Sunday, July 19, 2015

Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness

Written by: Lyanda Lynn Haupt

First line: By all rights, I should never see the crow who perches almost daily on the electrical wire just beyond my study window.

Why you should read this book: It transcends the typical nature narrative by acknowledging the place that crows inhabit not only in the wild, but also in the human world, in both the physical and mythological realm. Weaving factual details along with the author's own story of depression and recovery, it's a small but powerful piece about the place of humans within their own sphere, with elements of biology, psychology, literature, spirituality, and education. A really impactful story, one that can help the reader open their eyes to the world around them, just as the author's relationship with real crows helped her to accomplish.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You have no respect for scavengers.

Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far-Reaching Tentacle of N'rygoth

Written by: Kurtis J. Wiebe

First line: Damn it, Sawyer!

Why you should read this book: Before they've quite finished celebrating their victory over their enemies from volume one, the Rat Queens are thrust into another adventure. This time, their pasts are all back to haunt them, with a vengeance, and they learn that they can't escape who they are, even as they are forced to figure out, quickly, who has it in for them and how to use their knowledge and skills to save the world. Silly and fun.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You believe children should always honor the traditions of their families.

Rat Queens Volume One: Sass and Sorcery

Written by: Kurtis J. Wiebe

First line: ...and what we face now is, alarmingly, one of Palisade's greatest threats.

Why you should read this book: Betty, Hannah, Dee, and Violet are a ragtag group of mercenaries, adventurers for hire who take jobs requiring their unique combination of magic, aggression, and snark, and leave a trail of mayhem, destruction, and bodies in their wake. When every single adventurer is the city of Palisade is forcible recruited by the local government for civic jobs just a bit more dangerous than the ordinary, they begin to realize that someone has it in for the Rat Queens and their kind. Beautifully illustrated, tongue-in-cheek, action-packed, feminist, sexy, and queer-friendly.

Why you shouldn't read this book: I felt the pacing was a bit lopsided; it took a while to get to the point, and then resolved really quickly.

The Book Thief

Written by: Markus Zusak

First line: First the colors.

Why you should read this book: In a German suburb on the eve of World War II, an orphan girl struggles with the pain of her world: the loss of her mother and brother, the confusion of her foster family, her own inability to read, the physical and intellectual violence of the Nazi party. With the arrival of a young Jewish man desperate for a hiding place, Liesel begins to learn what she needs as a human being: books and relationships. To be honest, I only read this book to check up on my stepson's summer reading, and I think it starts a little slowly, but it's beautifully written and begins to speed up after a few chapters until the reader is caught in its current.

Why you shouldn't read this book: It's about World War II. The body count is pretty high.


Written by: Mark Millar

First line: This is my best friend having sex with my girlfriend over an Ikea table I picked up for a really good price.

Why you should read this book: Wanted is angry and violent and politically incorrect and it's an intelligent and thought-provoking piece of literature that does an astonishing quantity of world-building after first shattering all the world-building done by hundreds of other authors. Wesley Gibson is a pathetic, spiritually-castrated excuse of a man, until he learns that he's the heir to a secret world of criminal conspiracy, and that he can kill anyone on the planet with both ease and impunity. There are machinations and double-crosses and all kinds of plot, but really, what this story is about is a man achieving his potential, even if that potential is morally reprehensible in this world, because it makes perfect sense in his world.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Murder. Rape. Language. A complete dismantling of all your most beloved childhood tropes.

Charlotte's Web

Written by: E.B. White

First line: Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

Why you should read this book: In some ways, this classic tale of survival is a simple, if not somewhat dated, story about the power of friendship and a joy in living that humans past a certain age take for granted. In another way, this is a deeply nuanced tale about the human condition, as far as that condition can be rendered illustrated by the relationship between a pig and a spider. However you read it, it's a joyful piece in which everyone is redeemed and set into their rightful sphere.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think pigs are just for eating, regardless of how they're written up.