Sunday, June 24, 2012

Books of the Summer (So Far)

I have been reading avidly this summer. Partly because I haven't had much of a chance to read for fun during the school year and partly because reading helps me write. My goal is to read 50 books this summer. Reminder: My summer lasts until the end of September because my school is baller. I've gotten through 15 previously unread novels completely. I started several and never finished. I used to feel this moral obligation to slog through books every book I started even if I didn't like it, but I read somewhere from someone wise that there are too many books in the world to read the ones you don't enjoy. So I stopped. Here is the list in the order I finished the books.

1. Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry
2. White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
3. Life Is But A Dream by Brian James
4. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
5. Reaching For Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
6. The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg
7. The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor
8. Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks
9. Looking For Alaska by John Green
10. All These Lives by Sarah Wylie
11. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
12. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
13. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
14. Paper Towns by John Green
15. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Thoughts on the books:

Since I finished all these books, it means they were at least palatable to some degree that I got through them. Like I said, if I'm bored out of my mind, I'll stop reading, even if I'm 100+ pages in. This happened with Belladonna by Mary Finn. Loved the cover, liked the heft, sounded good, and then it was just not my cup of tea after six or seven chapters, so I stopped.

Biggest discovery — JOHN GREEN, you know it. As you can tell from my list, all planned reading came to halt when I found him. Except for All These Lives, because hello. Obviously. And Going Bovine, I was just finishing up. Ranking John Green books in terms of ultimate awesomeness to lesser-but-still-awesome awesomeness: The Fault in Our Stars, Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines (Jury's still out on Will Grayson x2 as I am working on it now).

Biggest surprise — Mmm, tie between The Year We Were Famous and Girl in the Park. The Year is middle grade, and the voice was pretty simplistic, so I didn't think I would like it, and then halfway through BAM, the plot picked up. I loved it. Very adventure-y and fun. It was a great throw-back to my old Oregon Trail playing days. Girl in the Park also surprised me. I don't usually read mystery novels, but this one kept me going. I have to admit, who the killer was seemed fairly obvious to me throughout, but maybe I'm just awesome. The characters were well done. Girl in the Park along with Before I Fall did a great job of making "mean girls" three-dimensional.

Biggest disappointment — Tie between Going Bovine (because my expectations were too high) and The Lonely Hearts Club. I feel bad dispensing negative opinions since I, too, am a writer and would like to be published one day, so let it be known that these are opinions of one reader. But The Lonely Hearts Club was utterly vapid. I barely made it through, and only because I wanted to know what happened at the end. It's weird, because I felt like it was along the same lines as Anna and the French Kiss/Lola and the Boy Next Door, and I LOVED the crap out of both those books. I dunno. Anna and Lola were more engaging main characters, I guess. The teenagers in The Lonely Hearts Club seemed to me only to have one-track minds. I enjoy reading teenagers who ruminate on more than just love.

Would especially recommend — Other than John Green, I particularly enjoyed All These Lives, honestly, and not because Sarah is awesome (although she is); the book stands on its own merit. Before I Fall was good too, although this is more of an observation rather than a recommendation, as I'm sure I may be the last person in the blogosphere to have read this book. I'm just late to every party.

Currently reading: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson; Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan; and The Melting Season by Celeste Conway


  1. Hi! I've been tying to decide if I want to read John Green books or not. The same happened to me with Suzanne Collins, I didn't think I was going to be ready for how tough the books are. I know, it's quite a silly way of thinking, but it took me half a year to finally read The Hunger Games. I loved them, by the way. Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm hesitating to read J. Green's books, but you seem to love him, and that's getting me curious about his work. I think I'll give him a chance xD
    I was wondering, have you ever read Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan" trilogy? If you have, what are your thoughts on the books? :)
    Also, I'm tying to get my 15 year old cousin to read better YA fiction than Twilight and Hush Hush, her current favorites. She loves romance, specially with superntaural elements. Which books would you recommend?

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    2. Hey! :)

      You should DEFINITELY read John Green. He's by and far one of my favorite authors now, easily top 3. I would recommend THE FAULT IN OUR STARS or LOOKING FOR ALASKA first, but really, you can't go wrong with any of his books. They're all stand alones, which to me, is more palatable. There's less commitment involved so it's easier to get started.

      I've always intended on reading LEVIATHAN, etc., but for some reason, have just never gotten around to it. Heard great things though.

      As you can probably tell from my reading list, my tastes trend strongly contemporary or urban fantasy, so I'm not super well-read on paranormal romance. But I've recently loved THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson. Mostly paranormal thriller with a little romance, but it's very good. If she's never read the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray, that's excellent. It's historical paranormal romance though, so if she's okay with the fact that it's set in Victorian England, she'd probably enjoy it. I mean, otherwise, to be honest, I don't read paranormal romance, so I don't have great suggestions. :(

      However, if she just wants some good romance, I highly recommend ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. I realize the title sounds super cheesy, but it's so well-written and the romance is delicious. Along the same lines, THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith is very, very romantic. Hope that helps!