I read Maus: My Father Bleeds History for book club this month. I was looking forward to it because I had never read a graphic novel and it was about...moreI read Maus: My Father Bleeds History for book club this month. I was looking forward to it because I had never read a graphic novel and it was about World War II, an era of history that fascinates me.
I wanted to like Maus more than I did, but I just couldn’t. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I’m not sure if this was because it was my first graphic novel experience and it was different than I expected. Or, what it was exactly. But, there are several factors that contributed to me not loving the novel.
First, Spiegelman drew the characters in animal form. The Jews were depicted as mice, non-Jewish Poles were pigs, Americans were dogs, and the Nazis, of course, were cats. I’m a cat lover and I hate that cats are always vilified in cartoons and movies. For once, I’d like to read a book or see a cartoon/movie where rats are the bad guys and cats are the good guys.
Second, I tried to pay attention to the pictures, but I wanted to read the words. I got caught up in them. I know I looked at the pictures, but I didn’t get lost in them. I didn’t spend time looking at the details. They weren’t what interested me. Looking at the pictures and then reading the words felt very disjointed. If I could read the words, then go back and look at the pictures, it might have felt better. But, I don’t really want to go through the book again just to look at the pictures. Maybe, I’m just not cut out to love graphic novels.
Third, because Maus is a graphic novel, I felt a lot of filler or description was missing. What I love about reading is getting to know the characters. Sure, the dialogue helps with that a little, but I want to get inside the characters’ heads. With Maus in particular, I wanted to know why Vladek felt the way he did. I wanted to know how we was feeling at any given moment. I didn’t just want to rely on the outside manifestation of his feelings because they can only tell you so much. And, especially since Maus is non-fiction, I wanted more depth to the story.
Even though I didn’t love Maus: My Father Bleeds History, I’ll read Maus: And Here My Troubles Began, the other graphic novel in this duology, because I want to know about Vladek’s experiences in Auschwitz and I especially want to know how he and Anya survived the camp.(less)
The World's Strongest Librarian is a non-fiction story about Josh’s struggle with Tourette Syndrome. I have a like/hate relationship with the book, so...moreThe World's Strongest Librarian is a non-fiction story about Josh’s struggle with Tourette Syndrome. I have a like/hate relationship with the book, so I’m settling on “it’s okay.” I really hope I can word why I feel this way so that you can understand where I’m coming from.
I'm going to get the negative out of the way so I can end on a positive note. Josh grew up Mormon. And, I know people, even of the same faith which I happen to be, don't have the same opinions, views, or beliefs. I'm definitely not naive enough to believe that. And, I know people lose their faith. It saddens me, but I know it's a part of life. The fact that Josh lost his faith didn't bother me. The fact that Josh had differing views or opinions about some things didn't bother me. What bothered me was the negative connotation his writing created surrounding Mormon doctrine.
I loved his funny anecdotes about how family scripture study never seems to go the way parents want it to or the fact that the scriptures can be very boring to read. I also love his anecdotes about those members who are so caught up in everything religious/spiritual, they can't have any fun because they think it isn't appropriate. And, I really loved how honest he was about how he felt about the fact that he was struggling and didn't know if he believed. It was raw and endearing because of all of his struggles.
At the same time, almost every time he introduced doctrine of the LDS church, he used words like "supposedly" or "allegedly." For example, Mormons believe that Joseph Smith had a vision of God, the father, and his son, Jesus Christ, as two separate personages in a grove of trees when he was fourteen. When Josh introduced this belief, he said something like, "allegedly Joseph Smith saw...." Instead of using allegedly, couldn't he have just left it out and then said something to the effect of, "I'm not sure I believe this, though"? That has much less negative connotation and it doesn't attack those who do believe the doctrine. At times, it felt like he was pandering to two crowds as if he didn't want to offend either the extremely religious or the other end of the spectrum. It felt very two-sided whether it was intentional or not.
Also, at the beginning, he says, "This is a work of nonfiction. I've re-created the majority of the dialogue, but it's all faithful to the substance of the conversations." Some of these conversations felt very contrived to address his needs or meet an unseen agenda. I'm not sure how to illustrate this because it was just a feeling I had.
Okay, enough of the bad and now for the good. Everything he talked about regarding Tourette's was very interesting. I feel like I learned a lot. I had preconceived notions of what Tourette's was and now I feel like I understand it much better than I did before. I feel bad for him and anyone with Tourette's. I'd hate not having control over my body. I can see why it makes things difficult.
I really liked most of his writing style (not including the supposedlys and allegedlys). He was very funny. His writing made his life interesting to read. I felt like I was reading a novel and not a memoir, which definitely helped with the entertainment factor.
I'm glad I read the book because of what I learned about Tourette's. But, truth be told, I'll never read this again.
CONTENT WARNING There’s some language in this book, especially the F-word. It didn't bother me too bad because he was quoting people when he used it. It helped establish those people's personalities.(less)
I absolutely loved Cut Me Free! The story, writing, everything about it was phenomenal!
JR Johansson wrote this story in a way that it wasn’t too graph...moreI absolutely loved Cut Me Free! The story, writing, everything about it was phenomenal!
JR Johansson wrote this story in a way that it wasn’t too graphic, but it still got the pain and sadness across. She brought some hope into the story so it wasn’t all depressing. And, she wrote believable characters that made you feel what they felt.
I felt so many emotions while reading this book. I was so sad for Piper, Sam, and Sanda. I was horrified that people could do this to someone and think that it was okay. I’m angry that people do this. I was scared that something would happen again. And, I was relieved when Piper and Sanda found each other.
Piper was a great character. I loved reading her perspective. It was truthful and hesitant. Because she didn’t have a normal upbringing she questioned herself and her motives. I felt so sorry for her. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her she was a good person.
I loved Cam. I loved that he took an interest in Piper and he could tell that she was scared and didn’t trust anyone. I loved that he pushed her, but not too hard because he knew she needed time to heal.
I was on the edge of my seat the entire time! The story was so intense. I wanted to finish it as soon as I started reading it. This is the first book in a long time that I stayed up later than my bedtime to finish.(less)
I really enjoyed reading Paranoia. It was so much fun and just as clever and creepy as Insomnia was.
I really enjoyed learning more about the Night Wal...moreI really enjoyed reading Paranoia. It was so much fun and just as clever and creepy as Insomnia was.
I really enjoyed learning more about the Night Walkers. Because Parker didn’t know much in the Insomnia, we relied on what he knew and what he told us. In Paranoia, he learns a lot more about Night Walkers and their world. It was really interesting and unique.
I loved getting to know the secondary characters better–Addie, Finn, Mia, and now Jack too. They added a lot to the story and to Parker’s motives.
I loved the romance and the sexual tension in this book. There was some awesome chemistry between Parker and Addie. I was a little frustrated with what seemed to be a love pentagon, but luckily that only lasted for two or three chapters and turned into a mild love triangle. I wish the triangle hadn’t been there at all, but it definitely was on the tamer side so I didn’t begrudge it too much.
I expected a lot of the things that happened in the story. But there were a few things that I didn’t expect and I’m still wondering if they’ll turn out to be “something” in the final book.
I’m excited to see where we go from here, what we’ll learn next, and how Parker will cope with it all.(less)