The Nook of Uncommon Books: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

I have recently been gaining more and more appreciation for graphic novels. It used to not understand them as a whole and (embarrassingly and shamefully now) did not necessarily consider them actual “books” (loose definition). But when I found a forgotten copy of Maus by (Art Spiegelman) when cleaning out my brother’s book shelf, everything changed. But we are not here to talk about that book (as equally wonderful and moving as it is), we are here to talk (write?) about Nimona. To start off with, the first page of Nimona has the best dedication that I have seen. “For all the Monster Girls”. This one hit me straight in the chest. I was always a bit of an outsider growing up. I was that weird kid with not terrible social skills but still was defined as “socially awkward” and not exactly complete up there. Ya know? I never knew what to call myself and I did not want to be renamed to the stereotypical “That weird girl”. I cannot say what the other kids said behind my back, as obviously I was not there but I’m thinking it was not always positive. I grew up, changed a bit on the way but always solidified with this “weird girl” part of my life. She never went away and I never wanted her to in fact. But when I saw that dedication, I connected to these 5 words with such intensity and weight that I almost couldn’t turn the page. This book already took my breath away and this is only the first page. Everything, of course, just gets better from here on out.

As you can probably tell from my other “book reviews” (which I put in quotes because I do not know if you can count the way I review books as a traditional “book review”), I am going to do a horrible job of summarizing this amazing story and just talk about my overall thoughts in a word-vomit like format. Sound good to everyone? But in a way, that might be better so that you can go in reading it mostly blind but just with the remembrance of how it affect me, a random strange on the internet with a love of words and meaning. Nimona is a story of an unlikely friendship that seems to blossom out of evil desires, turning into true companionship when these two outcast realize the value of their relationship. A young girl with unusual power reveals the true nature of the people in her lives. With a drawing style completely unique to Stevenson, this graphic novel will have you laughing out loud and then crying within seconds. There is action, drama, wonder and magic to be found in the pages and a true sense of creativity to be found in between the pages. A story that will stay with you, please treat yourself to this amazing character’s journey of self acceptance and how it affects other’s along the way.

Putting the Fuse in Confused,

C

GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

I am not a history person. At all. I cannot emphasize this enough. But for some reason, I could not put down this book for the life of me despite by years of historical boycott. (I will say that Hamilton is converting me a little bit but I won’t go into that because I’m sure there are plenty of people out there screaming in their heads “Enough with Hamilton!” and then us Hamilton fans are all “Never! I’m not throwing away my shot!” and then there is uncomfortable situations and arguments and splitting sides and….this I the longest side note/run on sentence ever…Summary: I didn’t like history when I first read this book, things have changed since then but for this context, I did not expect to love this book as much as I ended up loving it. Okay and we’re back!). WWII European War brides trying to make it in America with their brand new military husband, in concept seems, frankly kind of boring but I picked this book up randomly just because it was available in the audio library app, and it completely blew me away (….my name is Philip, I am a poet. Promise, last Hamilton reference). Honestly the random finds are sometimes the best finds. Following the true stories of 4 amazing women to find and follow their loves across the sea. They tell their heartbreaking stories of adjusting to this new life, of being outcasts, seeing right in front of them, the lack of acceptance from family, seek the desperately needed acceptance of other GI brides and unfortunately, for more than one, experience what it’s like to fall out of love. I know that it not much of a summary when it comes to explaining the book but one of the best things about reading this is the experience of going into this reading experience blind.

This book made me think about the will of people. Imagine what it is like to leave your entire life behind for a single person. What do you think about? I think about my dear mother who moved so far away to be with my dear father. I think about how the fast way for my mom to get back home would be a 14 hour plane ride. In a time, where phone calls were expensive, where letters days apart was the main form of getting any notice, where there are certain days that you know, you are going to be alone. I could not do it. I am not trying to be purposefully humble or gain self righteous empathy because I would honestly fall apart if I went through what some of these women went through. Their courage is what I aspire to. I think anyone who enjoys human interest stories are required to read GI Brides.


Seeking that Hollywood Ending,

~C

The Nook of Uncommon Books: “Sing You Home” by Jodi Picoult

If you are a lover of unique love stories and music, please treat yourself to Jodi Picoult’s audiobook “Sing You Home”. Firstly to start off, in this small blogger’s humble opinion, Mrs. Picoult is a fabulous writer. I should also take the time to mention that I also love love love love music like it’s my own abstract form of a child. So you can probably tell that I was a little more than excited to pick up a Jodi novel called “Sing You Home” in audiobook form. A story of love, change, family and acceptance, I knew from the summary itself that I was going to appreciate the story right from the beginning. What I was not prepared for was the magic that occurred even before the start of the first chapter. You see, Mrs. Picoult has an written original song for each chapter of this book in tribute with the main character of the story, Zoe, who is a musical therapist as she goes through life’s trials and tributes. Between Zoe’s infertility with eventual sexual awakening and her ex-husband’s religious wakening from his alcoholic stupor, there is a fight for the rights to an unborn child. The story tests humanity to its brink before finally settling revealing the true power of love and knowing what is right. This story in itself is incredible, and the songs are above and beyond. Or at least I think so because writing songs is not easy and I can relate to that very clearly from failed memory suppression attempts of my middle school days when I tried to form an all girl combination rock/country/rap band. (Sidenote: We were all in the concert band together and needless today nothing moved forward because 1) we didn’t actually put in the effort and 2) None of us actually played the necessary instruments…because we met in concert band). From what I have been told, the lyrics are written out in the physical book, however! In the audiobook, Jodi collaborated with her friend Ellen Wilber and brought these songs into reality. And, at least in my personal opinion, they are actually amazing songs. As in, if this was an album, I would buy the CD. The combination musician/bookworm inside appreciated the connection Picoult makes between the songs are the storyline. It’s a beautiful transition. It’s a beautiful book in general. I implore any and all to check it out.

Sometimes 1+1=3,

~C

Reevaluation of Priorities: Books

My emotional connection to books has reached an all time high which has caused an all time low to my standards of living. These are three things that have happen in the past 2 weeks alone to prove this:

1. I have spent over $150 on books or book related events/merchandise and yet, I do not own a single pair of socks that does not have at least 1 fairly large hole between them and refuse to get more socks…because I spent all my money on books.

2. I will travel 1 and a half hours, round trip, with combination of driving and metros to meet an author for an event that last less than an hour and yet, I will continue to put off driving less than 5 minute down the street to get more milk and just eat cereal dry with my bare hands.

3. I have decided that instead of prioritizing my time between work, school and basic adult things so that I can read all the books I actually want to, I am just going to sleep less. My coffee intake (which is already pretty high) has almost doubled so far and I’ve averaging about 4 hours a night. And yet, I have no regrets.

For the love of books and all things book related forever and ever and ever,

~C

Libraries

Have you ever noticed how all libraries kind of smell the same? The smell of paper and dust and of drying ink. The smell of adventures and inspiration and whimsy. Then there are the sounds. The sounds of pages turning, typing, muffled music and children giggling. The sounds of people who are lost in a good book, and of students straining to finish assignments. And of course, the sight. Libraries are surprisingly colorful. It’s because stories are surprisingly colorful. I have always loved going to libraries my entire life. The first library I went to was the only I went to for most of my life, until I moved away for college. There was this very distinct smell, sound and look to that libaray that I loved. It was my happy place. It was my safe house. I hated leaving that library but what I have learned is that libraries are actually, pretty universal. Every time I found a new one, it all came back to me. The nostalgia hits me like a ton of bricks and suddenly I’m ten years old again, practically speed walking into the front doors and asking mom how many books I’m allow to check out. Some times, I wish I could be 10 again. I wish I could be at that stage in my life where my biggest problems and worries revolved around not being able to check out all of the books I wanted. I love getting older and I love being an adult and yet I find myself missing being just a kid. But that is the wonderful thing about libraries for me. For a second, I get to be little again. For a moment I feel so carefree, only thinking about books. I of course will move again and I will have to leave whatever current library I am at eventually. But in a small way, I also don’t. Because libraries will always be there. They will always be my safe place. And they will always, always, always make me feel that same happy, every time I enter their doors.

~C

 

The One Thing I’m Not Confused About

So I read. A lot. I have always loved books, they are one of my favorite things second only to writing. Books have to power to entertain, stir emotions and inspire all at once. Today’s post isn’t going to be a funny anecdote and it’s not going to be about something I am confused about. Actually quite the opposite because books are one of the very few things in this world that actually make complete sense to me. Books have influenced me and made me the person that I am today, the person that I love.

These are the four books that have completely changed my life. All of these books were passed on to me and so now, I will continue to pass them on to you.

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I read this book in one sitting. Seriously. I sat for almost 6 hours and finished this book. This is the second book by Mr. Hosseini; his first and more famous book “The Kite Runner” was pretty good but didn’t connect to me in the same way this one did. It tells the story of two Afghan women with very different lives, a generation apart, who come together after a series of intense events. A story of love, friendship, hardship, overcoming and sacrifice, A Thousand Splendid taught me that things don’t always work out but if you stay strong and are confident in who you are, you will never lose yourself and sometimes that the more important.

  1. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is probably one of my favorite people ever, all of his books are fantastically hilarious but this one is particular had ,e laughing out loud almost every chapter. Sedaris writes mostly about humorous short stories from his past and I can’t really describe this book in detail without ruining the experience for a new reader but a few topics this book covers includes is his time as a performance artist, getting guitar lessons from a little person in his youth and his experience with his father being an expired food hoarder. I had the amazing pleasure of meeting Mr. Sedaris after one of his live shows I smiled and laughed so much in those 3 minutes, my face actually hurt afterwards. Me Talk Pretty taught me to laugh more and keep record of those moments which is what mainly inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

  1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

At the moment, Tartt is most famous for her current book “The Goldfinch” which itself is fantastic and truly a masterpiece but The Secret History  is the one that I find myself reaching for to reread. The story is about six college students, during the time when one of them is murder by the other five. There are insane twist and turns, extreme highs as well as extreme low and it makes you question what it means to be happy.  It’s very dark, which I know isn’t for everyone but I personally loved it. It’s a classic tragedy with a modern twist and one of those books that is hard to put down once you start.  The Secret History taught me about sadness, death and acceptance which although are not the happiest of topics are ones that need to be faced.

  1. Going Bovine by Libba Bray

This is my favorite book of all time. The story of a young boy who gets mad cow disease and then after taking the advice of a girl with wings that only he seem to see, goes on the most epic adventure his life trying to find the cure. Bray balances on the fine life that separates imagination and realty and truly makes you think. This books has everything. My favorite quote from the book is “Reality is what you make of it.” and I have never been able to find a better phrase to live my life by.  Who’s to say what is real and was is not but as long as you make the most of what you are given, does it really matter? I also had the amazing privilege of meeting Ms. Bray at the National Book  Festival last year and the message she wrote for me before she signed my book is that valuable lesson that Going Bovine taught me: “Enjoy the Ride”.

Putting the Fuse in Confused,

C