Books Read, August 2012

I utterly forgot to keep track of my reading in August. Some combination of travel and psychotic deadlines, I guess, but mostly just brain failure. What follows below is the stuff I can recall emember finishing; I want to say there was more, but if there was, I don’t remember it.

Team Human, Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. YA urban fantasy, with the tag line “Friends don’t let friends date vampires.” It’s actually less anti-vampire than that sentence would have you believe, though, which kind of disappointed me; I was in the mood for a book about how no, vampires aren’t just a different kind of human, and no, dating them is never going to be a good idea. It’s still a fun read, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

1861: The Civil War Awakening, Adam Goodheart. This is, in some ways, a Civil War book for people who aren’t very interested in the Civil War. Because it isn’t about the battles and so on, which is what you probably think of first if you say “I’m not very interested in the Civil War.” It is, instead, a social history of the attitudes in the lead-up to and early days of the war, and how certain ideas (like secession and abolition) moved from being nearly unthinkable to being inevitable. You may, from time to time, find yourself wanting to punch various historical figures in the face, but that’s their fault, not Goodheart’s. I found it highly readable.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg. One of several childhood favorites I picked up at a used bookstore. This one was slightly less cool than I remembered; the parts that involved hiding out in the museum were a smaller portion of the book than I remembered, and Claudia was a little more abrasive. But even when she was being abrasive, the book wasn’t setting her up as a snotty know-it-all who needs to be taken down a peg, which is what this character type usually gets, so I appreciated that. And, y’know, the idea of running away to hide out in a museum is still really cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Egypt Game, Zilpha Keatley Snyder. When I was a kid, books didn’t divide very cleanly into “fantasy/not fantasy” in my head — largely because of my tendency to read magic into things that didn’t actually have any. This was faintly true of the Konigsburg above, and far more so of this book. It still feels magical to me, even now, with the kids and their game, nevermind that there’s nothing actually supernatural in it. There is, however, startling diversity: the story takes place in southern California, and actually feels like it, with lots of non-white characters. I’d put it up there with The Westing Game for childhood books that turn out to have merits I never recognized at the time.

0 Responses to “Books Read, August 2012”

  1. Marie Brennan

    Thanks for the report! The title and subject did make me leery; it’s good to know Snyder handled it decently. I may check it out at some point.

  2. Marie Brennan

    Yeah, I think a lot of my habit in that direction owes itself to who I was reading. Snyder definitely facilitates it.

  3. shveta_thakrar

    It’s actually less anti-vampire than that sentence would have you believe, though, which kind of disappointed me; I was in the mood for a book about how no, vampires aren’t just a different kind of human, and no, dating them is never going to be a good idea. It’s still a fun read, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

    Agreed! I can’t wait to talk to you at Sirens about it. ๐Ÿ˜€

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