Possibly my favorite thing about summer break is that I get to spend more time reading some of the books that I didn’t get to read during the school year. So far this summer, I’ve been making my way through the stack, and I’ve been pleased with everything I brought home.
First up was Paper Townsby John Green. This is one of the most popular books in the LHS Library, which is why I wanted to read it (and, of course, I love John Green, and can’t wait to go see The Fault in Our Stars–have you seen it yet??). I really enjoyed the story, but what makes John Green books so great is the characters, and I loved the ones in this book. They are smart, vulnerable, and complicated, just like real people. If you’re a fan of John Green and haven’t read this one yet, you should. If you’ve never read any of his books, I encourage you to try one.
Next I read Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. This book is so weird I don’t even know how to start. To describe the plot–teens unwittingly unleash a virus that turns its victims into giant preying mantises out to take over the world–doesn’t really do it justice, because that just sounds stupid. But the book is hysterical and the characters, while dealing with an unrealistic problem, are very real. There are mature themes and situations (and language), so I know it wouldn’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. Still, when my husband asked what it was about, I just shook my head and said, “I don’t know how to explain it, but just read it.” If you enjoyed Steelheart or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, or just like to laugh, this book is for you.
Etiquette & Espionage from Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series has been on my “to read” list for a while, but I didn’t want to check it out during the school year because I wanted it to be available for students. I’m so glad I managed to read it this summer! This is a steampunk story (think Victorian era with crazy mechanical technology) with a strong female lead character and a great setting. Sophronia, at 14, gives her mother fits. Her tomboy tendencies eventually force her mother to take the drastic action of sending her off to a “finishing school,” where her mother hopes Sophronia will learn to be a lady. What Sophronia’s mother doesn’t know is that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not quite that type of finishing school. It’s actually a school for assassins, and Sophronia quickly discovers she has a real talent for espionage. This book is pure fun–an engaging setting, a society where the propriety rivals any Jane Austin novel, cool clockwork creatures, and girl power. I can’t wait to finish this series and read more of Carriger’s works.
I followed that up with a nonfiction title penned by a college friend. Life by the Cup is the story of Zhena Muzyka’s struggle to support her newborn son, who was born with a life-threatening birth defect, as a single mother without a source of income. While searching for a way to support herself and her child that allowed her to keep her special-needs infant with her, she came up with the idea of creating and selling tea. Eventually she travels to Sri Lanka to learn more about the workers who pluck her tea and becomes a passionate advocate of fair trade. The book is part memoir, part life coach, and part business guide, and each chapter includes reflections and exercises to help the reader find their own path. I don’t know how much appeal this book would hold for high school students, but it is beautifully written and contains a lot of lessons I wish I’d learned earlier in life. If you are interested in business, fair trade, or ethics, you’d enjoy this book. Zhena believes that businesses can help solve the worlds problems–maybe one of you can eventually start a business that’s also a solution.
Finally, I just finished Ready Player Oneby Ernest Cline. What a great story (thanks for the suggestion, Mr. Torp!). I loved the mix of 80’s references with the futuristic world where people interact more in the virtual world than the real one. The online aspect reminded me of Snow Crash, but this is a very different story. Wade, or Parzival (as he is known online) is a gunter–a person who is trying to find hidden easter eggs inside OASIS, so that he inherits OASIS creator James Halliday’s massive fortune. As the story progresses, winning the contest becomes less about massive wealth and more about keeping OASIS out of the hands of a greedy corporation, IOI. Wade is part superhero and all geek, which makes him flawed but loveable. If you like comic books, video games, the 80’s, or super heroes, you should read Ready Player One.
So that’s what I’ve been reading. How about you, Vikings? Any summer must-reads? Submit your reviews here!