My Fall 2009 Reading ListNew entries will be posted at the top.Oops. I never updated the posting -I had 7 more books to post for Falland 12 books I read over the summer -but now I don't remember what they were.I usually giveAuthor, Title, Year of PublicationBrief summary & ratingGenre, Length, Dates I read the book
May Sinclair The Three Brontës (1912)
Sinclair expanded on an essay she wrote about the literary sisters to write this book. Her main goal: to “clear the rubbish” that had accumulated around them. Among other things, she wanted to show that the sisters’ genius came from within them. Having remained single herself, she was outraged by theories that Charlotte’s books were inspired by a failed romance. Sinclair’s work makes me want to read Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Villette again … right now.
Nonfiction, literary analysis. 247 pages. 11/20-21.
May Sinclair The Three Sisters (1914)
Not necessarily connected to Sinclair’s work with the Brontë sisters, the novel tells the story of three young women and their Parson father who have moved to the English countryside, where there is only one suitable bachelor. In a time when marriage was women’s only real option for a “career,” the girls struggle with the situation. Sinclair’s work makes the radical suggestion that not marrying is better than marrying the wrong person, even if this means a girl will be an unwed mother.
Realistic fiction. 388 pages. 11/21-28.
Geraldine Brooks People of the Book (2008)
An Australian book conservator travels to Sarajevo in 1996, where the war is not quite over, to work on an ancient Jewish haggadah whose tiniest clues help her reconstruct the book’s history. Following the book through the centuries enables the reader to learn about the complicated interplay of religion, freedom and prejudice that led to modern horrors like the Holocaust and war in the former Yugoslavia. I ought to get back to May Sinclair but I am having trouble putting this one down. This one is definitely added to my WWII PCR list for students. Warning: several disturbing moments.Realistic fiction/Historical fiction. 372 pages. 11/21-25.Margaret Atwood The Year of the Flood (2009)Post-apocalyptic America has only two survivors that we know of. Their stories of the present and the years leading up to the flood are woven together. Absolutely awesome novel by one of our best writers. Futuristic dystopia is my favorite genre. I read another book so this one wouldn't be over too quickly.Science fiction. 450 pages. 11/7-10 & 14-16.Neil Gaiman Fragile Things (2006)
Gaiman’s second collection of short pieces, including a novella. Range of types and lengths. I listened to an audio recording by Gaiman himself while driving. Gaiman is an excellent reader, with a range of character voices and accents. These stories are so good, 6 CD's in, I went back to the beginning. Highlights: Sherlock Holmes/Lovecraftian mystery; “October in the chair.”Urban fantasy. 9 CD's; 10+ hours. 9/8—10/1 and 10/20-11/17.May Sinclair A Journal of Impressions of Belgium (1915)Sinclair, a major British novelist, traveled to Belgium during WWI with a British Field Ambulance. This book is her account of seeking and aiding patients. I am re-reading this book as part of my Master’s work in a course called “Unpublished Histories.” Sinclair was only in Belgium for about two weeks, yet her sometimes poetic and always carefully wrought descriptions convey the feeling of the war: refugees, wounded soldiers, and the fear of medical staff facing German troops’ arrival.Memoir. 293 pages. 11/1-17
Neal Shusterman Unwind (2007)In a future USA, teenagers who displease their parents can be “unwound;” they are still considered to be alive if all their organs are donated to others. Three teens scheduled for unwinding try to avoid this fate. Shusterman masterfully uses third person narration close to various different characters. Excellent novel a student recommended to me, and I am so glad she did.YA. Science fiction. 335 pages. 11/11-14.
Miriam Toews The Flying Troutmans (2008)A 28 year old woman tells of caring for her hospitalized sister’s children. Well-crafted first person narration intersperses current plot with family stories, so the reader gets a full sense of their history. Publishers Weekly compared it to the movie Little Miss Sunshine.Not YA but very YA-friendly. Realistic fiction. 274 pages. 11/4.Heather King Parched (2005)King reflects on years of alcoholism, insightfully pointing out her own faults and blind spots. Although it was good reading, I have only vague memories a month later.Memoir. 276 pages. 10/25-27.
Patricia McCormick My Brother’s Keeper (2005)Toby tries to play caretaker for his brothers and mother in Dad’s absence, but they make it hard. Philosophical gems. I bought three of the author's novels after meeting her at a teachers’ event, and all three are great.YA. Realistic fiction. 187 pages. 10/23-24
Brian K. Vaughan Pride of Baghdad (2006)Fiction based on the true story of four lions who escaped from a zoo during the 2003 invasion of Baghdad. Vaughan develops layered characterization based on the lions’ different life experiences, and Niko Henrichon illustrates beautifully. Excellent work, seeking the company of Maus and Persepolis.Graphic novel. 136 pages. 10/21.
Patricia McCormick Cut (2002)A teenager in a residential treatment center she calls a loony bin tells why she is there. I bought the book after meeting the author at a teachers’ event. Award-winning novel in the The Catcher in the Rye tradition.Young adult. Realistic fiction. 151 pages. 10/18-22.