Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two Magical Books

That was an awesome moon last Saturday, huh? Almost as big and as round as my face!

Today let's look at two magnificent works of literature. In my mind, they're linked because they underline the point that no individual is truly alone -- we are all our family, our friends, strangers, enemies, all the way to people we've never met. We are not just us when we each make the construct "I."

Also, the books below are connected by a thread of pure magic, the magic that lets us peer into the lives of others and immerse ourselves happily in a world of someone else's making: the magic of good writing! sparklesparkle

Magical Book A--The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)
Summary: Oscar struggles under the curse laid down against his family by a Dominican dictator. Or maybe life. 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a paradise: it talks about history, it brims with S&F references, it examines heavy themes with a light heart, and best of all, it expanded my arsenal of Spanish swear words. (Swear words: the first things you learn in a foreign language.)

Junot Díaz, MIT writing professor and all-around awesomesauce person, won super sexy writing awards for this work, and boy did he deserve it. His characters are beautifully drawn; the narrative style brilliant; the themes resonant; and the stories that unfold wrench places in your soul that you're thankful you still have.

This is the kind of book that will make me do a Rage Quit if they decide to make a movie version. And then I'd watch the movie, obviously.

Highly, highly recommended.

Commercial break: Tell your friends about the Fragrant Elephant comic site! Must love cats and potential dogs.

Magical Book B--The Book Thief  (2005)
Summary: Death tells us the story of the book thief, a young girl who grows up in Nazi Germany. 

International award-winning Australian author Markus Zusak killed me with this book. The novel is set in Germany when the crazy was in power, and the main character's coming-of-age tribulations read like having your heart ripped out of your chest, especially when [THIS SECTION DELETED DUE TO MASSIVE SPOILERS].

Appropriately, with all the death going around, Death serves as book's narrator. Death  takes special interest in the protagonist, whom he/she/it calls the book thief. Death's narrative bombast and flair (center-aligned bold text often pops up) is Zusak's unique approach to telling an essentially simple story. The orphan Leisel goes to live with the Hubermanns, who give her the love and home she needs. They also end up hiding a Jewish fistfighter in their basement. In between, lots of soccer/ football is played, boys are incorrigible, and international and domestic events are distinctly happiness-free.

This book is also highly, highly recommended.


This has been your faithful bookworm, reporting from the front lines of the war against ennui. Tune in next post, when I babble about a topic that comes to me in a flash of inspiration!

Summer Book Recommendations