Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

what I'm reading

I've actually managed to read two novels and a few picture books over the last couple of days--all of them non-required, almost-purely-for-pleasure books. (I say "almost" because when I read kids' and YA literature there's always a chance I'll teach it or write about it--but the initial reading is usually still for pleasure.) I've also bought a few more and am dying to get to them, although the treadmill starts up again tomorrow so I may not have time to get to them for a while.

First up was The Graveyard Book. What is there to say that hasn't already been said? I heard most of the first chapter of this read by the author himself almost a year ago, at the Fantasy Matters conference. It was so chilling, a large auditorium full of people just sat in silence, gasping occasionally, as he read. Since then he's read the entire novel, a chapter at a time, to different audiences on his book tour--and you, too, can listen and watch! I have heard about a chapter and a half so far, and it's absolutely spell-binding. But I can read to myself quicker than I can listen, and I can do it in bed, so I finished the book the old-fashioned way, page by page. I was at war with myself over whether to read faster so as to find out what happened, or more slowly so as to enjoy the experience longer. In the end faster won out, as it always does with me--but as soon as I can, I'll reread it so I can linger over the sentences again. I want to write about it more fully at some point, but for now--read it! (Oh, and apparently like everyone else, yes, I had trouble finding it in the bookstore. I checked YA, Fantasy/Sci Fi, and new YA--but it was in the children's section in a display all on its own.)

I also picked up Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist when I got The Graveyard Book, because I was planning to see the movie and wanted to read the novel first. But then I didn't. So. I enjoyed the movie, which has a great feel to it of one of those semi-aimless evenings where nothing happens but everything does. Then I read the book, which is really even better. Episodes get switched around in the movie, and heightened for dramatic effect--and I can't complain about that, as the drama is enjoyable--but the book, with its chapters alternating between Nick and Norah's voices, really is a compelling read all on its own. Again, others have already said much more than I, but I'm glad I read it (though I did stay up too late last night finishing it. Sigh).

The other books were all picture books dealing with elections, and I'll have more to say about them, I hope, in my next column. Stay tuned.

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