I read 6 books in December – evenly split between fiction and non-fiction, Kindle and hard copy.
How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks (2013).
A fun kid’s book that I heard about from the Booklist blog. Birdie is a 10-year-old Bogler’s apprentice in Victorian London, which basically means that she’s bait for those monsters who live in places like chimneys and wells and other dark places and who like to eat children. Despite that description, Birdie loves her job and resents the interference of a well-meaning “improver” who tries to “save” Birdie from her chosen profession. I love children’s chapter books with strong, interesting female characters and then definitely fits that description.
Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop (2008).
I read SO many food memoirs. I really liked this one, even though I had avoided it for year’s, because I can’t tolerate spicy food (damn you Scandanavian forebears, with your love of dairy and complete lack of peppers), and why read about food you can’t eat? But this was interesting enough, and Dunlop’s enthusiasm for Chinese and especially Sichuan food was great enough, that I enjoyed it anyway!
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (2014).
I really like Roxane Gay. I think she is super smart and a great writer and I was excited to pick up this collection of essays. I love essays! I love modern feminist writing! And I was just sort of MEH about this. I think I’m not that crazy about pop culture criticism? Maybe because I am just not up on enough of it anymore. This book wasn’t bad, just not as awesome as I was expecting it to be.
Ruby Redfort Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Child (2013).
This is a children’s book series about a 13-year-old secret agent (sounds awesome already, right?). Amusingly this is a series that was written, because the author Lauren Child has another series (Clarice Bean), in which the main characters favorite books were Ruby Redfort mysteries, which didn’t exist until Clarice Bean fans started clamoring for them. I love that! Anyway, this is the second book in the series, and is great fun.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (2014).
I loved this book. LOVED it. So much so that I have made it my book club pick for next month. It is an autobiography of the childhood of children’s/YA book writer, Jacqueline Woodson. And it’s in VERSE. It’s an autobiography in POEMS. I don’t usually do so well with poetry. I like it in theory and I like individual poems, but I can’t just sit down and read a book of poems. But I devoured this – and I think it’s because, it has something that most poetry is missing and that’s a plot, a narrative arc. I like when people do beautiful things with words, but to read a whole lot of that beauty, I want to also get a story, and Brown Girl Dreaming just hit all those notes amazingly well.
The Girl Who Saved the Queen of England by Jonas Jonasson (2014).
I read very little literature in translation. I don’t know why exactly, it’s just one of those things. I mostly read books that were written in English. But I picked this one up (originally written in Swedish), based on the recommendation of the NPR Book Concierge. And it was so good – funny and unexpected and delightful. And amazingly, a lot of the online reviews on GoodReads say “not as good as his first book”, so now I am REALLY excited to read that. Well worth checking out!