Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dragons: A Beautifully Illustrated Quest for the World's Greatest Dragon Myths

Author: Jonathan Evans

First line: Dragons and dragon myths are ubiquitous in world history and culture.

Why you should read this book: It's exactly what it claims to be: a beautifully illustrated collection of dragon myths from ancient to medieval, grouped by region of the world, first eastern, then western. Most of the illustrations derive from historical sources and are reproduced in loving detail. A fairly basic overview.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're not a dragon-obsessed otherkin who compulsively collects dragon artifacts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

First line: I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.

Why you should read this book: Amir would do anything to earn the unconditional love of his respected but distant father, including the sacrifice of his servant and best friend, Hassan, a boy so faithful that he would eat dirt, and worse, for Amir. Their youthful bonds divided, Amir flees to America with his father when the Russians invade Afghanistan, while the less privileged Hassan stays behind in the war-torn country. Amir's story is one of terror and secrets, pain and guilt, along with the slim, glass-sharp thread of redemption that is offered to those who must make restitution for unspoken evil.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've done things--terrible things--to those who loved and trusted you, and you have dreams--terrible dreams--and remorse that haunt you without relent.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Author: Neil Gaiman

First line: Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.

Why you should read this book: Even though the mice upstairs warn her not to go through (at least that's what the strange man upstairs claims the mice said), and the strange women on the other side of the house believe she's in grave danger, Coraline uses a broom to knock the keys down and opens that forbidden door. On the other side, she finds a skewed mirror world, where everyone is very interested in making her life interesting, and a strange copy of her mother promises to love her and play with her forever if only she lets Coraline sew shiny black buttons onto her eyes. In the grand tradition of children's fantasy, Coraline must outwit the enemy and find her own way home, or risk her life and her soul in a shadowy world.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Fear of rats. Fear of things that scuttle around looking kind of like spiders and kind of like human hands with really long nails. Fear of losing ones family and being adored by a monster that will swallow your soul. Fear of having buttons sewn onto ones eyes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bow Grip

Author: Ivan E. Coyote

First line: I would never have sold him the car in the first place if I'd known what he was going to do with it.

Why you should read this book: Joseph Cooper sold the cowboy that blue Volvo in good faith, and promises to fix it for free after it breaks down the very next day, but when he realizes that the breakdown happened in the middle of the cowboy's suicide attempt, he's thrown into a life-changing journey that will force him to confront his own, long-avoided issues. He hasn't had sex since his wife ran off with the wife of one of his hockey buddies, he's a workaholic mechanic who rarely leaves the shop, he blames himself for his father's death, and even his own mother can't communicate with him. Armed only with the beautiful, heirloom cello he took in trade for the Volvo, Joseph heads for the city, on a mission of mercy to save a cowboy he doesn't know, and instead comes to see that there's a vast, wide world outside the confines of his garage.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Your motto is "live and let die."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

If That Breathes Fire, We're Toast

Author: Jennifer J. Stewart

First line: Thirty-four white cars in five minutes.

Why you should read this book: Rick Morales is not thrilled about moving from San Diego to Tucson, until the arrival of a temporary replacement for their ancient furnace in the form of an acerbic dragon with a dubious definition of the word "safe". Along with his neighbor Natalie and her tag-along little brother, Rick and the fire-breathing Madam Yang travel through time, space, and reality, narrowly escaping disaster at every turn. This is a story about acceptance, action, change, and growth, just right for middle-school students.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Indigestion, particularly the sugar-induced variety.