This summer, as I exercised in the fitness room (yes, I can read and use the treadmill at the same time!), I read some interesting books. I met the author of The Dust of 100 Dogs, a YA (young adult) book by A.S. King (2009), this past March at the Tucson Festival of Books. The premise of the book is quite interesting: A teenage girl becomes a pirate in the 17th century, and she is eventually cursed to live 100 lives as dogs. When she finally returns in the 20th century as a human, her full focus is to recover the treasure she had buried three hundred years before. I also read, while exercising, The Memoir Club, ‘adult’ (as opposed to YA) fiction by Laura Kalpakian (2003) – a group of unlikely people attend a class to learn how to write their memoirs, and instead it becomes a group merged in friendship (while, meanwhile, working through their varied and many personal issues).
As antidotes to Twilight, I would recommend two of the vampire-themed books I’ve read this year: The Reformed Vampires Support Group by Catherine Jinks (2009) and Sucks to be Me by Kimberly Pauley (2009). Both YA novels have a different take on vampires. The first is about a group of outcast vampires who are trying to lie low and deal with the changes, or the lack thereof, in their lives. The second is about a girl who has grown up with vampire parents, but now she has to make the decision for herself if she is going to become one as well, or not.
I have read some more fascinating nonfiction this year (not YA) such as the following: Storm Warning: The Story of a Killer Tornado by Nancy Mathis (2007) – about tornadoes and the development of the science of meteorology and tornado warning systems-, Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life – new literary criticism that says that LIW’s daughter Rose wasn’t as involved in writing the Little House books as others claim and the reasons why - by Pamela Smith Hill (2007), Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica (2008) – about being a waiter and how tipping is very important, Stitches: a memoir by David Small (this is in graphic novel style) – about the author’s years growing up in a dysfunctional family and his cancer as a teen, Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Lizzie Skurnick (2009) – discusses humorously many favorite YA books mainly of the 1970s and 80s, and Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy (first published in 1973, republished in 2000) – a collection of rather morbid articles, reports and photos from 19th century Black River Falls as well as other Wisconsin locales.
This fall, I discovered several of the old “Career Romances for Young Moderns” in the
PS: If you haven’t read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008), I highly recommend it! It won the Newbery Medal earlier this year! A live, human boy is raised by ghosts in a cemetery in this story.