This book tag, another challenge from Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master, (mostly) avoids all forms of superlative, and for that I thank it most unabashedly. I may be able to do another of these at any time without feeling the need to repeat any answers. I’m not saying that I will, just that I appreciate the option. So somehow sans superlatives, I’m much more relaxed about this book tag than I was about the royal court.
The royal court was about characters. This book tag is about books. The pile of books that I’ve encountered is a lot smaller than the community of characters, making this tag a lot easier to complete too.
Chocolate Book Tag
Dark Chocolate – a book that covers dark things
One of the darkest books I’ve read in a long while is J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, a modern, realistic social drama that deals with the consequences of poverty, drugs, prostitution, marital discord, family discord, family pressure, social pressure, self-harm, suicide, death of a family and community member, the death of a child, preventable death, guilt, hypocrisy… and that’s just what I remembered off the top of my head since I read it in April of 2014. A quick look at my review reveals that too there’s domestic violence, mental illness, workaholism, and rape.
There are a few books I keep around just for light reading. One of those is Roddy Doyle’s The Giggler Treatment, which is crams clever, absurdist humor into a brief 111 pages with illustrations and chapter divisions.
Milk Chocolate – a book with a lot of hype right that you’re dying to read
A lot of hype may be a stretch, but there is certainly some hype, especially among the online book review community—or a portion of them. There is not, though, a mainstream book with a lot of hype that I am dying to read right now. Often once a book has garnered a great deal of hype, reading it, as a bookseller, feels more like an obligation that a personal desire. It’s a tricky tightrope. That being said, I am dying to read Tara Sim’s upcoming book, Timekeeper, and not just because she’s a friend and classmate of mine. No cover reveal yet. Certainly no review from me yet. But it is on Goodreads, and it is garnering some notice, as I said, from the bloggers and Tweeters. Timekeeper is expected in Fall 2016. It’s going to be a long wait.
It really seems as if this question should not be as hard as I’m finding it, but I have been running to my roommate more often than not for “fluff” and not finding much that grabs me among her suggestions. Moreover, because I do have a book review blog, I am often reading books more critically, not giving them the chance sometimes to melt me as effectively. Lastly, I just don’t think I read a lot of fluffy novels, most of them being more the-world-will-end-if-we-don’t adventures. Some of those novels have ooey, gooey scenes or lines, but I would never say that the whole book is mushy. Perhaps the ooiest and gooiest that I can think of it Nancy Tillman’s Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of rereading, and it’s sort of difficult to be surprised by a reread—not impossible, mind, just difficult. Most of my surprises lately have been unpleasant—as in “I expected so much more from you!” I don’t really want to promote those. Most of the novels that I’ve read this year have been rereads, continuations on a series, or novels that I expected to like and did like. The picture books that I’ve read I either expected to like and didn’t, or I didn’t anticipate reading (most of my picture books are chosen by Barnes & Noble corporate or are read as I walk them home from wherever a customer has left them). Maybe my best surprise has been Steve Light’s Have You Seen My Dragon? which I sort of expected to like because dragon, but I didn’t anticipate having any educational elements. That it doubled as a primer was a pleasant surprise. Even so, that surprise was in March of this year….
Snickers – a book you’re going NUTS about currently
Or a series? I am always recommending to parents and we are always reading at story hour a book from Mo Willem’s (currently) 23-book Elephant and Piggie series. The kids love them. The booksellers love them. The parents love them. They cover a wealth of kids’ struggles and questions with humorous dialogue and illustrations. They are a lot of fun to read aloud.
Can I have a favorite comfort series too? It used to be Harry Potter, hands down. And I’m still often in the middle of one, but now it takes me a year or more now it seems to read through one Harry Potter book. Things have to be pretty bad indeed before I run to Harry and co. Lately I’ve been running more frequently to one of the five books of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Percy and co. are more likely than Harry and co. to make me laugh. The swift pace tumbles me more quickly and more deeply into Percy’s world than I am tumbled into Harry’s (though whether I ever truly leave Harry’s is a potential debate topic), and when I need a comfort read, I likely want to be transported and quickly from my own world and trouble. Some of Harry’s book are furthermore just long, and if I do get sucked into one of those, I am in for a longer commitment, where I can be fairly confident in easily finishing a Percy Jackson book in a few weeks even if I’m reading slowly.
A box of chocolate – a series that has a bit of everything and a lot of people would really really like it
There is a quiet effort at joint conquest between a co-worker and myself. We find one another whenever we manage to get someone to purchase Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, first in The Kingkiller Chronicles (a book I honestly am NUTS about as well). It takes very little for me to suggest The Name of the Wind. Primarily, I need to be confronted with a reader of a certain age and a certain openness to fantasy. Usually I am not given enough time argue the literary quality of these books to an anti-fantastist and potentially win a convert (a feat I would consider a great victory), but I think I could make that argument convincingly. The first book in the series I consider more of a bildungsroman than not, making it a great stepping stone into adult fantasy for younger readers (teens, new adults, people who prefer children’s literature for whatever reason but are mature enough to handle the darkness allowed by marketing to an older audience—but no one below age 13 certainly, and probably no one below age 16 or so). There is a clever orphan boy who goes to school and succeeds with his cheek and cleverness, makes friends, upsets teachers, learns magic…. You might find that sort of summary (comfortingly) familiar. Rothfuss’ poetic command and convolution of the English language is stunning—just stunning, musical as his protagonist claims to be. The world-building is top notch, especially as the series goes on and we travel the world and encounter different cultures and races, but I was caught by the detail of his magic system far before we ever left the Commonwealth. There are strong female characters who defy patriarchy (though maybe not with as much success as I could hope, at least in the second book). There is political intrigue, and I’m starting to believe there will be even more of that when we eventually get book 3, The Doors of Stone. There’re romances for those who enjoy that. There are periods of darkness to satisfy those craving dark fantasy. I could go on….