books books books

Just finished …

The Narnian by Alan Jacobs | This is a biography of the life and creativity of C.S. Lewis (my favorite!), and while it didn’t have as much Narnia in it as the title would suggest, it was still a fascinating read.  It was interesting to hear the timeline of the books– I have read quite a lot of Jack Lewis’s books, but I guess I’ve never really thought about at what time of his life they were written.  Did you know the Narnia series came much later on, toward his life’s end?  Those seven books have so deeply influenced my spiritual life; I couldn’t quit thinking about what would have happened if he’d died before they were written.  I mean, of course, we would have never known.  But it gave me this strange existential feeling to wonder what other books haven’t been finished because of early deaths, etc.  Sigh.  I trust God’s will.  Anyway, the other thing that was interesting to hear about was the answer to a question I have had for a long time about Jack’s marriage to Joy.  She was a divorced woman, and I always wondered what Lewis thought of that, as a man of the Word.  Interestingly, since Joy was divorced from a man who had previously been divorced, Lewis didn’t consider that Joy’s marriage had been legitimate (and therefore, her divorce had been null too).  What a fascinating man.  I loved him even more after reading this book.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman | This YA book was absolutely fascinating and thought-provoking in a GREAT way.  The novel takes place in the future, after the Heartland War, a fictional war between pro-lifers and pro-choicers.  After the Heartland War, it was determined that abortion was illegal, but instead, children would be raised, and between ages 13-18, parents could choose if they wanted to have the child “unwound”– their bodies dissected and ALL organs given for transplant (so, technically, the child never died, since no body part died).  This story is about three unwinds– Connor, a troublesome kid whose parents are fed up; Risa, a ward of the state who didn’t show enough talent; and Lev, a tithe, the tenth child of a religious family.  The author did a great job of making you think of both sides of the debate.  It was fascinating, shocking, and gruesome.  In fact, it included the most disturbing scene I’d read since A Clockwork Orange.  Loved this book, which is the first in a series that I intend to pursue.

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta | My most-anticipated book of 2012!  I was so eager to read this book (the final book of the Lumatere Chronicles trilogy) that I ordered an Aussie copy rather than wait for the March 2013 US release date.  I loved it– but not as much as the first two books (Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles).  The writing was masterful (as always), and I deeply cared for the characters, who are real and flawed and passionate.  The thing that was hard for me was that I really enjoyed the interactions in book #2 between Froi and Quintana, and in this third book, they are separated, so I missed that.  A lot.  Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book, plowing through it.  As far as I’m concerned, Marchetta can’t write a bad book.  I’m already thrilled for her to put something else out.  Patience, grasshoppah.

Meditations by Rene Descartes | As research for my YA book, Truest, I have been researching Descartes and his dream argument, reading from biographies and books that summarize his positions/thoughts, but– although I was understanding things– I still felt outside of his ideas.  I decided to just bite the bullet and climb inside of them.  Reading Meditations reminded me of my writing theory and ethics class in college, where I would just try to catch the thesis amidst all the verbiage.  I can tell that I’m growing because this book was easier for me to understand.  I will say that I am not used to having to re-read something to understand it; it was a long-forgotten experience from undergrad that I had to dig up while reading this.  All said, it is fascinating.  It is essentially Descartes’s proof that God exists, so … no small task.

A few late reviews …

The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger | I decided to read this after I’d read and enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Niffenegger manages to weave an incredible tale of time travel (which is pretty much always interesting, if done well), love, and romance.  I can see why she was offered a ton of money for a second book after this one, which is essentially the love story betweeen Clare and Henry– Henry, who hops back and forth from real time to the past and to the future.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher | A super interesting book about 16-year-old Gemma, who is abducted at the airport– but whose abductor is kind, gentle, loving, although kinda crazy.  It’s an interesting twist on the kidnapping story: what happens when the kidnapper is not exactly the bad guy?

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick | First book in a series that I didn’t continue.  This is the story of a fallen angel loving a regular teenaged girl.  To me, it was average paranormal romance (which is not exactly my favorite genre in the first place).

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater | Another paranormal romance, another series I discontinued after book one.  This time the regular teenaged girl is in love with a werewolf named Sam.  (What does it mean if a book makes you think that Twilight is good and original?)

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac | Wow.  Wowowowow.  This is Kerouac’s account of his time spent at a cabin in Big Sur, where he is deteriorating mentally and physically from alcohol.  This was maybe the scariest account of alcoholism I’ve ever read … also fascinating.  Eye-opening.  A very good read.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy | When my former co-worker Kyle read this book four times in a row, I figured I’d better get my own copy.  A riveting but horrifying story about a father and son in post-apocolyptic America.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko | An interesting children’s story about a family growing up on Alcatraz Island.  The sister has autism, but the story is set in a time when very, very little was known about the autism spectrum.  Very interesting, very well-written children’s book!

Currently reading …
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (yes, again— I’ve decided that, starting January 1st, I’m going to track my Narnia reading for a year!)

Up next …
The Casual Vacancy by Jo Rowling
Everyday by David Levithan

Any suggestions?  I also recently purchased Divergent by Veronica Roth but haven’t brought myself to start it yet.