. I wanted to read it before the movie came out. I still haven’t seen the movie, nor have I finished the book, but I am enjoying the ride, even though I’m still trying to figure out how it will all fit together as a whole in the end.
2) Hot Pink, Adam Levin
This guy is my literary crush. I think I scared him when I met him at the AWP party that 826CHI and McSweeney’s put on last February and I kept telling him how awesome he was. I probably sounded like a deranged ex-boyfriend or something. Regardless, I’m obsessed with his 1,080 page long novel The Instructions, which you should all read. This is his shorter book of short stories…which you should also all read. He’s my favorite burgeoning writer next to Karen Russell. I hope to one day have a book as great as theirs are and hope they agree to write blurbs for me!
3) Love, An Index, Rebecca Lindenberg
This is the first book of poetry that McSweeney’s put out in their new poetry line. O. M. G. This is heartbreaking and heartbuilding all at the same time. I don’t even want to explain it, but the titular poem is an alphabetical catalogue about different words (and then poetic vignettes) dealing with the disappearance (and likely death) of her partner. I say “currently reading” because I keep rereading it. I cannot recommend this book enough.
So, there it is. I hope some of you pick up one or some or all of these books. What have you been reading? Add your lists to my margins!