Paper: An Elegy by Ian Sansom: This was another two-for-one challenge, as it was the book I last acquired (at the moment I planed my TBR, anyway), and the author has the same first letter of his last name as me. As the title suggests, this book is all about paper and its many uses throughout history; in the introduction, the author describes the book as a kind of “paper museum.” Each chapter has a different theme or use for paper: there is a chapter on books, a chapter on money, origami, architecture, advertizement, etc. The chapters were hit-or-miss with me, depending on the theme. Some of them had me really engrossed and were consistently interesting, but others had me fading in and out of interest, sometimes with long stretches of boredom. However, I would say about 80% of the book was enjoyable…if you have a tolerance for pretentious academics. The author often would use phrases like “everybody knows that…” followed by something that NOBODY knows. He would also go on long parenthetical tangents quite often, which got tedious. In the intro, he even admitted that he ignored a lot of his editor’s advice, which I’m sure would have included cutting down on the tangents (and maybe less assuming that his audience is as brilliant and cultured as he is). 3/5 stars
Drama by Raina Telgemeier: Not originally on my TBR, I bought this book because I wanted something fun and light for Kristina Horner‘s sprint session (which was THE BEST, btw), and because I was reading another book that I needed a break from (which you will read about below). Drama is a YA graphic novel about a middle school play, the heroine being a member of the stage crew. I loved this book so much because the artwork was vibrant, and of course, it was a bit of a nostalgia trip for a theater kid. Laugh-out-loud funny at times, it has all the “drama” you would expect in a middle school theater, but not at all annoying. Overall really fun read! 4/5 stars
Child of God by Lolita Files: By this point I had finished all of my challenges (except the 7 book challenge), so I decided to ask another friend what her favorite book was. And boy howdy, was I shocked. Have you ever read a book that someone else recommended to you and thought: “HOW can this be _______’s favorite book??” Now I have. I am not saying that it was a bad book. It was actually a very good book. Engaging, and at times I could not put it down. However, it did also make me want to take a shower and watch a Disney movie after every 50 pages or so. I even went and got another book (Drama, above) to read in order break up the copious amounts of violence, incest, rape, drugs, murders, etc. that characterized this book. The story is about a black family from Tennessee and takes place mostly in the 1960s, but often flashes back to the 40s in order to track their whole messed-up family history. If you like intense reads that keep your face glued to the page, you’ll love it. With extremely complex relationships and a strange connection to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” it’s a harrowing look into the life of a struggling family, and I consider myself extremely lucky to read it from a position of having never experienced anything the characters must face. Not for the faint of heart, but a gripping, and harrowing read. 3/5 stars
Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five by Neil Gaiman: So there’s a story behind this one. I recently read an article in which Neil Gaiman admitted to writing a biography of Duran Duran…the book he wish he’d never written. I mentioned this article to an incredible person who ended up surprising me with a copy of the very book…something extremely hard to find, as the article mentions. So of course, I had to read it. I really don’t have too much to say about it other than I now know way more about Duran Duran than I ever wanted or needed to know. As for Gaiman, the book definitely was written by a young, inexperienced author, but it’s a bio of an 80s pop band, how poorly written can it be when we are talking Gaiman? At some points he tried to include humor, which failed due to the tone (or lack thereof) of the rest of the book. The funniest parts for me where the analyses of Duran Duran’s songs and music videos, because I knew Neil Gaiman didn’t ever give a crap about Duran Duran and was totally bullshitting.
And that’s all 8! I had such a great time participating this year and I am looking forward to the next one!