What I read over winter break

January 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

The following books I list here I borrowed through InterLibrary Loans and you can too, or check your local library.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

I’ve never read Sedaris before though I’ve heard him multiple times on NPR and found him quite funny. Now I’m a little saddened that I’ve not read his books sooner! Holidays on Ice does have a Christmassy/Winter theme to it thanks in part to the title and the funniest essay “Santaland Diaries” in which Sedaris describes his time as a Macy’s elf. I would never want to be a Macy’s elf unless I were a humorist who could turn the trauma I witness into a funny essay. There are other Christmas-themed essays such as “Six to Eight Black Men” that discusses Dutch holiday traditions that are a hair short of twisted in the explanations. This short collection of essays is a perfect hair-of-the-dog for Christmas hangovers. In fact, you can listen to David Sedaris read “Santaland Diaries” on YouTube.

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

Slightly saccharine, this book is an enjoyable quick romance/mystery without being sickening. It’s easy and quick and over with before it becomes too sugary. And that’s the best I can do for selling this book. I was trying to get into the Christmas spirit when I borrowed this book and it was a nice amble through the prose, but overall I remain ambivalent. However, if you’re interested in trains then check out this Films on Demand video: Rail Transportation.

Blow by Blow by Detmar Blow

This book looks at the life and suicide of Isabella Blow a fashion industry icon as written and told by her husband, Detmar Blow. This is a quick and enjoyable biography, really more of a mini-biography, of Isabella Blow. I found the book hard to put down and the sad tale of her traumatized life was deftly handled by her husband. However, this is not the book for people who don’t know about Isabella Blow and are looking for more meat to who she was and what she did. Rather, this seems to be a book by Detmar Blow to explain what led up to his wife’s suicide–the missing acknowledgment and appreciation from fashion industry stars whom she discovered and helped, a damaged childhood, low self-esteem–rather than a living memory of who she was and still is to the fashion world. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy light and fascinating biographies about random people and to those who know who Isabella Blow was and want to get a skimming of her personal life and the tragedy within it.

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

This is book 2 in his young adult series about Tally Youngblood who has gone from being an Ugly to a Pretty. This is a dystopian teenage fantasy in which the physical imperfections are altered once they reach 16 and everyone one is made beautiful but also turned into sheep. Tally and her new friend Zane are the black sheep in this tale. They refuse to be lied to any further or allow themselves to not act. They escape to join the Smokies, those pre-prefect human beings who have zits and imperfect teeth and who take in Pretties who no longer wish to be lied to. Initially Tally’s world is beautiful and indeed perfect–there’s no more waste, no more pollution, there’s greater safety and security and fun–but upon closer inspection it is like a giant hamster cage with lots of diversion. You can read more about this book and its series on Wikipedia and on Westerfeld’s website. If anyone has teenagers then this is a great series for the teens and if anyone still has a bit of a teenager inside them still then this is a fun book for you too!

Nightlight: A Parody by Harvard Lampoon

Harvard Lampoon put out a parody of Twilight. This is an enjoyable groaner of a book in which all things you’ve hated about Twilight get impaled. This was a quick and enjoyable read. I think people who are sick of Twilight would get some enjoyment out of the book, but ultimately you really would need to either have seen the movies or read the books to understand a bit more about what’s being made fun of such as Bella’s mother or other minor characters. Edwart (not Edward) is a nerd and not a vampire though Belle Goose (not Bella Swan) believes Edwart to be one; he also has little interest in girls though Belle won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Read the first chapter on Entertainment Weekly online.

The Wolf Sea and The White Raven by Robert Low

These two titles are the 2d & 3d book respectively of the Oathsworn series by Robert Low. This is truly worthy of the title ‘saga’ as this tale sweeps you from comfortable hearth fire to the open, icy seas all the way to deserts as we vik along with Orm Bear Slayer, recently made jarl, to find Atil’s hoard (Attila the Hun’s burial treasures) in the company of a certain young prince named Vladimir. This is such a grand tale that I wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone who loves historical fiction whether you’re young or old! Why are you still reading? Go and get these books now! The first in the series is The Whale Road. Also take some time to watch this Films on Demand video “Vikings” and learn!

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