Oh my god, I have to deal with The Phone Company this month. (For the second time, our ISP is getting out of the residential DSL business. And Google Fiber is dragging its heels on coming to Portland. So… I will finally have to communicate directly with one or the other of the Two Horrible Companies that can keep us on the internet.)
Happily, I can escape into some very cool posts on old kidlit, from before The Phone Company even existed.
- Allison Parker looks at Sara Crewe vs. A Little Princess, in the context of that maxim about “show, don’t tell.” I had a paperback Sara Crewe as a child and had no idea it was an earlier, shorter work than A Little Princess. My Sara Crewe was severe and waspish–like Mary Lennox–and I could never understand why people went on about the other girls at the school, whom I could barely remember. A year or two ago, when Hilary McKay’s sequel Wishing for Tomorrow came out, I finally figured out what had happened, and read A Little Princess for real.
- WOW, these posts on Little Women! Lara Langer Cohen on Jo’s anger and love. Sarah Blackwood & Sarah Mesle: No One Likes Meg. How often do you get to read thoughts on Meg?! And I found the comments on Stephanie Foote’s post about Beth as Ghost curiously affecting. And why is Jo’s writing treated so differently from Amy‘s art? Amy’s my girl and I’ve thought about her a lot, so that post didn’t strike me quite as hard as it might have. But what. a. set.
- And finally, I just today started watching Project Green Gables. It’s a Lizzie Bennett Diaries-inspired vlog version of Anne of Green Gables, made by Laura Eklund Nhaga and friends in Helsinki. (The production is in English.) Nhaga is black and plays Anne, which puts Anne’s angst over her hair in a whole new light. I like it so far!
These are the books I’ll be adding to my Librarything collection this year, along with the description I jotted down for each one when I put it on my running list of books read. They’ll bring the collection to 99 books I love–although more are represented, because I let one book stand for a series and sometimes for a whole author.
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews. Profane, funny book about kids making bad films, having inappropriate thoughts, and having different connections with each other than the adults think they do. Love Earl’s black-Pittsburgh language.
- Winterbound, by Margery Bianco. 1936 novel of siblings navigating a country winter in New England. By the author of The Velveteen Rabbit, incidentally. Not much happens, but I liked the characters and the details of day-to-day life.
- A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Ridiculous yet addictive. Oh, Sara Crewe!
- Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer. 1969 novel of a girl at boarding school who wakes up as another girl in 1918, and they switch each night. A time-travel story that raises questions about identity and whether the people around you see the “real you.”
- Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Cath and her twin are both freshmen at UN Lincoln; she’s the shy, anxious one and is also semi-secretly a top fanfic author. Romance, friendship, and family drama ensue. (Note: I only just finished this before the end of the year. Curious to see if it stays prominent in my memory or fades.)
- The Gentrification of the Mind, by Sarah Schulman. The interrelation of the AIDS epidemic and its fallout with the gentrification of New York City, followed by ruminations on what has been displaced, forgotten, and lost in gay culture and politics. Outstanding, with personal stories about her choices as a teacher and her interactions with Kathy Acker and other icons.
- Among Others, by Jo Walton. A Welsh girl goes to English boarding school after her twin dies in an auto wreck. The fairies she knew in Wales, are they real or part of her psyche? Many SF and fantasy book shout-outs.
- The Lake, by Banana Yoshimoto, trans. Michael Emmerich. An art student in Tokyo falls for her neighbor, but he has heavy secrets in his past. Liked the even-toned writing style and subtle emotions; my opinion kept flip-flopping on whether this romance was advisable or not.
What my LibraryThing additions don’t reflect is that this was a wonderful year for rereading. Lots of Mary Stoltz. The Ramona books plus Henry and Beezus and Henry Huggins. His Dark Materials. Zahrah the Windseeker. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For.
Also, I combined picture books, poetry, comics, and graphic novels into one category, 22 books (including rereads), yet no new Librarything additions are in that category.
Remember how I was rereading all the Ramona books to get ready for a fic exchange? [edited to add: oh wait, you don’t, because it was a secret!] Now all the stories are up!
And I feel so so lucky, because the story I got is wonderful, and is about Nsibidi in Nnedi Okorafor’s Zahrah the Windseeker. Tall, bold Nsibidi who is friends with the idiok. Here it is.
The story I wrote about Mr. and Mrs. Quimby is here.
I’m still reading through many of the others. This is one I liked a lot, a Code Name Verity fic.
And speaking of fanfic, I just finished Wishing for Tomorrow, Hilary McKay’s sequel to A Little Princess. I was really a Secret Garden and Lost Prince person myself, but I like Hilary McKay, especially her dialogue and one-line deadpan events, and this was a fine Hilary McKay book.
My reading life’s been good lately.