Friends, last night I fiiiiiinally started reading the The Fellowship of the Ring, and on the first page I was like “man, this hobbit history is pretty charming” and then by page 3 I was like “HOW MUCH HOBBIT HISTORY DO WE REALLY NEED FOR THIS” so that’s about where I’m at.
I also remembered that one time at church camp a youth pastor ruined the end of Fellowship for me by using it as a SERMON ILLUSTRATION and PLAYING THE DANG CLIP IN WHICH SPOILER ALERT BOROMIR DIES. SPOILER OVER. I was 12, a church kid, and [most pertinently] an oldest child, SO PARDON ME FOR NOT HAVING SEEN A PG-13 MOVIE YET. I just remember sitting there in the sweaty chapel thinking, “bruh, really?” And honestly that’s kind of my attitude as I crawl through the tiniest print on Middle Earth anthropology: “bruh, really?”
The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert
Jeez hella Louise. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this book was SO. FRICKIN. GOOD.
This book is a fairy tale, but more like the Grimm’s variety than the Disney. Albert understands how a story can draw you in (and sometimes not let you go), and is able to capture that beauty — often dark and troubling — in a fairy tale of her own. I read this book in about a day and every time my roommate walked into the room I just shouted “THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD, OMG” at her.
Plus, Albert’s imagery is often surprising in brilliantly simple ways: at one point she describes a character’s eyes as “the alert, shiny color of sunlight through Coke.”
OKAY. I’LL BE OVER HERE, HAVING FEELINGS ABOUT GOOD IMAGERY. Anyway, I don’t know if I can even ARTICULATE how much I liked this book or why without spoiling something, but if the cover and this description at all appeals to you, please read it and have these feelings with me.
Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer
In THIS case…it did not.
So I saw the movie Annihilation I think just a week after it came out, and went into it [like with CMBYN] knowing very little: just that it was a female-centered sci-fi movie that was very, very weird. And it was even WEIRDER than I imagined it would be and also I loved it a lot. The actors were incredible [seriously, how does Gina Rodriguez have THAT MUCH CHARISMA ALWAYS it’s superb], the filming was eerie and gorgeous, and the seriously bizarre sequence at the end was earned through the previous hour of restrained build-up. The second the credits started to roll, everyone in the theater was dead quiet for almost an entire minute and then everyone started talking at once and it was one of my favorite viewing experiences.
Knowing that it was based on the first book in a trilogy, I naturally wanted to read the book, even though I knew (via Twitter) that the book was significantly different. And it is. It’s SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT. I think they got the tone in the movie spot-on, but because the movie is so visually strong, it kind of interfered with my reading of the book, because I had a hard time not thinking about the imagery from the movie which was ALSO clashing with the story in the book. I’m still glad I read the book because I want to read the next two books in the trilogy, and I’m also going to see the movie again (and again and again and again because this is one that REALLY sticks with you).
Six Characters in Search of an Author – Luigi Pirandello
Maybe one of these days I’ll read a play and at the end of it think, “huh, I’m really glad I did that.”
So far, that hasn’t happened on this blog, but who knows what the future holds. Here are some [I would imagine] common steps to reading this play:
- Come for the meta observations on literature and the self.
- Stay because it’s actually kind of funny in spots.
- Possibly leave early because of the slight incest.
I mean, I did not leave early, but I would esteem the hell outta anyone who did. I don’t have much more to say, other than: this gif is relevant and I wish that it wasn’t:
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter – Erika L. Sánchez
And the end of this reading period bounced back with another book that I really enjoyed! The teenager at the center of Sánchez’s novel is an aspiring writer who feels out of place almost everywhere she goes, a feeling exacerbated by her grief over her older sister’s recent death and the expectations and rules of her family.
I loved spending time with Julia — the main character and narrator — and seeing the world through her eyes. The relationships between Julia and her family, her friends, her city [Chicago], and even her grief were thickly woven and full of delightful and sometimes heartbreaking details. This book is a testament to the writing principle that often it’s by being unafraid to get super specific to a particular experience that one creates works that have the most universal impact.
Oh also, since I try to give content warnings when possible: there are some brief discussions and retellings of sexual harassment/assault throughout the book, as well as some heavy depression content particularly in the latter half.
That’s all for this week, friends! By the by, just TODAY AS I WAS FINALIZING THIS POST a friend told me how much she’d been enjoying my recommendations and how she even read The Wedding Date in my suggested manner. I loved hearing this and would love to hear from you if these have been as fun for you as they have been for me! Feel free to reach out in the comments, through the “contact” form, or on Twitter! You can @ me @BookShouting or @kelswid. Have fun storming the castle* and try not to ruin PG-13 movies for rule-following 12 year olds!
*p.s. I stole this from one of my favorite podcasts, Impolite Company, who got it from The Princess Bride and I really love it.