Books

Olympics Book Tag!

Yes, another one. I know, but I’ve been having entirely too much fun watching Team USA reigning at Rio, and the icons (from Smashing Magazine) were just too cute! Thanks, It Starts at Midnight!

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That isn’t an actual cover (it’s a design by Annie Wu–she does the current Black Canary comics!) but the one I have is vaguely squicky, and I’m weirdly attracted to this illustration  and that kind of unsettles me–which I guess fits the book perfectly? Anyway, Lolita is one of my absolute favorite books. I actually shared the first page (with those killer opening lines) as my “favorite page of prose” in my Advanced Fiction workshop.

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Underrated YA with a great premise: devil-at-the-crossroads lore meets road trip, with music. A lovely story, with memorable characters at every step of Blue’s journey. It also deserves more attention for its portrayal of the real-world struggles of LGBT and homeless youth.

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I like love triangles best when they’re about more than Team This Guy vs. Team That Guy or are just really messed up. Beloved is masterful for a number of reasons, but the very weird and unsettling Sethe/Paul D/Beloved triangle–which is about more than just romantic love–is great, and I actually do think its resolution is one of the most genuinely romantic things I’ve read.

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I’ve tried, but I just can’t get into Virginia Woolf. I would like to revisit this someday, but I also struggled with Mrs. Dalloway, so maybe it’s just me?

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The cover is pulp gold, but story within is a small gem. I read this in one day and while it probably won’t be one of King’s classics, the nostalgic carnival setting really works, and the characters are unexpectedly memorable.

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Iris Chang’s notorious bestseller is an incredibly difficult book to stomach, but it’s absolutely required reading. My last workshop story dealt with the Nanjing Massacre, and turns out I’m not the only Chinese person in particular who can barely even stand to think about it (my Chinese History professor seemed to have a similar opinion.)

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Really only one big twist, but Agatha Christie is the Simone Biles of them.

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I don’t really cry while reading or watching movies. In fact, this is the only book that I remember physically crying at. (The only movie is Up, and the only song is Nina Simone’s cover of “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life.”) It’s very much an “issue” novel–about an 11-year-old girl meeting her mentally disabled uncle for the first time–but dammit, it got to me.

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I picked this book up completely on a whim from my college library because I liked the title. It’s one of those restrained novels that sneaks up on you, a quiet story about a Chinese girl growing up as an immigrant in 1960s Canada. I’m not counting the slow pace of the book against it though–in fact, it works (and hey, Chinese-Canadians!)

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I was actually pretty late to the Harry Potter train. My first favorite fantasy series was Children of the Red King; my dad randomly bought me book 3 from Costco. Revisiting the books, the plotting and world-building are a lot more haphazard than in J.K. Rowling’s, but I still love the idea of all the different endowments (and Uncle Paton might’ve been my first book crush). Book 6 was a disappointment, so I stopped after that, but last summer I finally finished the series. The plotting and world-building are still pretty haphazard, but to my pleasant surprise I did enjoy the final books!

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maus

I was never into dog or horse or talking animal books, so I struggled a bit with this category. I was on the fence about putting Maus at first, but honestly, it’s one of my absolute most recommended reads. Yes, it’s a graphic novel about the Holocaust that draws the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats (there are also American dogs, Polish pigs, etc.) But I honestly think it might be the most harrowing books about the Holocaust, and I’ve read quite a lot of them. There’s a whole lot more that I could say about this but seriously, just read it.

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I really did like the movie, despite the many things that are deeply troubling about it, but the racism here was so much more overt and offensive that it was honestly hard to read. The fact that it’s so damned long didn’t help; frankly (that was actually not intended) the beginning felt incredibly padded out, and later some of the conversations got kind of repetitive. I don’t regret reading it, mostly because of how much I like Scarlett O’Hara as an antiheroine, but to this day I’m nervous about thousand-page books.

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Like Esperanza Rising, I shamefully only read this this year for a Children’s Literature class. It was a really nice experience though–I finished it in a park on a really nice day when the sun was shining and dogs were running about (no, really). And oh my gosh, I really liked it. Charlotte! How I loved you! Again, this didn’t make me cry, but honestly, I was close!

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I’ve read even fewer books about sports than I have about animals (I seriously almost put The Catcher in the Rye on the grounds that Holden fences). But then I remembered–hey! Wild Swans! Ivy is a swimmer! No, this isn’t a “sports book”, but it would be a nice summer read. Incidentally, the Final Five have inspired me to keep an eye out for Megan Abbott’s new gymnastics-themed thriller, You Will Know Me. 

Having completed the tag, it occurs to me this was unexpectedly heavy, but great books and highly recommended reading! Feel free to get in on the tag if it strikes your fancy. And in the words of Johnny Cade, stay gold!

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