Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Spring Break Wrap Up

On this last day of Spring Break, it's time to take stock of the week's reading. I can safely say my reading has been the most productive part of my break. I managed to finish a record five books in a week. It sounds more impressive than it really is because they were very short for the most part, but it's still a nice feeling to have finished--and enjoyed--so many great books over the course of the week. The Bloody Chamber, Arabian Nights (and Days), Wolves, A Girl Named Zippy, and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac were wonderful choices, and I feel certain that I'm officially over my reading slump now. Joy!

I spent a good deal of time yesterday, and a couple of hours on and off this morning, reading Gabrielle Zevin's newest novel, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. It's been a while since I've read a book that I could sink into so easily. I became immediately engrossed in the story of Naomi, a teen who falls down the stairs of her high school, hits her head, and loses four years of memory. Stuck with a new identity--view of self, opinions, and friends she doesn't always remember--she must rebuild her life, start fresh.

I had really high hopes for this book. Some of them were met and some weren't. On an academic level, I was really looking forward to issues of identity in this book. I can't shake that part of me that taught adolescent lit, and this book sounded like something tailor-made for S. and the book she's currently writing. I will still recommend it to her, but some of the complicated and intriguing issues of identity didn't pan out in this novel. What could've been a really intricate journey for the protagonist was enjoyable to read, but not nearly as wonderfully twisty and difficult as it could've been.

On a general readerly level, it's a great book to sit back and relax with. I loved Naomi's voice. It was truly teenagery but without a lot of the complete obnoxiousness that teens often posses. There's no trace of Holden Caulfield in this novel, in other words. Naomi is a good person who does some stupid things, but one can't help but empathize with her throughout most of the novel. Zevin sets up some nice roadblocks and relationships for the young amnesiac, and I had a great time riding along with her.

I also read this book for the 2008 TBR Challenge. Yay for marking another one off the list!

Now, the big question is what to read next! I'm looking forward to pawing my shelves for possibilities in a few minutes. I'll update later today if I manage to sink into something.

By the way, if you're hankering for a grand book giveaway, hop on over to Nymeth's blog. She's celebrating Buy a Friend a Book Week in style!

9:20 P.M. - I can gladly say, I've already settled into another book! After two degrees, library work, school school school, and bountiful goading from friends, I am reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Last person on the planet...yet again. I'm not sure how I never picked this book up, but I would guess it had something to do with the fact that all teachers crammed the movie down our throats every year, my class saw a live production, AND everyone says it's the best book ever. I've been offered money to read it, first born children, shiny things, and mutitudinous other bribes from wise friends like Heather F. and CdnReader. However, somehow, I absolutely never once felt compelled to pick it up.

Until now.

I'm about 20 pages in, and I'm completely charmed. I can't wait to spend more time with it. Maybe I'll have some down time tomorrow in the writing center since it's the first day back.


  1. That book sounds pretty interesting... I think I might pick it up. I'm glad I happened upon this post today, when I'm between books, so thanks!

  2. I'm very interested in what you have to say about the Teenage Amnesiac, not because I've read the book, because i haven't but because I think you've hit on what actually marks out a brilliant book for teenagers, or more to the point what marks out one that doesn't quite make it. Somehow so many books in this area turn away from the real nub of whatever issue they're tackling at the last moment. Do you know Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses trilogy? Superb in many ways, but when it comes to the question of what it means to be mixed race in a country where colour splits the nation she fails to really get to grips with it.

  3. You truly are out of your readerly slump! What a great list of books. I have been meaning to get back to Angela Carter since reading "The Bloody Chamber," which was fascinating. "Arabian Nights (and Days)," however, was the beginning of my disillusionment with the "Fables" series, which has deepened in recent volumes. I would be interested to hear more about what you thought of it.

  4. Teenage Amnesiac sounds really interesting. I work with teenagers quite a bit, so I like reading books about them.

    It does appear that you have burst out of your reading slump with a bang!

  5. I am so impressed that you finished five books in one week. Go ahead with our bad self!

  6. I need to say first and foremost that I love your header.

    I also love the cover of the Teenage Amnesiac. I am interested in reading it after your comments. I am reawakening my love for young adult literature.

  7. Thanks for spreading the word, Andi!

    This book sounds good, but I would think that a book about teenagers and amnesia would explore issues of identity too. Aren't our experiences greatly responsible for who we are? What happens if they are wiped out? Still, it sounds like a worthwhile read and I'll keep my eye out for it.

  8. I just found out about Buy a Friend a Book Week today. I have been thinking of something creative to do. This might take!

    Happy Sunday!

  9. I'm glad you were able to fit in so much reading on your break, Andi. I'm ready for a week's vacation so I can get caught up on some of my reading. That will have to wait though.

  10. Wow, you really did fit in some reading in that 5-day break. Your header is gorgeous.

  11. Novaren, I think it would be right up your alley. Looking forward to your thoughts if you get around to it.

    Ann, right on! So many books for teens don't follow that big idea to fruition. Very sad really. But I'm always really excited when I do find that rare tome that does a grand job at it. Can't say I'm familiar with the trilogy you mentioned. Must look it up!

    Pour of Tor, what does your disillusionment with Fables spring from? The thinly veiled political and social implications? Storytelling? Wolves felt like the weakest volume to me. I wasn't really dissatisfied with Arabian.

    Becca, it's a worthwhile adolescent read, for sure!

    Thanks, Beastmommma!

    Thanks a bunch, Megan! I love me some YA and adolescent fiction. There's so much there for adults.

    Nymeth, it does explore those issues of identity, but my gripe is with the fact that the author didn't take the theme quite as far as she could've. Seems like there was a particular plot point, about halfway through, that really was a cop out. It disappointed me to say the least, but I won't reveal it here because it might ruin the book for those who haven't read it. If you read it I'd love to discuss it with you.

    J.Kaye, enjoy coming up with creative BaFaBW ideas!

    Thanks, LF! I hope you get to get caught up sooner than later!

    Thanks, Booklogged. I looove this header. I have to give all the credit to Heather F. of A High & Hidden Place for finding it and putting it together for me.

  12. Mockingbird is a great book. We just started it in my 9th grade classes and are currently mapping Maycomb as we read.

  13. You are doing a good thing for yourself by reading Mockingbird--it's like treating yourself to a day at a spa or something of that nature.

  14. Lu, I have NO IDEA how I didn't have to read this book in late middle or early high school. It seems everyone else did that. My teachers must've been revolutionaries and rogues who decided against this one. Hmmphf. I think I would've rather read Mockingbird than THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. Hated that book.

    Thanks, Fem! Nice analogy.

  15. Coming late to the party... still, I'm glad you enjoyed Amnesiac. You're right -- a lot of the issues of memory and identity that I was hoping for didn't pan out, but it was still an enjoyable little love story (I think that's what it was, first and foremost) and a good picture of teenagers without being to trendy. (Liked that. A lot.)

    Enjoy Mockingbird. :) (And being back to work...ugh.)

  16. Well good God it's about time! ;) Can't wait to hear what you think of Mockingbird. It's one of my all-time-faves.

    And I'm glad you enjoyed Amnesiac. I had the same problems you did with it and was disappointed Zevin didn't push the subject a little further, but still enjoyed it. I enjoyed her other two novels a bit more and highly recommend Elsewhere.

  17. you are a reading fool Andi! Glad to hear that the pooch got to know the kong! YAYY! For puppy classes I used to fill the kong with wet food then freeze it and then when we'd sit down at the end to listen to the teacher I would give it to the pooch to keep her attention! Worked WONDERS! Lucy loves her kong now even when it's empty!!

  18. Andi, it sounds like you have the reading slump knocked. Glad to hear you've enjoyed what you've read on your break. I haven't read any of these. But, I'm so glad you're going to give To Kill a Mockingbird a try. I know you're sick of hearing people say it, but it is my all-time favorite book. It probably has something to do with when I read it (14), but I have since reread it and loved it just as much. Hey, but don't feel bad if you don't like it. We all have very different reading tastes, and I've found myself ashamed to admit that I didn't like a book simply because most other people did. But, that's what makes life interesting, right?

  19. Yes....To Kill a Mockingbird is quite possibly the BEST BOOK EVER!! I really hope you like it!

  20. Amen to not being too trendy, Melissa. I completely respect her writing ability, especially in that regard. Have you read any of her other stuff? I can't remember.

    LOL, Heather. I knew you'd say that. Knew it! Yes, finally. I love it so far.

    Funky, GREAT idea re: the wet food stuffing. I think the peanut butter I used to glue the dry food together in the kong was too rich for Daisy, so I'll def give the wet food a go.

    Thanks, Lisa! So far, so good. I really love Lee's writerly voice so far. Scout is a hoot! As is Jem, Dill, etc. I'm sinking into it very easily, and I'm totally irked that I didn't get to read more of it today.

    LOL, thanks, Stephanie!

  21. Our Spring Break just started today, and I have to admit there's a bit of a quesy feeling: "What should I read to use this time the best?" I'm trying a few fantasy for Carl's Challenge, and that always makes me feel worthwhile, but I have a huge stack that is calling me and it's always so hard to choose just one. Everyone loves To Kill A Mockingbird. I had to read it in High School, and I haven't picked it up since. But, maybe I should.

  22. So glad the reading slump is over - and look at you, 5 books read! I am putting the Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac on my TBR list. That sounds like a fun book.
    Hope you are still enjoying To Kill a Mockingbird. It took me a long time to finally get to the book - I never read it in high school or college either. One of these days I'd actually like to re-read it again.

  23. I'm another late comer to mockingbird - finished it last week and am kicking myself for not reading it sooner!


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