**spoiler alert** There is a very specific reason why I love this book as much as I do. One very specific word having almost nothing to do with the bo**spoiler alert** There is a very specific reason why I love this book as much as I do. One very specific word having almost nothing to do with the book and everything to do with me.
The book is incredible on its own, truly honest and brilliant, but what really sank its clutches into me was John Green's use of the word "disintegration" to describe what it feels like when an important friend suddenly dies. In the book, when the students are gathered into the gym and are told about Alaska, Pudge describes the student body going through "various states of disintegration" and at that word I just lost it. Years old grief erupted in me again as if it were anew, the wound reopened as if it had never closed, and all alone in my apartment I fell into great heaving sobs.
In November of 2005 one of my best friends from childhood was murdered, and when I found out I disintegrated. That was the literal feeling that I experienced, like I was losing my grip on the whole world, and at the time I could never think of the right word to describe how it felt and suddenly there it was on the page so stark and true that it brought me right back into that horrible moment, like a song. It's true, what this book jacket says, that nothing is ever the same.
I was so affected that I went into a frenzy and wrote John Green an email chronicling my reaction, apologizing for my behavior and thanking him dozens of times for getting it absolutely, unequivocally right. About a month later he responded to the email to say he was sorry about my friend but that he was grateful that his work was able to help me in some small way. I almost lost it again, only this time in adoration, because the fact that he took the time to respond to my email from his inbox of thousands pulled at my heartstrings so exceptionally that I couldn't form words, and the only thing I could do was squee and cry happy tears and fangirl out at my husband.
So yeah, that's why. I don't ask you to understand, but that's my truth....more
I don't want to say that I had high hopes for this book, but what hopes I had for it were let down. Not because it was a horrible book, but because II don't want to say that I had high hopes for this book, but what hopes I had for it were let down. Not because it was a horrible book, but because I just kept hoping for more substance as I kept reading. I felt like the entire book just skimmed the surface of the world the author created. I just wanted more detail. It did make me appreciate how much I love Harry Potter and His Dark Materials...not because it was reminiscent of it, but because I wished the story could have that depth of detail.
I liked it enough to pick up the second book in the series, which I started this morning, and I hear it gets a bit better. Probably won't read the Dragon Heir unless this one blows me away....more
Definitely liked this installment more than the first. I prefer Seph as the main character to Jack, hands down. The story itself was good, the pace deDefinitely liked this installment more than the first. I prefer Seph as the main character to Jack, hands down. The story itself was good, the pace decent, but I could see the "twists" coming from a mile away and that bothered me. This book was darker and more haunting than the first and that kept me reading. I like the dark stuff. Gimme tortured schoolboys over ignorant schoolboys any day.
I've got the third book next in my TBR pile....more
I remember being oddly drawn to the cover of this book, staring at the old man for long stretches of time, memorizing his beard, his wrinkles, his eyeI remember being oddly drawn to the cover of this book, staring at the old man for long stretches of time, memorizing his beard, his wrinkles, his eyes. It was the first time I remember looking at a picture of someone and knowing that they were out in the world somewhere, or had been, and at some point in their lives they sat down with a photographer and this picture was taken. This old man was somebody's grandfather, or had been, and he was immortalized on this cover, forever associated with this book, long after death. It was an important moment for me, age 8, and it started it all.
My third grade teacher read this book aloud to my class the year it was published. Out of all the nominees for the Newbery Medal in 1993, she chose this one to read, and I have been forever grateful.
I do wish the book had been longer. I didn't want it to end. I wanted to experience more transmitted memories through Jonas' point of view, and I wanted to hear more about what the other community members didn't know. I wanted Jonas to read one of the books that only he and the Giver had access to. I wanted MORE. I felt a little robbed when the book ended, because I love Jonas with all my heart and I wanted to stay with him. I love that Lowry took us inside his head the way she did, because I loved his thoughts, and his realizations, and the destruction of his innocence. I loved every part of the book except for the ending, because I like to know things. I don't like to guess. Some people are of the opinion that Lowry got lazy with the ambiguous ending, but she is a brilliant writer, with brilliant messages and characters. Maybe I will learn more about the ending of The Giver when I have read its two companion books, Gathering Blue and Messenger.
**spoiler alert** The Book Thief had me from page one.
Here is a small fact: You are going to die.
That's all I needed. That's all I will ever need. Thi**spoiler alert** The Book Thief had me from page one.
Here is a small fact: You are going to die.
That's all I needed. That's all I will ever need. This book is a treasure and it has earned its' spot as a Favorite.
What can I say about this book that hasn't been said? How can I stress its' importance? How can I ever again give a book a 5 star rating? How can I start a new book tomorrow? Or ever?
Some people see the style and the narrator as nothing more than a literary gimmick. Some say the plot is boring and the tone is depressing. I don't see it this way. What is depressing to them is beautiful to me. I love having my core shaken by a book. I love that I can get so involved in a story, in a style, in people that my heart breaks on behalf of their pain, or their happiness, or their fear. Any book, or movie, or song, that can make me feel that is something special. There are few things as life-affirming to me.
More to be written later, when my eyes aren't swollen with sleep, heat, and tears....more
The Twilight series is not a literary achievement. Let's get that straight. It is a cultural achievement, and a fucking infuriating one at that. It haThe Twilight series is not a literary achievement. Let's get that straight. It is a cultural achievement, and a fucking infuriating one at that. It has become more than the sum of its parts, and because of this I'm not rating it based purely on the book itself anymore. I'm changing my review and rating based on the phenomenon that has risen and the consequences that have come from it.
Yes, I bought into the Twilight nonsense at the beginning. I'll never live that down. I read them and I loved them even though the smart girl inside of me knew that they were junk food for my brain. The problem, I've realized, is that I knew they were silly while I was reading them but not everyone is that smart and there are people in the world that actually think they are literary achievements. Those people really exist. Yes, I demolished each of the first three books in a matter of hours and had insanely visceral reactions to them, so I understand how it rose into its cultural significance, I just don't always understand why. They are written in such a way that you are Bella Swan, who is the Maryest of Mary Sues available in young adult literature, and that probably has everything to do with it.
Twilight, look at what you've done to young adult literature. Look at the paranormal romance storm that has evolved in your wake! You've sullied the young adult literature genre, which had been steadily improving, and I'll talk for hours about how I hate you. I shouldn't be letting you occupy any space in my mind, but I do and that's very sad. So I guess you win this round....more
The only good part of this is Bella's descent into madness and depression when Edward leaves. Those few pages of nothing to signify her feelings. ThatThe only good part of this is Bella's descent into madness and depression when Edward leaves. Those few pages of nothing to signify her feelings. That was powerful.
Outside of that Bella literally throws herself off a cliff for this dude. Way to teach our young girls what's important, Stephenie Meyer!...more
**spoiler alert** As soon as Bella mentioned wanting to name their baby Renesmee, I had debilitating flashbacks to reading terrible fanfiction in midd**spoiler alert** As soon as Bella mentioned wanting to name their baby Renesmee, I had debilitating flashbacks to reading terrible fanfiction in middle school (because giving characters, especially babies, cheesy names is the bread and butter of fanfiction) and my rose-colored glasses with which I had been reading the entire series shattered in that instant. I literally yelled "WHAT THE FUCK?" and from the other room my husband inquired as to what was wrong. "RENESMEE," I told him. "She wants to name her child RENESMEE." I knew he wouldn't understand what that meant to me, that it was signified folly. He said, "Yeah, that's pretty bad." I was so put off that I had to leave the house, had to be in a place away from that book. It was like I'd been under mind control and suddenly awoke with free will again. I put the book down and didn't pick it up again for three months. At that point it became a joke to me, how bad it was. The icing on the cake, the final nail in the coffin that contained my inner Twilight fan, was the battle with the Volturi at the end, and by "battle" I mean "tense diplomatic conversation" where they say hey, nevermind, we're cool now, sorry, peace out! and don't fucking fight and everyone lives happily fucking ever after.
I've put off reviewing this book for years because, well, how do I? Just calling it my "favorite" book seems likeThis is my favorite book of all time.
I've put off reviewing this book for years because, well, how do I? Just calling it my "favorite" book seems like an insult because that description is not good enough, not big enough to encompass the entirety of my feelings and memories and all that it means to me.
This book is the foundation onto which my entire adolescence, and hence my adulthood, were constructed.
There are better books, sure. I've read lots of books that are better than this one. Reading this as an adult for the first time would not be the same as reading it as an adolescent, no matter how imaginative or appreciative you are of coming of age stories. Reading this for the first time as a ninth grader within its first year of publication without the internet to praise it or word-of-mouth to guide me while I was dealing with a very difficult and trying time was one of my life's biggest serendipitous events.
I found this book on the way back from one of my little brother's baseball tournaments in Oklahoma City. It was April 2000. I know that because while we were in Oklahoma City we visited the brand new Oklahoma City National Memorial for the victims of the Murrah Building bombing (a big deal in general but an even bigger deal if you happened to live in Oklahoma as I did). We had already made it back to Tulsa, where I lived close by in the suburb of Broken Arrow with my mother, and my dad decided to stop and buy my brother and sister something to read on their 3-hour drive back home to Wichita. They were already so close to dropping me off that I assumed this bookstore trip wasn't for me and that I wouldn't be getting anything, which I was used to. You know, being the part-time older kid. I understood.
As my brother and sister took their time elsewhere in the store I gravitated to the fiction section.
Keep in mind that at this time in my life I wasn't the biggest reader but my dad's side of the family was, so when I was with them I read because that's what you did. Books were special to them. I enjoyed reading but I didn't get it yet. I hadn't felt the need yet.
I ran my fingers along the shelves of Borders (may it rest in peace) and there on the shelf beneath the library ladder I spotted a small book with a baby blue binding and a long title that I vaguely recognized. I pulled it from the shelf and was immediately spellbound by the bright minimalist cover, the feel of it in my hands, the perfect dimensions, the comfortable bend of it. I turned it over, read the blurb, and my interest was appropriately piqued. Voraciously I opened the cover to reveal not a bunch of reviews or praise, but this first page:
Time was like a stopped breath, that minuscule moment between breathing out and breathing in. I was occupying that fragile space like I never had before. You might think I'm exaggerating, but my fifteen year-old self really did feel like the only person in the world in that extended heartbeat. Suddenly owning this book was the most important thing in the world to me. The desperation that came over me, the intensity of it, to know in my bones that I could not allow myself to leave that bookstore without that book in my hands.
That, that right there, was my first experience with the need to read.
I gripped the book tight to my chest and searched through the aisles for my dad.
"Dad," I said, showing him with the book with sincerity. "Dad, please."
He must have seen it in my face or in my tone. He showed a small amount of trepidation at the price tag (my dad is a very frugal person and this book was $12, more than I had ever paid for a book at the time and twice that of what my brother and sister had chosen) and on top of that I was almost home, I was not in need of entertainment for the drive. He didn't have to do it, but he did. And if he never bought me another gift in my life, he bought me this book, and that is worth everything to me. Not just any copy. My copy.
You see... I love my copy. That picture above is of my copy and if you look closely enough you can see the thin bit of tape between the cover and the binding to hold it all together because I taped both covers back on when they fell off. It's been lost, bent, cried on, stained. I refuse to buy a new one. They don't make them the same anymore. They don't make them with that all-important enchanting first page anymore. My copy is one of a handful of treasures that I will collect in the event that my house ever goes up in flames and I have only a short time to make it out. It is irreplaceable. My favorite thing about my copy is that so many people that I have known over the years have borrowed it. Most of my best friends have read it. I loaned it to the best teacher I have ever had, my ninth grade English teacher Mrs. Camp, who was the Bill to my Charlie. It is a relic of my life.
I took that book home and read the whole thing that very night. Every sentence, every feeling, every everything about it spoke to me and mattered to me. It was the very first time that a book made me realize that I was not alone. Do you know how valuable that was? To know that at least one other person in the whole of humanity understood me and the way that I thought about things? I felt invigorated and justified and comforted and real. Those are powerful emotions for a 15 year-old girl.
I made the One Winter mix tape and listened to it religiously. I read a lot of the books that Bill gives Charlie to read and a lot of them became favorites. I started Secret Santa exchanges with my friends. I wrote in my diary in letter form. I joined newspaper because of Punk Rocky. I decided I wanted to be a writer. It influenced the way I speak and think and react to things. Without this book I would really, actually, truly be a different person today. To my core, I would be different. I know that.
I try not to get too hipster about things but sometimes I can't help it, and this is one of my biggest hipster triggers in that I will staunchly proclaim that I read this book before everyone in the whole world had read this book, that it was my favorite first, that it's mine and private, and that nobody understands. In those moments I am Holden Caulfield and everyone else is a phony and a bandwagoning poser and the Holden in me is sick and disgusted with it. Then Holden recedes into the shadows of my mind a little as Addie comes back out and tries to be very appreciative that at least people are reading it and appreciating it and that should be enough. It can mean different things to different people, and that's the beauty of literature. Interestingly enough when people talk about this book around me I find myself erupting into a knowing smile but I stay very silent. Internally I am being very loud about it but the last thing I want to do is waste words with people about my favorite book if they're just going to have a light understanding and appreciation of it. I can't reign it in once I start. I don't know how to explain to them that I get it, that I know and that I hope they do too but that I doubt it very much.
I would say that everyone needs to read this book, but truthfully, it's not the same unless you're a lonely ninth grader with a secret and a new family full of crazy people to navigate through without disturbing the delicate waters of harmony in a house that is not your house but it also is and how sad it is when all you want in the world is your mom back and for things to be how they were before....more