What better way to spend Winter Break than by reading? I haven’t been doing a lot of it, in light of the fact that I’m taking three literature classes next semester and don’t want to overdo it. However, I’ve been enjoying some fun, light reads!
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This book has been on my radar for a LONG time. It didn’t disappoint. Rowell creates a marvellous coming-of-age story about Cath, a fandom-obsessed introvert transitioning to college. I related to Cath on so many levels. Although my own fan-fiction efforts (culminating in an unfinished novel-length fic and several short one-shots) died out after a few years, I’ve been knee-deep in fandom culture since I was fourteen. Fangirl is your typical teen-lit novel in many ways. There’s love, family drama, a weird roommate, and lots about what it means to be a writer. It’s a fast read and a fun one.
Yulin Kuang, a filmmaker and co-creator of the YouTube channel Shipwrecked, filmed a scene from Fangirl, featuring the incredible Mary Kate Wiles. Definitely check it out! (And check out her other videos as well–they’re incredible.)
Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
This is the fourth massive novel in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Honestly, it was my least favorite. I understand that one of the great things about these books are the depth of historical content, from larger political events to the tiny details of everyday life… but I thought she got carried away. The first half dragged. I think Gabaldon spent too much time with Jamie and Claire. The Bree and Roger bits, for me, were the most compelling. I would slog through 200 pages of Jamie/Claire story just to get to the twenty pages about Roger. I think that the story could have been much stronger and more compelling if she had spent more time developing the younger generation. Because, when major events began happening halfway through the book bringing all the characters together, I found myself not caring. Why? Because I wasn’t invested enough in Bree and Roger to actually care. All in all, although the story is interesting, the character development was misplaced and underdone and the plot needs MAJOR tightening. Because this book was so disappointing, it’s going to be a while before I work up the desire to finish the series.
Any Anxious Body by Chrissy Kolaya
Since its release last Spring, I’ve wanted to read this collection of poetry. Chrissy is a professor at my college and I’ve had the opportunity to take several of her classes. She was my guide in the basic freshman writing class. A year ago, I had the opportunity to be in her Innovative Creative Writing class. The class taught me that I don’t want to write creatively for a living (or for pleasure, for that matter), but gave me a deeper appreciation for those who do. It’s always fun reading the published work of people you know, and I adored Any Anxious Body. I’m not much of a reader of poetry collections, so I don’t really know what to say beyond the fact that I really enjoyed the work.
Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey
This is a book I will be re-reading all my life. I’ve had my copy for about six years and have probably read it at least five times since then. It’s a quick read–I usually breeze through it in a day or so. It’s simplistic, easy, aimed at a lower reading level. But, oh, how I adore it. If you’ve been with me on this blog for a while, you will know that I adore a good Cinderella adaptation. Before Midnight fits the bill. It’s simplistic, the characters are pure of heart without being overbearing, and centered on the power of wishes and value of love. Dokey does a masterful job weaving elements of the fairytale with a story of her own–one that is new, fresh, and engaging. At the end of the book, Dokey talks about the research that went into her retelling. She discovered several old versions of the story where Cinderella’s didn’t die, but merely dropped from the story, submissive to the stepmother. Dokey says, “If Cinderella’s father is still alive, but takes no action to save or protect her, what mights this say about both him and the woman to whom we are all accustomed to assigning the role of the bad guy? What would happen if I put a father back into the story?” Other questions I’m sure Dokey asked regarding her adaptation are: What if political intrigue factored into the plot? What if the stepmother wasn’t cruel? What if Cinderella’s new family learned to love her?
Next time I do one of these posts, I’ll be knee deep in academia. Assigned reading, here I come.