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Reviews, Congrats, and Virginia


Since the year is half over, I thought I'd recommend my three favorite books read thus far in 2010...

3. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (2010)
Normally this "soft SF" young adult novel might not have appeared on my radar, but it received such terrific reviews from readers I trust that I gave it a try. I'm so glad I did. This beautifully crafted story depicts a "Groundhog Day"-type scenario in which a teen girl relives the day of her death over and over again until she uncovers the mystery behind her final moments. In the process, she discovers the long-reaching and unintended consequences of her actions -- and inactions -- on those around her. This is a remarkable meditation on the power we have to affect each other's lives and to reinvent our own. What might have become trite or melodramatic in other hands becomes a restrained and powerful story about the human condition that can speak to readers of any age. (Incidentally, with its theme, this book was the perfect companion piece to the series finale of Lost.)

2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)
This elegant novel nests stories within stories and invokes the best of Gothic authors such as the Brontë sisters and Daphne du Maurier. When a troubled bookstore assistant is invited by England's eccentric and reclusive best-selling author to write the woman's biography, the young heroine learns not only about her subject's past, but also her own. This is not a ghost story, it's not a mystery, and it's not historical fiction, and yet it is all of these things, as well as a study of the tales we tell and why we tell them (or hide them, or embellish them, or deny them). It's also a lovingly atmospheric tribute to the great novels that shape, haunt, and inspire us.

1. The Disappearance by Philip Wylie (1951)
The Disappearance represents speculative fiction at its very best. What if, one day, all the women on Earth disappeared, leaving men alone -- and, on a parallel Earth, all men disappeared, leaving women alone? This novel traces the fate of both worlds, and in so doing questions the foundations of contemporary governments, religions, sexual politics, and even family structures. Wylie asks the big questions about the ways in which we've ordered society and the unexamined assumptions that undergird these arrangements, all the while drawing three-dimensional characters and compelling plotlines. Fifty-nine years after its original publication, it remains an utterly fascinating and thought-provoking read.


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* Thanks to all of you who've looked me up on Goodreads. If you haven't yet, please consider yourself invited!

* Hearty congratulations to Ann K. Schwader (ankh_hpl) for winning the Rhysling Award for Short Form Poem from the Science Fiction Poetry Association!

* Happy early birthday wishes to sunshinedew and knesinka_e. May you enjoy many happy returns of the day.

* From nakeisha:
If you want to play, post a picture in your LJ of your pet(s) happily snoozing away. New pets, long-time pets, former pets, cats, dogs, birds, snakes, ferrets, rats, fish, all are welcome. If you don't have a pet of your own, find a snoozy one on the Internet and adopt it for the day!

I never pass up an opportunity to post a picture of Virginia!

Virginia snoozing



"That's it! When people believe that what they believe is the immortal truth there's not much you can do. They're born clay with a lovely tendency to become statuary. But some aunt, some mother, a sister, a schoolmate, a church, soon grabs them and bakes them into mean little bricks. And the bricks made a nation. And every brick is faulty and crumbly. And when the pile gets high enough it collapses. Every single nation did; and now, the world."
- Dr. Paula Gaunt in the "women's world" in The Disappearance by Philip Wylie

Comments

( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
agentxpndble
Jul. 12th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
OMG, look at that adorable doggy! :::melts:::
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 12th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
Virginia and I thank you. :)
(Deleted comment)
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 12th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
Ah, perhaps I should've put that in better context. I just love the point about rigidity in thinking. In fact, that's a woman speaking to other women about the women's world, and how women were in part responsible for their position in it; it's an introspective moment. At this point in the book, men are quite out of the picture entirely. I assure you, men end up with a substantial helping of the blame for how humanity came to be as it is! (In fact, my students have been astounded at how contemporary Wylie's thinking seems to be at times, considering the date of the text.)

Edited at 2010-07-12 01:35 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
To be honest, I agree with you about being pre-equipped with character flaws. (Children, far from being sweet blossoms of innocence, can be the cruelest creatures there are!) So you've got me there. :)

The quote jumped out at me because what it said about rigidity of thinking: when there is no intellectual humility, but instead only dogmatism, it's hard to have a meaningful debate that can go anywhere. If someone's convinced he/she knows the whole truth for all humankind forever, that pretty well ends the discussion. And far from making a person strong, that kind of rigidity only makes one "faulty and crumbly." I liked the way that the character of Paula (who represents just one of many perspectives in the book) phrased that. But I'll admit I don't buy her perspective wholesale.

Edited at 2010-07-15 03:07 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
nakeisha
Jul. 12th, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
That's one sleepy dog.

So lovely.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 12th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you. She was indeed a sleepy girl!
ex_lbilover
Jul. 12th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Awww, Virginia! She's so cute. :)) Thank you for the book recs!
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 12th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) And you're most welcome - I hope they're useful.
peadarog
Jul. 12th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like very much the sound of "The Disappearance" -- probably a "pop" of some kind.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
It really is a fascinating book.
witchcat07
Jul. 12th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Ooh, the Thirteenth Tale! We read that in book club one month, and I think it is the one book I have loved the most that I did not pick myself. A little squicky in spots, but once you get past that it's excellent.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
What a great choice for a book club! I'm so glad you liked it, too.
clara_posts
Jul. 12th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Aww. What a cute, sleepy Virginia :o)
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) She's repeating that performance right now, as a matter of fact. Ha!
Abbie [wordpress.com]
Jul. 12th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
You've made those three books sound so. good. Stop! You're making me want to read! I'll add them to my reading list, but you know it takes me all summer long just to read one book! Ugh.

That reminds me, I've had Children of God on my list for a while... by the time I get around to it I will totally have forgotten everything about The Sparrow and will most likely call upon you to reenact the whole thing. I know you will not fail to deliver a flawless performance.

"...and, on a parallel Earth, all men disappeared, leaving women alone?"
Too much of a good thing... is bad. ;) *quietly adds it to the reading list*

Last but not least, Virginia! Cuuuute.
Quite a while ago I made a video of Ariel snoozing... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_Q2vwQfIqY


eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
What a fantastic video of Ariel! Thank you for sharing it with me.

Stop! You're making me want to read!

Mwahahaha! My evil plan, it is working...

Let me know if you need a refresher on The Sparrow. I'll be standing by. With sock puppets and a kazoo. :)

If you read The Disappearance, I'd love to know what you think of it!
jadepilot
Jul. 12th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
I've read the second one and I can't wait to try the other two you've suggested. Thanks!
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! I hope you enjoy them.
estellye
Jul. 12th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
Oh Virginia, what would we do without your cuteness?
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
:D
dodger_winslow
Jul. 12th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Virginia looks at once adorable and comfy.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you.
savageseraph
Jul. 13th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
AWWWWWWW!!! Peaceful Virginia in front of a peace lily. So cute!!! My sis just got a Frenchie puppy, and I was thinking about getting one too, a friend for Ripley, but she and the little girl puppy didn't get along.

I'm glad you mentioned Before I Fall. I've been picking it up at the bookstore over and over, but I've never followed through with buying it.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Frenchies are so adorable. And they have such attitude!

Before I Fall really impressed me. If you read it, I hope you like it, too.
curtana
Jul. 13th, 2010 04:36 am (UTC)
In a happy coincidence, The Thirteenth Tale caught my eye at the supermarket today and I picked it up, having remembered your review and craving something new to read. It was, so far as I could tell, the only copy they had, and just happened to be sitting on the corner of the table where I'd see it as I passed by, so I was lucky :) I'm probably 2/3 of the way through it already, and loving it. Thank you!
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! I love it when things like that happen. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. It's a great book to curl up with and devour.
gilda_elise
Jul. 13th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
Before I Fall sounds intriguing. I think I'll have to pick up a copy. :-)

And what an absolutely adorable picture! I think this is one meme I may actually have to play with.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I never would have read it if I hadn't seen glowing reviews from others, and now I'm so glad I did.

Thanks for your kind words re: Virginia! She's our little sweetheart.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, that mug is a hoot! Thank you so much for posting that. And thanks for the article link, as well - I'd seen it, but I had forgotten to post about it. I appreciate the memory jog! You always find such interesting things.
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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