June 5, 2014

a summer reading list

for Evelyn with love

This is most likely a list suggesting some summer reading. All of the books I am recommending are reasonably clean, although some of them are lighter than others. Or darker. 

The volumes before you have been chosen in the spirit of summer; rich with emotion and humanity, painted by character and vibrancy.

I. Percy Jackson & the Olympians // Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
“Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood.
If you're reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom and dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life."
They are definitely not stories made out of raw prose and literary magic, but they still resonate with vigor; with memories and adventure and vibrant action. These stories are about the characters. All of the characters are so vividly dynamic and developed over both series. I love the way Rick Riordan translated Greek Mythology into his own stories, and to me, the Percy Jackson books will always be the height of what the world can produce for light summer reading.

II. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
"Ten minutes can be a long time when you're waiting with a beating heart for something you don't understand, something you don't really want to know."
Cornelia Funke: the literary queen of my preteen years. I read The Thief Lord in two wet summer evenings, and it will still always be one of the stories I most remember. It's woven with Venice. It's woven with magic, with silver pavement and with dreams. I would also recommend Dragon Rider and the Inkworld Trilogy, also by Cornelia Funke. All of her stories have faerie dust threaded between the print.

III. The Man Who Was Thursday (A Nightmare) by G. K. Chesterton
“What are we going to do?" asked the Professor.
"At this moment," said Syme, with a scientific detachment, "I think we are going to smash into a lamppost.” 
This is quite heavier than the previous two recommendations. And considerably more insane. It's less of a story and more like the progression of a strange and philosophical nightmare; hence the subtitle. It's definitely worth the read. You'll be a bit bewildered when you close the book; a little unnerved with the absurdity. But it is still a wonderful rearrangement of letters, to me. Slightly allegorical, although I have a very vague idea to what the symbolism is referring. Feel free to plough through it as an intellectual stimulant, but don't swallow too much at one time. It could be slightly disastrous to your mental health. A good book, though.
A great book.

IV. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
“We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything.” 
 the plot (a very small list.):
1. an island
2. some boys
3. some smoke
4. some blood

It was terrifying. It was a very good book; vibrant and terrifying. It was terrifying because it seemed completely possible. This book is about humans, and humans are not very pretty if you take away law and order. William Golding wrote the sky and the earth and human children how they are, and it is a brilliant book.

V. Emily's Quest by Lucy Montgomery
“The ghosts of things that never happened are worse than the ghosts of things that did.” 
This book is full of my memories. There are emotions sliding out of the pages when I open them again and again. I've read many of Lucy M. Montgomery's novels, but the Emily books are the ones that resonated with me the most. The words are beautiful and rich with starlight. Ideal for late summer nights. The plot wasn't particularly captivating, but the body of the novel is made of of beautiful characters and description. This particular volume is the third in a trilogy, but could still possibly function without the first two. (A small confession: I did not read the middle book.)

VI. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
“The idea of going to the movies made Hugo remember something Father had once told him about going to the movies when he was just a boy, when the movies were new. Hugo's father had stepped into a dark room, and on a white screen he had seen a rocket fly right into the eye of the man in the moon. Father said he had never experienced anything like it. It had been like seeing his dreams in the middle of the day.” 
A beautiful book. It's built with film and clockwork steam, and it's about the movies. It's built with words and it's built with pictures. It's built with magic most of all.

VII. The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson
“But Loki's relations with Svadilfari were such that a while later he gave birth to a colt.” 
Enough said.

VIII. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams -- not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” 
Ah. This one.
This may be my favourite book. Not just in this list, but in the mortal world.
I've been putting off this one review for quite a few days now, because there's so much to say and I can't say everything. But for now, this book is both beautiful and ugly. Both passionate and sad. It's the warmth of summer and the harrowing chill of the flawed human race. It's not a happy book, because the people in it are not happy people. They are real people. And real people have sad stories.


  1. thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!! Ah I'm so excited. :) I'm half way through The Return of the King and then I will have to make the hard decision of which book to read! I have actually already read The Invention of Hugo Cabret and wow. What a beautiful book! Thanks again, this is awesome!

  2. I have read most of these. But The Thief Lord has been on my list for a while now. I am hoping to get to it soon. (Great list!!)

  3. Wow. I haven't read any of these. But now I shall read all of these.

  4. Hi, Abby! I nominated you for the Olaf Award on my blog! http://dreamsofanarnian.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-olaf-award.html
    ♥ grace anna rose ♥

  5. Percy Jackson!!???!!! Yay! I'd recommend the Artemis Fowl series if you haven't read them yet. It's quite similar to PJO, but I think I like Artemis Fowl just a tad bit more.