2014 bookshelf update: part 2

All right, so March and April weren’t quite as productive on the reading front as January and February. But new books were still read, and that, my friends, is success!

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

  • This one’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a few years now, a Christmas present from my great-aunt and uncle. Even though it’s been recommended to me by essentially the entire Internet, I just never had the time or desire to read it. But once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read a lot of books set in the WWII era (both fiction and non), but I think this is the first I’ve read that comes from a German citizen POV. The book is narrated by Death, who is telling the story of Liesel Meminger (the titular Book Thief), her family and friends, and how they survived the war. It’s really the characters that make the novel so engaging; they all manage to be very honest and innocent even though they’re living in time and place that’s so far from honest and innocent. It makes me curious to see the movie adaptation that came out last year. I highly recommend giving this book a read.

Garden of Stones, by Sophie Littlefield

  • One afternoon I was struck with a whim to go waste away a few hours reading at a coffee shop, but I had left my Kindle at home (alas!). So I grabbed the book that looked the most interesting at Target, which happened to be Garden of Stones. It was…disappointing, I guess? It’s another WWII-era novel, dealing with a Japanese-American girl and her mother’s experiences with an internment camp. I felt like it skimmed and over-simplified quite a lot, not really getting too deep into any situation. It had a promising premise, but it never really engaged me and left a lot more I wish would have been explored. Oh well. Those kinds of reads happen now and then. Darn you, Target, and your limited non-romance paperback selection!

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman [recommended by Megan]

  • I had seen the movie adaptation before reading this one, so the surprises at the end were already spoiled for me. But it was still a wonderful read, perfect to accompany a cup of tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Gaiman creates a really curious and interesting world that just draws you in and makes you feel comfortable. I definitely recommend picking this one up soon. One last note: If you, like me, have already seen the (quite excellent) movie version, you’re going to notice that the film expanded a lot on the supporting characters from the short novel to create an even fuller world. The novel is still well worth reading, but you might notice some of your favorite characterization missing. 

I also took some time in March and April to re-read two old favorites: The Giver (Lois Lowry) and Paper Towns (John Green). And I’ve been working my way through Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (about 2/3 completed), but I’ve kind of hit a wall in that reading. I’ll pick it up again soon, I’m sure, but right now I’ve got Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places taking all my literary attention. “Nerve-fraying thriller,” indeed.

Work will be less demanding now that summer’s getting here, so expect these updates to get much longer in the next few months. Especially since my “To Read” list currently sits at 30 books long (and those are just the ones I’ve written down). Here’s to a summer full of books! And, as always, recommendations are more than welcome!


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