Posts Tagged ‘Time magazine’

faultJohn Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars (Penguin) continues to blaze in the literary sky, appearing on many best of the year lists. All credit to Time magazine for lauding the smart, funny and moving story of teens with cancer as its No. 1 fiction book of the year, even though other publications put it in the YA — young adult — category.

First published in January, the fourth solo novel from Green — who grew up in Orlando — was a pre-pub bestseller and garnered praise from the get-go with numerous starred reviews. It’s been optioned for a movie, is a Goodreads winner, and Barnes and Noble will issue a special hardcover collector’s edition next month. As far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t happen to a better book. I first read it last fall in a manuscript galley after signing a promise not to review it before publication. I laughed at the beginning, and then I cried later on, even as I smiled. Same thing when I recently reread it. Yes, it’s that good, and characters Hazel and Augustus that memorable.

It’s also a good time to be a YA author, with both realistic novels and fantasy titles finding large crossover audiences. Sure, the success of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy further enhanced YA’s popularity, but Harry Potter deserves the real credit. Not only did the series let grown-ups admit to reading kids’ books without apology, it also created a generation of readers thirsty for good books.

fairylandTime magazine’s No.5 fiction book for 2012 is also ostensibly a kids’ book, but anyone who loves layered storytelling and lush language will be enchanted by Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, paperback ARC). It’s a follow-up to last year’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which first introduced the Nebraska girl named September.

In the new book, nearly a year has passed since September has returned home, keeping her extraordinary trip to Fairyland a secret. But soon after she turns 13, a sweet, green-smelling wind ruffles the pages of her book, and September falls into Fairyland Below, where her lost shadow reigns as Halloween — the Hollow Queen — and old friends and new adventures await.

“The revolving door spun shut behind them and vanished. Satiny, perfect blackness greeted them, blacker than the Panther of Rough Storms in the midst of the most livid thundercloud, blacker than the ink-sodden page in Avogadra’s book. September’s eyes ached with trying to see through the crowblack air. Iago, being a cat, had a somewhat better time of it. He stepped forward carefully, his paws landing quietly as footsteps in snow.

“Someone lit a candle.”

Open Book: I read a lot of YA fiction, especially fantasy. I can recommend Aly Condie’s Reached (Penguin, purchased hardcover), the conclusion to the Matched trilogy; Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight (Little, Brown, purchased e-book), the second in a trilogy; Veronica Roth’s Insurgent (HarperCollins, purchased e-book), the second in the Divergent series; and Kerstin Gier’s Sapphire Blue (Henry Holt, paperback ARC), the second in the Ruby Red trilogy.

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Given that I generally prefer fiction to nonfiction, I was somewhat surprised by how many of the books I’d read in the All-Time Best 100 nonfiction books since 1923 — which was when Time  — as in the magazine — began.  http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2088856_2088860,00.html

Naturally, I’d read all the four nonfiction novels, including Capote’s In Cold Blood, although I would have subbed Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff for The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I also found favorites in autiobiography and memoir, biography, essays, history, social history, science, sport, food writing and war. But, where I wonder, are religion and travel? Ah, see history for Pagels’ The Gnostic Gospels, memoir for Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.

Mmm.  I’m pretty spotty in culture and politics, weak in ideas and business. I’ve never read Keynes or Chomsky, or Neibhur or Said, or a bunch of others.  And I really doubt these days that I’m ever going to get around to The Nature and Destiny of Man, or What Color is My Parachute?

I read nonfiction for the same reason I read fiction — for entertainment and enlightenment, and for narrative and story. Perusing this list, I note that my favorites in any category are mostly all good stories: All the President’s Men (politics), And the Band Played On (health), The Last Lion (biography), Slouching Towards Bethlehem (essays), Dispatches (war), The Best and the Brightest (history), and so on. Notable exceptions would be Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, which is marvelously written literary criticism/history, and Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, which is essential reading, and rereading, for writers.

Rereading is on my mind, because I’m on vacation and I’m immersing myself in old favorites. All novels, so far, although I did recently pick up A Moveable Feast again after reading The Paris Wife.

But there are a couple others, too, I will read again, like John Hersey’s moving Hiroshima and Virginia Woolf’s exhortation to readers, A Room of One’s Own.  I finally made it through William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich several years ago, so I’m not up  for that again. But  I’m not ruling out a rereading of Shelby Foote’s magnificent The Civil War. What a story! Which reminds me. Where is my paperback of Gone With the Wind?

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