Wednesday, July 06, 2011

More Summer Reading

I just finished writing a Mercer Island Summer Reading List for, and I noticed that reading lists are ubiquitous this summer, with more cropping up each day. Here are a few from Shelf Awareness:

London cabbie and bibliophile Will Grozier
shared his recommendations for exciting summer reads on NPR's Weekend

The 10 best literary picnics
were showcased by the Guardian.

The Wrap suggested 9 books for entertainment junkies,
noting that "for those executive types who can't justify spending the
dog days dog-earring pages, we've included some books about high-powered
people just like you--as well as a few titles you might want to option."

Flavorwire recommended 10 manly books to honor Ernest Hemingway's death

Here's a tour I'd like to take, of famed authors homes:

Home is where the lit is. The Telegraph offered a slide show tour of
literary homes,
including William Wordsworth's Dove Cottage and D.H. Lawrence's birthplace.

And finally, I just finished Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" and Ursula Le Guin's "The Gift," both supposedly YA books that don't read like young adult fiction at all.

Much like the wonderful Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Both Graveyard and Gift have young kids (pre-pubescent) in situations where they are being hunted by people wishing them dead, and they are trying to gain power enough to exact revenge for the death of their parents and/or siblings. In the case of Harry Potter, it was by dint of wizarding magic, and in Gaimans Graveyard, Bod (short for Nobody) is raised by ghosts, a werewolf and a vampire, so he learns the secrets of the dead, including how to become invisible and wherein lie the "ghoul gates" for those nasty creatures to flow into the living world. In The Gift, Orrec is part of a family whose "gift" of disintegrating things is passed down from father to son, or mother to daughter, in the case of his best friend Gry. Unfortunately, though there are gifts that can be used for good, like healing, the men in power are only using their gifts for offense, to gain control of neighboring lands or livestock, and defensively, to keep other clans from doing just that. Orrec and Gry, however, don't want to use their gifts to kill, so they devise means of keeping their powers at bay for as long as possible, until they are forced into battle and some great revelations at the end of the book.
Graveyard Book was a real page-turner, which comes as no surprise, having read most of Gaiman's previous works (and loved them). He has the delicious ability to create frightening, even horrific situations that you're well into before you realize you're clutching the edge of your seat and leaving the light on when you sleep.
Even knowing that I am not a fan of the horror genre, I will still read anything Gaiman writes because of his fine prose, his witty dialog and his excellent storytelling, rife with unforgettable characters (like his teenage Goth girl Death, who somehow made complete sense). I highly recommend Graveyard Book to those in their 20s and beyond, while I would recommend Gift for teenagers in high school, because though it was grim at times, it had some moral aspects that might slip into a teenagers subconscious and do them some good when they're not looking.
I would also like to take a moment and mention Philip Pullman's "Sally Lockhart" mysteries, written in the 90s, that actually are easier to read than his YA series, "His Dark Materials/Golden Compass" series. Sally is a spunky British heroine who has a head for figures and a strong will to defy conventions of the day. Fascinating stuff.

No comments: