"After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all--the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things which are worst for them."
41. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (223 pages)
Ninth time reading.
Still makes me sob.
Still the best fantasy series ever written. Still one of the greatest books ever written.
My personal favorite aspect of JKR and the Potterverse is the characters, how rich each one is, how deep and fascinating, and how each one has such a complex story, each story being worthy of its own book. No other book is so rich upon a reread.
Though the first book is certainly the weakest, so much of it is still so beautiful and powerful. The Mirror of Erised. Harry facing Voldemort. Harry's photo album of his parents. Dumbledore's wise words about death, a theme that permeates the entire series. A theme that JKR treats with incredibly beauty, tragedy, triumph, power, and philosophy.
"You've come a long way…" "Not as far as you have, Jacky, but then, I don't have the same equipment."
42. My Bonny Light Horseman by L.A. Meyer (436 pages) The infamous Jacky Faber is finally caught by the English intelligence agency. Enroute back to England, she finds herself in a French prison, then as a spy for the English in France (as a dancer), and eventually as a messenger in Napoleon's army. It's all typical high adventure through 19th century history for our cross-dressing young adventuress. Jacky is just as fallible and loveable as ever, complex and tragic, deeply powerful, heroic and real, and utterly brilliant and passionate. Not since Scarlett O'Hara as any heroine been so extraordinary, so magnificently written, so absolutely delightful and wondrous. Meyer writes Jacky's voice perfectly, giving her wonderful character and pathos, making her thoroughly charming and loveable, while also being flawed and deeply human, a young girl striving just to survive and to take care of those she loves, but who manages to be an extraordinary (and real) heroine in extraordinary times. History is told in no preachy or didactic manner (as so many young adult and adult books tend to be, managing only to be unrealistic and boring), but, in Meyer's hands, it is a realistic and unflinching perspective of a real and average person caught up in it all. What a brilliant series this is. I love taking Jacky on my summer vacation each year. Grade: A+
"That's one form of magic, of course." "What, just knowing things?" "Knowing things that other people don't know."
"As you grow older, you'll find most people don't set foot outside their own head much."
"They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance."
"Although his body had been around quite a lot, his mind had never gone further than the inside of his own head."
"It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done."
"The blow a baby gets to introduce it to the world and give it a rough idea of what to expect from life."
"Didn't I always say to you that if you use magic you should go through the world life a knife goes through water? …It's not darkness that calls Them, it's light, light that creates the shadows!"
"There were more old people. The world was full of them." "Yes, I know. And now it's full of young people. Funny, really. I mean, you'd expect it to be the other way around."
"Children throw us all away sooner or later."
43. Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (183 pages) A wizard bestows Esk with his powers and staff at her birth. Yes, her birth. Opps. Granny Weatherwax tries to channel Esk's powers into that of a witch, but, naturally, it doesn't quite work, so, eventually, she tries to bring Esk to the Unseen University, where Esk will really clean up. The bathrooms. Pratchett once again brilliantly, refreshingly, with love and hilarity plays with the fantasy genre and its clichés, bringing new meaning in this battle of the sexes (between wizards and witches, two differing brands of magic and outlooks on life, both of which, at the end of the day, seem rather narrow). Pratchett not only can weave a stunningly new and clever tale, but weaves words into a charming, beautiful, mind-twizzling tapestry that makes one savor paragraphs and dog-ear pages. Grade: A+
44. The Celestial Globe (The Kronos Chronicles Book II) by Marie Rutkoski (293 pages) Petra and her father are attacked by the Gray Men, and she is rescued by the mysterious cruel, yet kind, John Dee and brought to his house in England, where she meets his equally puzzling family and the charming, secretive sword master Kit. Soon, Petra finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery and a quest for the Celestial Globe, a map of "loopholes" of travel. Meanwhile, her friends Neel and Tomik are rushing to her rescue. Rutkoski weaves a magical story taking place in an alternative 17th century Europe, where magic and political intrigue fill the air, where real historical figures are as deeply intriguing as Rutkoski's own characters. Deeply, cleverly imaginative, this series is what young adult fantasy literature should be. Reminiscent of the late great Diana Wynne Jones. Grade: A
"One thing about great art: it made you love people more, forgive them their petty transgressions. It worked in the way that religion was supposed to."
"It was hopeless, life, really. It was set up all wrong."
"The trick to doing nothing, as far as he was concerned, anyway, was not to think while you were doing it. The trouble with going to see bands is that there wasn't much else to do but think, if you weren't being swept away on a wave of visceral or intellectual excitement…Mediocre loud music penned you into yourself, made you pace up and down your own mind until you were pretty sure you could see how you might end up going out of it."
"She knew that she could not make herself understood. How could she, when she wasn't able to use some of the cornerstones of her vocabulary--words like Atwood and Austen and Ayckbourn? And that was just the As. It was terrifying, the prospcet of having to engage with another human being without those crutches. It meant exposing something else, something more than bookshelves."
"Musicians had been assholes since the day the lute was invented."
"Do even you know how dense that was? I still haven't peeled it all away, I don't think, even after all this time. I don't pretend to understand what those songs meant to you, but it's the forms of expression you chose, the allusions, the musical references. That's what makes it art. To my mind… I don't think people with talent necessarily value it, because it all comes so easy to them, and we never value things that come easy to us. But I value what you did on that album more highly than, I think, anything else I've heard."
"She had genuinely believed that not doing things would somehow prevent regret, when, of course, the exact opposite was true."
"She was trying to say that the inability to articulate what one feels in any satisfactory way is one of our enduring tragedies."
"Because whenever you read anything about love, whever anyone tries to define it, there's always a state or an abstract noun, and I try to think of it like that. But actually, love is…Well, it's just you."
45. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (404 pages) 1980s singer-songwriter and current "genius recluse" Tucker Crowe released the demo tracks of his famous album, Juliet. Duncan (a devoted obsessive fan) and Annie have such differing opinions on it that it breaks apart their fifteen year relationship. Then, Annie finds herself conversing with Tucker online. Through these three characters, Hornby examines the nature of art, where it comes from and where it goes, the relationship between the artist and fan, between art and reality, just where the meaning comes from, and the very nature of life and love itself in this brilliant, fascinating, thought-provoking, and funny novel. Hornby just doing his thing. Wonderfully. Grade: A
2011 Page Total: 11907