LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS by David Sedaris
I vaguely remember watching an interview with David Sedaris on The Daily Show or Colbert, when he was promoting Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. At the time, I saw the book everywhere and always had it in the back of my mind to pick up the next time I went book-shopping. Evidently, I never did that. But it was the same with this book, always seeing it, and people recommending David Sedaris to me — except that this time, I did get it. And then I read it. SO THERE!
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls is a series of short stories, some autobiographical, and others clearly works of fiction told be an assortment of characters, including a teenage girl with a fake British accent. I liked it, but not enough to rush out and get another one of his books. This is in part because I heard Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is not actually that good. But I’ve heard good things about some of his previous work, so I don’t know!
If anyone thinks there are other David Sedaris titles I should absolutely read, please to be telling me about it.
HYPERBOLE AND A HALF by Allie Brosh
When the Internet and print media collide! I’ve been following Allie Brosh’s blog, Hyperbole and a Half, for many years, and her story-telling skills make me both envious and very happy. She has good stories accompanied by endearing graphics, and you should read her blog! There’s no risk involved, except the risk of accidentally reading the entire thing in one sitting. My favourite is her Adventures in Depression series, because it gives me feels. That series is included in the book, so I get to hold it in my arms and nuzzle it against my face because that is a totally normal thing to do.
I read this by the pool one time, and it was nice. If you like excellent, heartfelt storytelling and a cartoon protagonist with manic facial expressions, read Hyperbole and a Half.
THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness
The Chaos Walking series has been on my radar since it came out in 2008, but I just never thought it was for me. It turns out, I was wrong.
It’s set in a kind of post-apocalyptic world, when the situation on Earth has gotten so bad that it has spurned a substantial amount of people to leave and colonise a new planet, “New World”. Once they arrived on this new planet, they discovered that something on it caused the animals to talk, and for the thoughts of men (but not women) to be broadcast out loud as Noise.
The book follows Todd Hewitt, a month away from becoming a man (i.e. his thirteenth birthday) in Prentisstown, where all the women and girls mysteriously disappeared shortly after his birth. It’s a sort of super-intense coming-of-age story — Todd meets his first girl ever, Viola, and slowly understands more about Prentisstown and New World. There is a lot of running in this book; some would say that it is mostly running, and tragedies.
There are so many tragedies that come one after the other that I’m pretty sure this is what reading A Song of Ice and Fire feels like, if that series was written for children (so, minus the rape and everyone you love dying) (people still die, but not everyone). And then it ends on a massive cliffhanger, so obviously the book I started reading immediately after was…
THE ASK AND THE ANSWER by Patrick Ness
I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
And what happened next was chaos and much yelling (from me, but also from characters in the book), and more revelations about New World. In this, Todd and Viola get separated by two political factions where they have to make some pretty big decisions re: loyalty, and they have no way of contacting each other and it is just so incredibly stressful.
I was expecting the story to delve into Romeo and Juliet levels of awfulness, but thankfully it never did. I suppose the story would have been too painful if the two protagonists mistrusted each other on top of dealing with an insane dictator and a planet on the brink of war.
The Ask and the Answer was just as intense as The Knife of Letting Go, but it was super-draining to read. Literally, as I went to the bookstore to pick up the final book in the series, I flicked through the pages, and was suddenly like “nope, can’t read any more of this world just yet. Where are the funny books, oh my God I feel like I haven’t laughed in years”. Which is why the first couple of books I am reading in March are not dystopian novels.
Well, one of them is. But it’s not as bleak as the Chaos Walking series.
Why do books make me feel so much?