Ok you guys, I’ve been trudging through the same book for like a YEAR, so it’s gonna be a while before I post a new “Book Report!”. So in the meantime, I’d like to document some of the books that I like, have liked in the past (when I was young and stupid…er), and/or think everyone should read.
Ohhh man, what a good book. This was the first dystopian story I had ever read (I was in maybe 4th or 5th grade), and it blew my mind. If you haven’t read it (who are you??) it’s about a boy in an alternate/future-type society who discovers that there is a dark side to his idyllic world. I’m the kind of person who finds utopian societies desirable (They ride bikes everywhere! It’s always San Diego-style climate! Everything is clean and in order! What could be wrong with that?), so once in a while I need people to spell out for me exactly why removing people’s freedom miiiight be a bad thing. Also, fun fact, I have read this book exactly twice: Once, when I was in elementary school, and once about two years ago. Reading it as an adult, I learned that I had previously NOT AT ALL understood the ending, and had foolishly thought that it ended MUCH more optimistically than it really did. Ahhh childhood naivete, how sweet.
I already have a tendency to anthropomorphize animals, so maybe this book was just kindling the flame. I really do find, though, that the more I learn about animals (I mean facts, data, research), the more similar to humans they seem to be. They learn, think, communicate, share, comfort, despair, fear, envy, protect, fight, make peace, etc. What separates us from them? Not much, I think. Mostly, this book made it so that I feel guilty and apologize (out loud) when I kill a spider. I do still kill them though. Charlotte was great and all, but she doesn’t need to be hanging out in my shower.
I love this kid. I’ve always liked to draw, but I never felt like I was very imaginative or creative, so the way that Harold thinks is so inspiring. He invented thinking outside the box. I also like the idea of creating the world that you want live in (in a broader sense, i.e. don’t litter if you want to live in a world with no litter on the ground), and Harold was totally in control of how his world turned out. If he got into a jam, he had the presence of mind and creativity to draw himself an escape route. What a great role model.
I am just such the little emo kid. I read this in middle school, of course, and thought that it was speaking directly to my black little soul, of course, and I was all, ooo now I have permission to be brood-y and mad at the world. If you haven’t read it (again, who are you?), it’s about a teenager dude who meanders aimlessly through New York, having various interactions with people that all validate his sense that people are “phony”, disappointing, and generally beyond his grasp and/or beneath him. It’s nice, as an adolescent, to see someone acknowledge that sometimes people really are inane/self-centered/moronic/etc. But when you gain a little maturity, it’s just like ughh…yes, sometimes it rains, but must we spend an entire 200 pages discussing just how unpleasant the rain is?
I LOVE this book. I love Mary Roach as a nonfiction writer; she could make any topic interesting, engaging, and easy to understand. In this book, she explores all of the common things that we do to a person’s body after death (e.g. embalming, burial, cremation, scientific studies, etc.).
This book quickly teaches you not to trust any assumptions, opinions, or assertions made by yourself or anyone else. Ever. Data is your friend. And the more valid the data the better, though it’s best to just, ya know, keep gathering as much data as possible on every topic ever because you’ll never know the one right answer to anything. And apparently our world is built entirely on disproved assumptions that people have chosen to ignore.
Hey, weird! Margaret Atwood is on this list, who’da thunk? This was like the book version of The Sixth Sense- not that it’s the same story-line at all, but it had a surprise twist ending. I love stuff like that!! It had the kind of ending that makes you see the entire rest of the book in a completely different way.
I read this simultaneously with a friend while we were in college (the perfect time and experience for reading this). I can’t really explain what about this book was so great, but she was just a really good writer (no duh). Whenever I think of this book, I think of this one line that she wrote when she was nannying for a family one summer, and she ladled ice cream into bowls for them after dinner. I’m not going to attempt to recreate the line, but just that some random line about ice cream has stuck with me for so long is what I liked about the book. The simple but beautiful way that she described little things like that just delighted me. And the book really showed how hard she worked to be good and to be recognized as good (in the male-dominated world of writing). Writing is something we can all “do” in the sense that we can all sing (physically, we can), so you don’t always realize what it takes to be really good at it.