Monday, September 29, 2014


Written by: Lois Lowry

First line: The young girl cringed when they buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her.

Why you should read this book: With careful, deliberate pacing, Lowry draws her quartet to a satisfying conclusion with the story of Claire, a young woman selected as a birthmother in her community but found, after producing a single son, unfit for the job. Unlike the others in her community, Claire has never taken the medication that flattens emotion and, consumed with love for the child that was taken for her, gives up everything she has ever known, all precious possibility offered to her, and the bulk of her life in pursuit of the boy. Readers will happily re-immerse themselves in broken, but mendable, future of this final story, which ties together the stories in the previous three books.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're still grieving for Matty.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Written by: Michael Chabon

First line: In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier's greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.

Why you should read this book: In a vast epic that encompasses World War II, the birth, growth, and subsequent emasculation of the comics industry, four continents, surrealism, love, death, and art, the author breathes life into the characters of a partnership of cousins each running headlong away from his own demons. Joe Kavalier is the haunted Czech fellow whose narrow escape from Prague and talent for drawing are the stuff of legends; Sam Clay is the ambitious American whose copious ideas flow from his mind to page like water from a faucet. This book is as meticulously researched as it is imagined and written, and, like the comic books produced by the partnership of Kavalier and Clay, it presents a vision of life larger and more colorful than the mundane existence that we read to escape.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Sometimes, reading a book like this makes me angry because I know I will never write anything so good.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Ingoldsby Legends

Written by: Richard Harris Barham

First line: One the lone bleak moor, At the midnight hour, Beneath the Gallows Tree, Hand in hand The Murderers stand By one, by two, by three!

Why you should read this book: You really don't realize how old some legends are until you read them in an almost-200-year-old book of laborious poetry. People in the nineteenth century were probably really creeped out by these rhyming stories of witches, ghosts, demons, and various other dead and creepy things, although modern readers will most likely find them quaint at best. An interesting slice of the history of popular culture.

Why you shouldn't read this book: The writing is frankly tedious. Plus, unless you have a fair grasp of nineteenth century vernacular and some idea about English history, a lot of it will just be perplexing.