One time, I had a reading blog! It was this one! And then I forgot about it! For a long time! Because no one reads it!
But that’s okay.
This year so far:
1. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
2. The Dead Travel Fast, Eric Nuzum
3. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
4. Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
6. The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
7. Ladders to Fire, Anaïs Nin
8. At Large and At Small, Anne Fadiman
9. You Shall Know Our Velocity, Dave Eggers
10. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
11. A Year in Provence, Peter Mayles
12. Villette, Charlotte Brontë
13. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (in progress)
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (since it is apparently the Year of Gaiman here, good Lord)
Ladders To Fire by Anaïs Nin
Book #4: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this book for the first time last year, on the train to and from my job in Salt Lake City. I’m sad to say that I maybe didn’t love it quite as much this time around. As with The Dead Travel Fast, I had a hard time not cracking up in the middle of my commute, especially during the Italy parts. I remember being so sad when the Italy section concluded, and a little bored for the rest of the book, amused at her struggles with meditation in India and with real estate in Indonesia. It shocked me this time that I found the Italy section a little boring and fluffy, and that the India section became fulfilling and wonderful. It’s a sign of how much my life has moved around since the last time I read this book, I think.
Though I strongly feel at times that Gilbert’s spiritual journey is a little bit written for the benefit of being written— as if she lives her life like a book so she can write a book about it— there are enough genuine moments that I found myself inspired in spite of sometimes wanting to reach through the pages and ask her politely to be a little less hokey. There were pieces of the book, among the wonderful information and the real experiences, that made me want to pinch the bridge of my nose and sigh with exasperation. I’m still trying to put a finger on why it bothered me, but I just think I have little patience when people romanticize spiritual experiences to such a degree. Despite that, I think I have something to learn from Ms. Gilbert’s real open-heartedness and her willingness to seek out her own spiritual path.
For being a book about real life, however, the ending (in fact, the whole Indonesia section) were a little too perfect a wrap-up for my tastes: sailing off into the sunset with her newfound hottie Brazilian boyfriend. It seemed to imply that if you seek your soul and find it, you’ll find a new man! And life will be perfect after that! It did get under my skin, but this time I found the India section fulfilling enough that I was willing to forgive some other foolishness.
I would cautiously recommend this— it truly is like reading someone’s journal or a letter from a dear friend, and though you may not love her all the time, there are pieces where you really truly will want to talk to her about all this.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
On the Soon Shelf:
Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Ladders To Fire by Anaïs Nin
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Book #3: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The beginning of this one chilled me to my bones. Why is Neil Gaiman so good? His prose is nothing fancy, his metaphors are pretty everyday, and yet. And yet. I can’t ever satisfactorily explain why I think Gaiman is a genius; after a long bout of trying, I invariably shove a copy of one of his books at a friend and just say, “Read it. You just have to read it.”
The exposition and resolution were a little slipshod, not what I’m used to from Gaiman, but the book more than made up for it with complete charm and no shortage of creepiness. It’s a beautiful, eerie coming-of-age story. I remember reading that Gaiman cites Bod as a hero very close to his heart, and it’s easy to see why. The ending caught me a little bit and I was surprised that I cried.
Coraline still remains my favorite of Gaiman’s stories for his younger audience, but The Graveyard Book is a close second.
(On a more personal note: acknowledgements in a Neil Gaiman book are like that really delicious kind of fudgy chocolate cake after the best meal you’ve had in a long time. Don’t worry that you had the flu and didn’t get any writing done in Tori Amos’s house, Neil, I’m sure she didn’t mind. Oh, Moby read your manuscript? Did he like it? Ho-hum, another day graveyard-walking with Audrey Niffenegger. This might not mean anything to you, but Neil Gaiman and Audrey Niffenegger know eath other. THEY KNOW EACH OTHER. I don’t know how the universe didn’t explode. I don’t know how the universe managed to stay together through Tori and Neil. My brain didn’t. MY GOD HOW COOL IS THAT. /fangirl)
Book #2: The Dead Travel Fast by Eric Nuzum
I first read this in bits and pieces during my commute on the train last year and often had to smother my laughter or quit reading. On a second reading, I found it even funnier. I swear to God that Eric Nuzum has no shame genes. He is ruthless. He went to the ends of the earth for this book, from Transylvania to a Hollywood museum in a tiny house, from PoliGrip to a vampire striptease in a goth club. It’s a great piece of light reading, a good starting place for people who are interested in vampires (and especially their influence on pop culture). There were a few editing problems, and even after a second read I still feel like the author goes on tangents, but he always ties up his loose ends.
I only wish Nuzum had started his research a couple years later. I bet he has a whole hell of a lot to say about Twilight.
Book #1: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
There is no one like Neil Gaiman to fully submerge you into a world. What I wouldn’t give to see his notes on Neverwhere (if they ever existed/still exist). Every time I read this book, I end up wanting footnotes a la Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to explain the obscure pieces. (Why are the Shepherds dangerous? Who DOES initially decide where the Floating Market is held? Tell me everything about the Marquis! Why is Serpentine’s relationship with Hunter so weird? Where did Hunter even COME from? etc)
Despite all this, Neverwhere never manages to be frustrating. There are times I wish the language was a little more beautiful, but it conveys its message perfectly. I especially love the Black Friars and everything to do with them, and the Marquis de Carabas is one of my favorite characters in anything ever. I love Door’s sort of strangeness, caught between being a child and being a grownup, just how harshly she is thrust into this world of not being protected by her father anymore, and yet she deals with it capably. Richard’s whole throughline is absolutely amazing, and I recommend the book to people based solely on him. His development is fantastic.
I’ve read this book several times, and it’s a fun, thought-provoking read. Good start to the year.