Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hannada Reads (Like Canada Reads).

Today in my teenage angst, I've discovered that my favorite thing to write about is books; and pop culture. But mostly books. Its the most prevalent thing in my life and the nature of stories tends to fit with my excitable personality. Furthermore, they foster community built upon shared interest. Which is probably my favorite thing in life.

This year I've titled my end-of-the-year-books-post 'Hannada Reads' because I think I'm hilarious and will never actually be able to blog about Canada reads because I don't read those kinds of books.
Hannada Reads - created on PicMonkey
I read 25 books this year, which seems about right considering the overwhelmption of both my winter and fall semesters. The titles are in bold, linked to their pages on Goodreads. The letters in brackets indicate the type of book - (GN) = Graphic Novel, (AF) = Adult Fiction, (JF) = Juvenile Fiction, (YF) = Youth/Young Adult Fiction, (ANF) = Adult Non-Fiction. I've only given reviews and critiques on the ones that were super groundbreaking and/or I super loved. But as always, I recommend all of them. I know it would be a more well-rounded list if there were books on it that I didn't like, but somehow that doesn't seem to happen to me. So here we go.

Calling Dr. Laura – Nicole Georges (GN)
        While reading this book, I couldn’t leave these characters alone. I continually found myself wishing I could spend time with them. Weeks later, I keep thinking about Franny, her friends, and her world wishing they were a twelve season tv show. This is what I love in a book. Way to go, Lauren. Please do more.
            Never before has there been such a simultaneously compelling and horrifying character. Set in 1930’s railway pioneering America, I kept thinking there was no reason I should enjoy this book so much; but like a piece of cake in front of me, I couldn’t not devour it.
            I hated this book in the very best way. Finalist for The 2008 National Book Award, Tim Tharp tells this story in a very colloquial and subsequently relatable manner. The complexities of Sutter and Aimee’s relationship are maddening, as is Sutter’s inability to grow and change. I felt a little hallow after, but I was better for it.
            Gimme some eat it up world building. I talk a lot about enjoying books like food because my love for each is pretty much equal. Set in a small dystopian world surrounded by an unsolvable Maze, a group of boys work to survive without losing their minds. Put together, these characters are explosive and the nature of the story differentiates it from the onslaught of other dystopian worlds found in YA today. Pure win.
            Mo Jo!!! I love Maureen Johnson. I love her. She’s hilarious, she’s weird, she can dabble into the mystic without batting an eye. For instance, this story’s lead character can see dead people. I, the reader, immediately forgot that wasn’t an actual thing. The thriller aspect of this Mo Jo work was new and entirely welcome. This is part one of the Shades of London Trilogy.
            Part Two of the Shades of London Trilogy. Can I have part three now, please???
Friends With Boys - Faith Erin Hicks (GN)
            I love David Levithan. Everything I see with his name on it gets an automatic stamp; and I like to think that when it comes to YA, my stamp is golden – no, titanium. Levithan tends toward teen romance, but specializes in collaborative authorships like no one else. Not having read anything of Cremer, I had no idea what I was in for. The story starts out centered on the romance, as expected, and then BAM – fantasy. What a perfect surprise. Thank you, David.
            Scott Westerfeld introduces, in this series, another example of perfection in dystopian world building. This governmental power sees our differences in appearance to be at the root of the world’s problems. An equalizing surgery is developed to literally erase the differences between us. Cut to miscreants, cut to insurgents, cut to romance, cut to a superb cliff hanger that left me scrambling for the next book.
            An amazing follow up to Uglies.
            A terrible finish to the trilogy. Whyyyy!?!??!
            I’ve apparently gotten to the age when the people doing amazing things are younger than I am. Veronica Roth was born a year and three months after I was and has accomplished this. I did a pretty cool paint by numbers a few days ago. Divergent is set in post-world-collapse Chicago and centers on a society separated into value-based factions (intelligence, bravery, selflessness, truth-telling, and kindness). There are those, however, who don’t fit into one prescribed faction. Beatrice Prior is one such individual, and like many strong, female characters before her, she ignites a revolution – based on her skill and strength of spirit – and changes the world.   
            Follow up to Divergent. You read it because you have to. And you love it.
            Final book in the trilogy. I was satisfied. I shed some tears – though not as much as some. An eleven year old ruined it for me, so I knew what was coming. If I hadn’t, I’m sure it would have been an ocean of emotion. Yeah I did.
Hokey Pokey – Jerry Spinelli (JF - though should be AF)
           This book was unbelievably beautiful. Prose, at its best. This is not, however, a children's book. The complexity of the language, and the way he nuances every emotion, took all of my adult reading faculties to comprehend. If I was a ten year old reading this, I wouldn't have made it past the first chapter. I love Jerry Spinelli with all my heart and I would consider this book a true success in prosaic literature about children. Perhaps, though, it is not necessarily for children.
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn (AF) My fourth (CHECK IT! FOURTH) adult book this year. I expanding. I am.
           This book was recommended to me by my college roommate; like a year ago. Since then I've watched it circ a hundred and fifty times in and out of the library. Magically it was on the shelf when I was pulling my Christmas reads. I got hooked immediately in the worst way. It was just like when I read The Hunger Games. When I was reading it I wished I wasn't. I kept looking ahead, needing to know what the characters were going to do. When I wasn't reading it, I questioned why. The more I read, the sooner I could finish and know what was going on. It was the perfect book. It was so confusing, but consistently led you to believe you understood. It was suprising, but not in the way that overwhelmed you; rather it drove the story forward. Ultimately, it was so sad and so novel. I was most satisfied with the ending. In line with the rest of the story, it was an unresolved, ethically ambiguous end. Everything about this book was exactly as it should have been. 
Forever – Maggie Stiefvater (YF)
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell (YF)
           I absolutely did not ever anticpate to love a teen love story so much. Don't shoot me, but I think I love Eleanor and Park's relationship even more than I love Gus and Hazel's relationship. The absolute best thing about this book is that it's written in third person. Rainbow!!! How much can I thank you for writing this in third person!?!?!?! The second best thing about this book is that Eleanor and Park develop their relationship organically, over time, and in a unique context. Their histories are complex and well-developed - again, enabled by the third person narrative. I am in love with Rainbow for building such perfect characters and such a perfect story.

So let's read, guys! And let's talk about it. Because reading matters. And books matter. And stories matter. Thats the most important part. Stories matter. The more we understand that stories themselves matter, the more we might come to understand that our stories matter too. 

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