READ: to look at and understand the meaning of letters, words, symbols, etc.
The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman
This story of Nobody Owens, a child raised by a cemetery full of ghosts, is delightful. I’ve been meaning to read another of Neil Gaiman’s books ever since The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I finally got to it. The way Gaiman creates such plausible fantasies – situations that are purely imagined but filled with vivid and real characters – totally captivates me as a reader.
Us by David Nicolls
Douglas is trying to save his collapsing marriage and connect with his teenage son during a family tour of Europe. Douglas isn’t doing so well. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a long time. I chortled my way through the short chapters; half-way through, I knew I would rave about the book regardless of if I liked the second half because the first half was good enough to make up for anything that came after. Thankfully, the book satisfied all the way to the end. I was sad to learn that I was the only woman in my book club that felt this way. Apparently, I take more joy in family dysfunction than the average Jane.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A troubled alcoholic watches out the window of the train and creates lives for the people in the houses she passes. Then, she becomes involved when one of them goes missing. This was the monthly pick for one of my book clubs. I was curious enough about what would happen next that I kept turning the pages, but it didn’t have the kind of suspense that makes a book impossible to put down. I found myself shaking my head at many of the characters and their choices but was mostly wiling to suspend my frustration in the service of curiosity. If you despise unreliable narrators you will despise this book.
The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster
Jen Lancaster is funny. This book about trying to be like Martha Stewart is funny, but forced. There are chuckles and places where her voice shines through but not as many as in her other books. As far as “did it for a year and wrote about it” books go, this certainly didn’t knock A.J. Jacobs’ A Year of Living Biblically out of first place for me.
Holes by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats blames his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather for his bad luck, including his unjust sentencing to a boys’ detention center where he spends all day digging holes. I read this Newberry Honor book aloud to Son (age 8) in anticipation of an upcoming stage production of this play at his school. He liked it. I liked it. There is enough mystery to keep you turning the pages and enough tying up of loose ends to make the end – where Stanley eventually digs up the truth – satisfying.
The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
A fortuneteller, an orphan with a missing sister, and an elephant all come together is this beautiful tale of longing and belonging. This was a fantastic read aloud and another winner from Kate DiCamillo – further enhancing my writer crush. A lovely blend of whimsy and enduring truth.