Tag Archives: excellent

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (unabridged audiobook read by the author; 7.75 hours on 7 discs): Bod (short for Nobody) Owens lives in a graveyard, raised by the ghosts and otherworldly beings who live there. This tale chronicles his entire childhood including his adventures with ghoul gates, Hounds of God, the Sleer, and fellow living children. The narration borders on the lyrical, with ghostly voices like rustling leaves and Bod’s guardian Silas the most mysterious of them all (though I have my suspicions). This is one of those rare books that I enjoyed so thoroughly that I can’t think of anything to say about it in my review. It’s weird and funny and bittersweet and very memorable. I will definitely be reading it again one day.

A note on the audio version: Very few writers are good readers, but Gaiman is one of the best of both. I was completely enchanted by his gentle narration, and I advise everyone not to miss out on a chance to listen to him read his stories. However, by listening to this on audio I missed out on Dave McKean’s illustrations. Which is why it is such good luck that I happen to own a paper copy as well, so I can go back and read it with Gaiman’s voice in my head and McKean’s drawings at hand.

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green: Margo Roth Spiegelman is larger than life. Tales of her exploits are nothing short of epic, and one night she grabs her neighbor and schoolmate Quentin Jacobsen for one last spree before she disappears from town. Following vague clues left behind, finding Margo becomes an obsession for Quentin that leads him to abandoned buildings, Walt Whitman, and – of course – paper towns. The whole thing culminates in an epic road trip where every noteworthy event that’s ever happened on any roadtrip anywhere happens on this one. Green has somehow managed to distill pure adolescence into prose, filling his narratives with believable characters who have believable feelings and say believable (and often very, very funny) things. Granted, these kids are more like I was in college than high school, but I can still relate. The story is similar in tone to Looking For Alaska, where you have a fairly ordinary teenage boy fascinated with a beautiful, inscrutable, unattainable girl. However, I think I might like this one just a teensy bit more, because Quentin’s philosophical ponderings about how well one can know another person really resonated with me. It’s bittersweet, and once again a book I wish I could have read when I was that age, if only so I could have played Metaphysical I Spy with my friends.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: I can see why this story resonates with so many BookCrossers: it’s all about people connecting through books. The setting is England, 1946, and everyone is still recovering from World War II. Journalist Juliet Ashton receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man living on Guernsey Island who purchased a secondhand book with her address inside the front cover. He writes her to ask for the addresses of bookshops he could contact to get more books by Charles Lamb. Thus Juliet is introduced to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a group formed during the German occupation of the Channel Islands. I feel a little silly for not knowing about the occupation, though WWII was never covered in any depth in my schooling.

I am so in love with this book. It’s told as a more realistic epistolary than most, in that people actually write the way most people write letters, as opposed to sharing novels with verbatim dialogue and fancy descriptive passages. Even so, the characters are unique, believable, and very memorable. I laughed out loud; I got choked up; I worried; I cheered. In other words, I was completely sucked in to the story. I didn’t want it to end. Highly recommended.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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