The Main Orange County Public Library sustained significant flooding during the winter storm this past week. Most of the damage occurred in the Teen Room and the Children’s sectio…
An annual tradition with me is choosing my top 5 reads of the year–not necessarily books that were published during the year, but books that I read and stayed with me, that stood out above the crowd. This year’s roundup is a varied assortment, but I highly recommend them all.
1. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay — a really unusual horror story that pays homage to a lot of horror classics
2. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende — just an enthralling work of historical fiction
3. Four Ways to Forgiveness by Ursula K. Le Guin — honestly, can she write a bad book? this one took my breath away
4. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin — a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to his literary vampire-apocalypse trilogy
5. Descent by Tim Johnston — not your typical thriller, this novel about a father’s search for his missing daughter reminded me a lot of Cormac McCarthy
Did you have any favorite reads of 2016? Add them in the comments.
I’m taking a hiatus from this website and all social media for an indefinite period. The Internet is not a healthy place for me to be right now.
Here is an interesting essay by Emily St. John Mandel that analyzes data to find common characteristics of books with the word “girl” in the title and try to answer the question of why this is a trend now. Fun game next time you’re in the bookstore: Make up a short story just using the the titles of books you see that contain the word “girl.”
His situation, insofar as he was a machine, was complex, tragic, and laughable. But the sacred part of him, his awareness, remained an unwavering band of light. — Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
Author Susan Hill delves into why we love scary books, especially as the weather gets colder, and recommends some classic ghost stories in this piece in the Guardian.
At this time of year, when the leaves are changing colors and there is a little nip in the air, it’s only natural that we start craving ghost stories. With that in mind, here is a recommendation for you: White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.
Miranda Silver is the ultimate goth girl, pale with jet black hair, waif-thin due to an eating disorder that compels her to eat chalk–she could have stepped from the pages of an Edward Gorey book. She has a rather creepy relationship with her twin brother, Eliot. Her mother was recently violently killed, leading to Miranda having a mental breakdown, and her father is lost in his own dream world of grief. Despite all this, Miranda is accepted to Cambridge, where she meets and eventually becomes lovers with a refreshingly normal girl named Ore. Oh yes, Miranda also lives in a malevolent, conscious house that harbors the spirits of her female ancestors and greedily wants her as well. She probably should have known better than to bring Ore home.
This is quite a strange book, very slippery, difficult to nail down what the story is exactly. The writing slips almost without delineation between different narrators and different times. The effect is hallucinatory, dreamlike. Like a funhouse in a carnival, the haunted house here is full of illusions, shifting its interior space in order to confuse and ensnare its occupants–it is conscious; it is acting; it is not just a figment of a mentally disturbed mind.
I have seen this book compared to one of my favorite ghost stories, The Haunting of Hill House, and I have no doubt that Jackson inspired Oyeyemi. Hill House too was ambiguous; it also wondered whether houses could be alive, whether they could want someone and act accordingly. I think Jackson’s novel is the cleaner story, but Oyeyemi here plays with Jackson’s ideas with interesting results.