I have been so excited to wrap up December’s haul for so many reasons! For one, I have accrued quite a bit of late fees on this haul. I should have made returning my books on time part of my New Year’s Resolution. I also read SO MANY good books, I couldn’t wait to write about them. Finally, I was gifted a few books over the holidays, which I’m pretty jazzed to start reading them.
So here we go!
December’s Library Haul
Paper Towns, John Green
John Green has quickly ascended to the role of my favorite human alive. Not familiar with John? He wrote The Fault In Our Stars and does Mental Floss videos. I mean, he’s so much more than that, but I think the journey of discovering John Green is half the fun. I had to travel to the teen section of the library (womp womp womp) to find John. People, I paved the way to the teen section so you, as adults, (or at least people older than 19) can travel forth without fear of embarrassment. Paper Towns is getting turned into a movie and should be in theaters around June of this year. I finished this book in a day. An easy, quick, enjoyable read. For being a man in his 30’s, John really captures what youth feels like. Or felt like. He creates this really vivid world that his characters live in. Gives them their own culture that is as unique as the adventure he sends them on.
Margo, one of John’s main characters, is this high school girl, the epitome of cool, always going on some adventure that borders on being illegal. She is her own brand of weird and captivates the general high school populous. There’s something about Margo that is so captivating but you can’t ever put your finger on her because she’s a bit of a mystery. That’s really a huge thing in the book, the mystery of Margo.
It feels like I’ve seen movies where the girl is the love interest to a dude who mainly wants her because of the way he sees her, as a mystery. Usually in those movies, it’s never about the girl. It’s about the guy wanting the girl. John Green takes you through that sort of cliche but makes this really awesome point that Margo is a mystery because she doesn’t want to be a mystery for the sake of anyone else.
Margo plays a huge part in the book, but I’d say the book is more about friendship than romance. Also, Radar is my favorite character.
The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, Robin Harvie & Stephanie Meyers
Okay, I only now realized that this book was edited by Stephanie Meyers. You know, the author of the Twilight series. Yeesh I feel like I’m late to my own party. So a little disclaimer: I do not identify as an atheist. Not that it matters. I get to be a bit of a grinch around Christmas time and it always makes me feel better when I have someone to grinch with.
I only got halfway through this book before Christmas was over. After that, I guess I didn’t need the book anymore.
I did enjoy reading it. Some of the pieces on how to celebrate the holidays were funny. But other were legitimately thought provoking. They questioned holiday traditions and how they tied into religion and there were some sections about science too. Some sections were a bit zaney, but I wasn’t reading to be converted, just reading to experience a non-Christmas crazed world.
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (not pictured)
This has been one of my favorite books to date (even after all my John Green rambling). When Roxane Gay writes, it’s like what I imagine having an older sister is like. Her writing kneels down, so she’s on your level, and explains these big concepts that aren’t easy to pin point, by coloring them in with flawed, human stories. That’s kind of her take on feminism. Her collection of essays are framed around the concept that feminism and feminist icons get put up on a pedestal but as soon as that icon slips up, we tear her down and count it as a set back to the feminist movement instead of letting that icon be flawed and human. Roxane analyzes really up to date pop culture topics, like as recently as 2013. You don’t have to scratch your head to remember what thing in the news she’s talking about.
That is, unless you wait too long to heed this book recommendation.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green & David Levithan
More John Green! And some other guy. So if Paper Towns was a trip down TeenMemoryLane this book takes you to Teen Memory City USA. I loved this book even though it was almost too teen for me. There are some really angsty teens and a decent portion of the book is written in the form of AOL messages.
Every other chapter is written from the perspective of a Will Grayson (there are two, as the title suggests). My friends who haven’t read John Green assume all his books will make them cry an ocean thanks to The Fault in Our Stars. I feel partially responsible for making sure they get the right impression of John, though really, how could you go wrong. So I shy away from recommending this as the first read.
My Custom Van, Michael Ian Black
I said in the last Haul post, I would mention more of MIB’s accolades. Even though I’m tired and it’s almost 2 am, after reading two books by MIB, I know his ego would love to read, even from a miniscule blog such as my own, about how great he is. Michael Ian Black has acted in movies like Wet Hot American Summer, the Baxter, and the E! show, Burning Love. He starred in a show on Comedy Central called Michael & Michael Have Issues (linked to my favorite skit). He was also in the comedy trio Stella.
In My Custom Van, MIB is present in almost all off the chapters. Always asserting himself into hypothetical situations like, how he would explain why he colored his dick with highlighter yellow sharpie. But he’s not present in the same way as in his second book. Again, a funny book though. A lot of the jokes hit their stride from lasting longer than you expect them to.
I should have read the first book first! You’re Not Doing It Right was equally funny, but better. Because in his second book, you get to know Michael as a person, not just as the jokes. I mean, you always get jokes, you just get so much more in his second book. You see his struggles and flaws. It’s like, why would you only want part of a person, once you’ve had the whole hilarious, messy thing?
The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby
As I described in the first Haul post, part of my book selection involves wandering through the library, picking books at random. What are the chances I would pick a book about reviewing books. I had no idea until I started reading it either. It’s like the the strings of my fate & destiny are thinly strung throughout the Akron-Summit Library.
Nick Hornby is a British columnist who writes about all the books he’s bought and the ones he’s managed to read. His column wasn’t always just about the book review. It was more about the journey he went on with the books and how the book fit into his life. I hope that reading his book has somewhat rubbed off on my reviewing skills.
One of my favorite things that Nick said was, “we are never allowed to forget that some books are badly written; we should remember that sometimes they’re badly read too.”
I try to remind myself of that when my mind starts wandering from the page and before I know it, I’ve finished a chapter without retaining anything, but having completely thought out a message I’m going to send on OKCupid. I made sure to go back and reread his chapters that I glossed. I probably wouldn’t recommend this to most people, even though I learned from this book and got a lot of his recommendations for future reads. BUT if you do check The Polysyllabic Spree out from the Akron Summit Library and you find a book whose pages 15-18 don’t want to stay attached to their spine, you’ll know that our strings of destiny & fate briefly overlapped.
One Way to Write Short Stories
As I mentioned in the last Haul post, I didn’t finished this book. Something else Nick taught me: It’s okay to abandon some books.
January will be a little different. The load is a little lighter and didn’t involve going to the library. A few lovely people gifted me my next haul!
As always, If you’ve read any of the haul, let me know what you thought! Got a recommendation for something you think I’d like? I want to know!
BONUS: My AOL screen name was Blink182helen. What was yours?