6. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (195 pages) This book is an English teacher's dream. The voice of Jason, a middle school boy with Autism, is powerful and poetic, not to mention, full of meta literary allusions. Jason describes his lonely world from the viewpoint of a sympathetic, relatable, though possibly alien, outsider. Like any young person, like any person, Jason just wants to fall in love, to find a connection with someone, to be understood. He thinks that perhaps he has found that person in Rebecca, whom he meets online while writing stories. Instead, though, Jason just might find what everyone really needs: to accept and love themselves. A story that everyone can relate to, and needs to. Beautiful, powerful, engaging book, full of voice, empathy, character, style, and emotional resonance. Grade: A+
"The City of San Francisco is being stalked by a huge, shaved vampyre cat named Chet, and only I, Abby Normal, emergency backup mistress of the Greater Bay Area night, and my manga-haired love monkey, Foo Dog, stand between the ravenous monster and a bloody massacre of the general public. Which, isn't, like as bad as it sounds, because the general public kind of sucks ass."
"…and I don't have super powers and my evil is totally speakble. Fucksocks!"
"She'd been the first girl he'd had sex with while sober. She was the first girl he'd ever lived with. She was the first to take a shower with him, to drink his blood, to turn him into a vampire, and to throw him broken and naked through a second-story window. She was his first love, really. What if she sent him away?"
"My heart has been torn asunder, and I am faced with the revelation that my most awesome-haired mad scientist of passion may in fact be an uncaring assbag who has sullied my innocence and whatnot and then cruelly cast me aside. So, that sucks."
"I have found that if you roll up screaming like a madwoman, hair on fire, guns blazing, no one is going to mention the zit of your forehead."
7. Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore (309 pages) What I wouldn't give for a literary death match between Abby Normal and Bella Swan. I think we all know who'd win that fight.
The third and best in Moore's vampire Love Story trilogy finds Abby and Foo tracking down a herd of vampire cats, while their masters are trapped in bronze. But, not for long. And three very old, very pissed vampires are on their way to clean up the mess. Moore's trilogy is the weakest of all his books, particularly in terms of plot, but Moore is never a waste of time. His characters are hilarious, real, and entirely loveable, particularly that treasure of a narrator, Abby, whose sections are a completely golden. His stories are so original and refreshing, and, without a doubt, the best vampire books out there among a sea of vampire literary crap. Best of all is just his one-liners--both the profound ones and the hilarious ones, which are not exclusive to either superlative. Grade: A-
"The things we love destroy us every time."
"Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?"
"Love is the bane of honor, the death of duty…we are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy."
8. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (835 pages) This book was described to me as being Lord of the Rings meets The Godfather. True enough. It is all the subtle beauty of the epic fantasy of Lord of the Rings, with the engaging and fascinating intrigue, family politics, and the conflicts between love, duty, and honor of The Godfather. But I'd also toss in that it also contains a Dickensian/Harry Potteresque cast of fascinating, brilliant, real, characters--torn, tragic, corrupt, evil, noble, beautiful, ugly, warped, innocent, pathetic, hilarious, sympathetic, and horrific--that pull the reader into the story because they either love them or love to hate them. Game of Thrones is an utterly brilliant, and tragically rare, fantasy novel that is the perfect combination of engaging, surprising, and intricate storytelling and fascinating characters. The term "page turner" is overly used, but, here, apt as all hell. Grade: A
"Neither novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species."
"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books… which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal."
"I liked being a person. I wanted to keep at it."
"But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves.'"
"What a slut time is. She screws everybody."
"It's a fine poem but a deceitful one: We do indeed remember Shakespeare's powerful rhyme, but what do we remember about the person is commemorates? Nothing… (Witness also that when we talk about literature, we do so in the present tense. When we speak of the dead, we are not so kind.)"
"There are about fourteen dead people for every living person."
"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars."--Don Perignon after inventing champagne, to his fellow monks
"I find the reality of readers wholly unappetizing."
"The child who believes there is life after a novel ends."
"You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice."
"I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it--or my observation of it--is temporary?"
"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you."
9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (318 pages) Hazel is dying of cancer of the lungs when she meets Augustus Waters, whose cancer is in remission. Together, they attempt to visit and talk to the reclusive author of their favorite book in order to find the answers, not only left by the book's abrupt ending, but the answers to the meaning of life, particularly life that ends so early and abruptly. A plot that seems clichéd (death, dying, cancer, teenagers, love, reclusive authors), is absolutely transcendent. Hilarious, powerful, and utterly thought-provoking, The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly addictive, deeply refreshing, supremely clever, profoundly deep, delving into the very nature of love, life, death, fate, and art (that is, books) itself. The book is pure poetry, layers of meta diatribes on life and death and art and meaning, with no easy answers or easy abandonment of answers. Though the book happens to be about and written for teenagers, and though it is probably one of the greatest novels written for that age group (right along with The Outsiders, Speak, Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Stargirl), it far and away transcends the age group. This is a book for people who think and feel; their age is beside the point. Amazing, brilliant novel that I read in one day and thought about forever. Also, my copy is completely and totally dog-earred to shit. I wanted to eat bits of it. Grade: A+
"Mysterium tremendum et fascinans--that stomach flipping mix of awestruck fear and entrancing fascination."
"…wondered only how something that isn't there can hurt you."
"You can love someone so much. But you can never love people as much as you can miss them."
"…but he always had books. Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they'll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back."
"You're so goddamned scared of the idea that someone might dump you that your whole fugging life is built around not getting left behind. Well, it doesn't work, kafir. It just--it's not just dumb, it's ineffective. Because then you're only thinking they-might-not-life-me-they-might-not-like-me, and guess what? When you act like that, no one likes you."
"Dumpers are not inherently worse than Dumpees--breaking up isn't something that gets done to you; it's something that happens with you.
"Stories don't just make us matter to each other--maybe they're also the only way to the infinite mattering he'd been after for so long."
"And he was feeling not-unique in the very best possible way."
10. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (228 pages) Colin is a child prodigy who will never be anything but a smarty pants when he's dumped by his nineteenth girlfriend named Katherine. Hit hard, he embarks on a road trip with his best friend, overweight, cool and not socially-retarded Hassan. They make it all the way to Gunshot, TN, a small town where they find work recording the stories of the elderly residents and hanging with Lindsey, a girl who has made it her life work to be popular. As Colin works on his genius mathematical theorem of relationships (in relation to being dumped), he naturally begins to see what really matters. A brilliant, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching (because it's so tragically true for all of us) novel about intelligence and the heart that unravels it all, a novel about human nature and the human heart, whether you're sixteen or sixty. Not as great as John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, but, still, a brilliant, intelligent, clever, refreshing, hilarious, pensive, beautiful novel that transcends the audience it was written for. Grade: A-
2012 Page Total: 3960