deeplyunhip: (reminders)
[personal profile] deeplyunhip
So after the first post back in March, I am finally up to making some kind of update in [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman's Reading Bingo Challenge:









After the first update a million years ago, the next book I read was Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett. It was a good time, though the main feeling that stuck with me was serious amusement at Nanny Ogg and her "wordly" ways/vocabulary. This book satisfies the "book given to you as a gift" square (thank you, [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman :).

Next was The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber, which satisfied one of the "non-fiction" squares (since the same square shows up in each one I feel the need to use a separate book to satisfy each one). This book detailed the turn of nurse/serial killer Charles Cullen and somehow managed to make this horrific tale boring as can be with the blandest journalistic writing possible. A big disappointment.

I breezed through Girl on the Train, which satisfied the square for "female protagonist" (I know Witches books do, too, but this had one clear protagonist). I enjoyed the perspectives in this book a lot, especially the titular girl's. I found it quite the addicting read. This can also count as the second "author you've never read" square because I'd never heard of Paula Hawkins before this. Oh, and it counts as "continent you've never been to", as well, as it's set in England (so, Europe).

Then it was back to Pratchett, with Lords and Ladies. As promised, this increased my fondness for Magrat exponentially. Though I was shocked to find her major turning point in the story was not somehow Granny's doing. As always with Discworld, it was a lighthearted and amusing time but unfortunately books of that nature don't stay in my memory too well and at this point the main things I recall are Magrat's queen outfit and Pratchett's very creepy version of fairies.

For a book heavily featuring food, I happily recommend Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach. She is one of my favorites, always. This book, like all her others, is a humor-filled adventure with lots of information you never knew you needed to know. In terms of food, some interesting things I remember reading include the point of history when chewing was all the rage (this one "scientist" encouraged folks to chew each piece of food 100+ times), the nutrition of organ meat (and its stigma), and the human being's disgust with saliva (e.g., how you won't eat a piece of food you already chewed and then spit out, since, you know, it's gross as hell). And I am somehow just now remembering that this is non-fiction, too - it almost feels like it's a magical story with her, hahah. Will have to cross out that other non-fiction square before the next update.

Then I borrowed The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Clarie North from Anders. Loved it. I love the whole concept of a person enduring entire lives as if they were decades-long Groundhog Days, changing choices each time he is born again. I completely believed Harry's reactions to the various lives (e.g., thinking he was mad in his second life when he was old enough to realize what was going on, spending one life studying all religions looking for answers, spending another life studying all of science to do the same, etc.). I liked Harry, too, though I found the antagonist of the story to be less than compelling. No other characters were dealt with in serious depth, but I understand the reason for that, as they are small parts of Harry's many, many years on Earth. [livejournal.com profile] ikel89 informed me that Claire North is the same person who writes the Matthew Swift series she loves and explained that the series gives you a strong feeling of the London atmosphere. I can tell this author is quite skilled in evoking a sense of place, and just as well with a sense of time/age. Even though 80% books that I read fall into this category, I'm counting this one as "book without magical creatures" (it's so odd to me that this is a square, instead of WITH), since it's got a mystical/magical aspect to it but all creatures are un-magical and realistic.

Finally, I just finished reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio, since I felt it was time for something quick and had heard good things about it. This counts as "heavily featuring kids" as all of perspectives are either fifth graders or high school students, with the main character a fifth grader. It also counts as "character with a physical disability" as Auggie suffers from hearing loss in addition to craniofacial abnormalities. I do feel that this is very much a kids' book, but I think it's a well-done kids' book. Based on my experience tutoring 4th/5th grade students, I feel like the author did an excellent job portraying the voice of this age group and the types of things kids care about. I also really like how she illustrated that Auggie's difficulties are not just his own (or his parents') - his sister, his friends, and others all share perspectives in the book and all struggle based on their association with Auggie, even when they mean so, so well. What I also really like is how the perspective of each person shows they each feel ashamed of and/or different about something in a similar manner to what Auggie feels about his face (like Jack Will and his family's money issues) - it seems like a good way to illustrate to kids that there's no one who lives a problem-free life, that everybody has insecurities. The ending seemed inevitable based on the tone of the story, but it seemed too neat to me, especially once I got to the part *after* the ending, with the pieces of wisdom from each student in the class. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, though, and it made me consider what my role would be as a teacher if a student with this type of issue were to end up in my class at some point in time.

Here's hoping I can get a good few more books in before the year is over.

Date: 2015-11-17 03:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-geekette.livejournal.com
I love the whole concept of a person enduring entire lives as if they were decades-long Groundhog Days, changing choices each time he is born again.

You might be interested in checking out Replay by Ken Grimwood and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, then. Atkinson is doing a follow-up with another character called A God in Ruins that probably works better if you read it after Life After Life. I haven't read A God in Ruins yet; am just assuming on the reading order.

Date: 2015-11-19 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deeplyunhip.livejournal.com
Life After Life is on my (admittedly humongous) to-read list already - will have to look more into Replay!

Date: 2015-11-17 06:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hamsterwoman.livejournal.com
and at this point the main things I recall are Magrat's queen outfit and Pratchett's very creepy version of fairies.

That's mainly what I recall, too, I confess, but those things are enough to make it one of my favorite Discworld books. I'm glad the Magrat fondness effect worked for you (as I was pretty sure it would) :)

Very interesting to read your thoughts on Wonder. I wasn't sure if the kids were realistic for that age (they felt a little bit older to me), but given that you spend way more time with kids that age than I do, I'm happy to have your confirmation that they are indeed realistic. I also found the ending too pat, and it actually soured my enjoyment of the book somewhat -- Augie ended up feeling almost like a mascot to me, which undercut the previous development, I hadn't thought of the different POVs as revealing points of insecurity specifically, but you're right, that is a unifying theme, and a good one.

I'd like to read Fifteen Lives at some point, though I found Kate Griffin's writing a bit hard to digest -- not in a bad way, but just... it tends to be dense and loaded, and I'm kind of expecting her writing under the North pen name to be similar. I am also still full of intent to read more Mary Roach, including probably Gulp.

I admire your commitment to not using the same book for the same square on different cards. Considering you're being way more restrictive than I am, that is impressive progress!

Date: 2015-11-19 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deeplyunhip.livejournal.com
I wasn't sure if the kids were realistic for that age (they felt a little bit older to me)

Now that I'm thinking about it more I think my perspective might be affected in a different way, as well, since I grew up in New York and lots of what's in the book is super "NYC", like the overnight trip to actual nature, teens taking the subway on their own, the whole knowing people in the neighborhood without feeling any obligation to actually know them...maybe it's possible the kids felt a bit older for you because childhood is a different kind of experience in California? Just a thought!

Augie ended up feeling almost like a mascot to me, which undercut the previous development

Yeah, I can absolutely see that. :/ While I like the other perspectives, I think giving Auggie more time to speak for himself might have helped somewhat in this regard.

I'd like to read Fifteen Lives at some point, though I found Kate Griffin's writing a bit hard to digest -- not in a bad way, but just... it tends to be dense and loaded, and I'm kind of expecting her writing under the North pen name to be similar. I am also still full of intent to read more Mary Roach, including probably Gulp.

Mary would be so proud that you called a book "hard to digest" and then transitioned to Gulp on that topic. <3
And, yes, I can see what you mean about the person-of-many-name's writing being quite ~full~ but I definitely felt that worked well for a book meant bring various periods in time to life (1920s - 1980s/1990s) in various countries.

I admire your commitment to not using the same book for the same square on different cards. Considering you're being way more restrictive than I am, that is impressive progress!

Thanks! I'll have to check on the rec list for some other stuff soon, but Anders has been raving about books he's recently read (Name of the Wind, Lies of Locke Lamora, and Red Rising) so I may check out one or three of those first. Not sure if they fulfill any requirements, but hmmm...if Red Rising has a red wing on the cover, that could perhaps count as a "red cover", no? Will have to consider. :D
Edited Date: 2015-11-19 02:20 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-11-19 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hamsterwoman.livejournal.com
maybe it's possible the kids felt a bit older for you because childhood is a different kind of experience in California? Just a thought!

That is definitely possible! I forget what specifically about the kids felt 'older', but it is definitely a potential explanation that we are sweet summer children here in California :P

And, yes, I also wished we'd gotten more of Augie's POV. I did like the different ones, and think that makes the book work well, but I did feel like Augie's ultimately kind of got swamped by the cumulative POVs of everybody else, and his was the most interesting one for me.

Mary would be so proud that you called a book "hard to digest" and then transitioned to Gulp on that topic. <3

Ahaha, that was totally accidental, but I'm still claiming credit for it! XD

OK, I can't really think what squares those books would fulfill (rec from friend or media, maybe? I mean, Anders counts as a friend! -- and that would give you a bingo on Random) but I heartily endorse the plan of reading NotW and Locke. OK, maybe it would be fairer to say I endorse them with caveats: I liked NotW but liked the sequel (Wise Man's Fear) even more, even though I think it's probably objectively a weaker book. I adore the magic in these books, though, and while I'm not a fan of the framing story, I find the writing quite clever and quotable. And as for Locke, another great and quotable book, lots of fun swashbuckling. My issues with it are all spoilery, so I won't go into it, but I will mention that the sequel to Lies (Red Seas Under Red Skies) has a red cover. Basically, these are both books I'd be very excited to hear your thoughts on and to talk about!

Red Rising sounds intriguing, too -- and I do think you could count it as a red cover.

Date: 2015-11-29 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deeplyunhip.livejournal.com
Thanks for your thoughts! I think my plan right now is to try to get into Red Rising and Name of the Wind during winter break, while saving Locke Lamora for later. I'm reading another nonfiction now and will hopefully be able to look into the third of your witches books before the break starts.

Date: 2015-11-29 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hamsterwoman.livejournal.com
Definitely looking forward to your thoughts on NotW! and Locke Lamora eventually :)

Date: 2015-11-19 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firefish.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed Their Girl on their Train as well. It was really easy to read but also quite engaging. So it worked for my commuter brain!

Date: 2015-11-29 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deeplyunhip.livejournal.com
It is funny that a book with the tile On the Train is pretty much perfectly made for commute-reading. :D

Date: 2016-09-29 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raynedanser.livejournal.com
Mary Roach wrote one of my favorite books ever - Stiff. I read Bonk at one point too, but I remember liking Stiff more. :)

Date: 2016-10-01 09:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deeplyunhip.livejournal.com
I read it many years ago, but I was really impressed with Stiff too - interesting to hear it's just as impressive to someone who actually works in the funeral area!

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