I've been having some fun with my summer reading this year. A number of the books I've read aren't things I can actually recommend, per se, but they've been interesting reads.
At an imp's recommendation, I read The Historian by
Elizabeth Kostova. Wow! Talk about a fascinating tale and told with such a
unique voice and approach! Yes, it's a vampire novel. And it's like no
vampire novel you have ever read! Well, I suppose it's somewhat similar
to Dracula. Classically vampiric, if you will. I enjoyed Dracula
when I read it a few years ago, but it definitely left me feeling a bit
woozy. Blood always makes me light-headed, and you can't have a proper
vampire novel without plenty of blood. Just a fact.
This book harkened back to Dracula, sometimes overtly. And it was a wonderful read as a result! No romantic-anti-hero-tortured love-interest vampires to be found in these pages. Absolutely not! (I feel about my vampires much the way I feel about my dragons--I find them more interesting when they're evil.)
I also read Beauty,
by Sheri S. Tepper. Another one I am NOT recommending, at least not to
younger, teenage readers. Some of you older readers might find it a compelling read, however. This author is truly talented and took me on a readerly
ride such as I have never before experienced. Beauty is a retelling
of many different fairy tales, but her handling of those tales was so
unique and well-crafted, I can honestly say I've never encountered
anything quite like it before. Some of her philosophy was inspiring,
some of it truly heartbreaking (but then you're unlikely to agree with any author about everything, so I'm not complaining). But whether or not I agreed with the author, I found her intelligent, thoughtful, and engaging. I expect to read this book again.
of these books were first person, which is unusual for me. My favorite
narrative voice is the omniscient narrative, and I tend to gravitate
that direction for my pleasure reading. Not that I have anything against first person or first person present tense or third person, etc.
They're just not my preference. But both of these were first person, and
I very much enjoyed them.
Currently I am reading Jonathan Stroud's Buried Fire out loud to my Rohan.
I had read it myself last spring and loved it, and it's just as good the
second time around. It may be technically a children's book . . . but
really, it's not. I would have been TERRIFIED by this book as a child!
Also, there is a rather shocking amount of language, particularly in a
book marketed for children. Nevertheless, it's a great read for YA . . . and for my husband and me. Stroud's take on dragons is totally unique.
Bartimaeous Trilogy several years ago . . . or rather the first book and a half in the Bartimaeous Trilogy. But I really wasn't a fan and thought, therefore, that I wasn't a Stroud fan. Turns out I was wrong. Not long ago I read Stroud's Heroes of the Valley, and it was SO GOOD. Probably my favorite of Stroud's work, and a book I do actually recommend to you. This one and Buried Fire are both omniscient narrative, and Stroud handles that narrative so beautifully! He really is a delight to read.
The Curse of Chalion is another book I have recently devoured . . . and another one, sadly, which I cannot officially recommend here, at least not to younger readers. Older (as in my age and up) women and men, however, might find it quite a fascinating read. My best friend recommend it to me, and while I wasn't certain I would like it based on the back cover write-up, I should not have doubted Erin. And, believe it or not, it's a third person narrative! I honestly do not tend to like the third person narrative and will often avoid a book written in that voice. (Again, nothing against it . . . just not suited to my palette.) But this one . . . well, I had read some Bujold before, and I knew she was good. I just hadn't realized how good until this book. Brilliant. I went out at once and bought my own copy, along with the sequel, Paladin of Souls (which is also a great read but not as great, in my opinion).
Would you believe that I write dragon books and yet I had, until recently, never read any Anne McCaffrey? Doesn't seem possible, does it? But my sister-in-law, Kristen, took that problem in hand and sent me her copy of Dragonsong, book 1 in the Harper Hall Trilogy. And I had to ask myself . . . why did it take me so long to get around to reading this??? It's a quick read, but full of dense and elegant world-building and a delightful take on dragons. Definitely a story I recommend to all of you, a timeless tale of young woman coming of age. Not an action-packed sort of story . . . but compelling in its own way. I think you all might really enjoy it.
Currently on my bedside table is an old, battered, paperback copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. I haven't read The Lord of the Rings since high school, and it has been quite an experience going back to it now--four years of English lit studies and seven novels later. My perspective on Tolkien and his work is very different from what it was at sixteen and seventeen. I think I was more awed by him then. I think I might appreciate him more now.
Rohan is reading The Two Towers. We decided to revisit Tolkien's work kind-of-together so we can talk about it along the way. He also hasn't read The Lord of the Rings since high school, and I can tell he is enjoying it tremendously! Last night we were discussing how every few pages the characters have to stop and sing a song or recite a poem. Rohan thought he might add some lines of his own . . . and this is what he invented on the spot:
There was a young man from Bath
Who strayed from the Mirkwood Path
He fell in with a spider
and attempted to fight her
But ended wrapped up in her wrath.
Probably not something Aragorn would quote. But Sam or Pippin might enjoy it! Either way, I think my husband is monstrously clever.
There have been other books this summer, but these were the fictional highlights . . . so far. We'll see what the rest of the summer might bring!