Dunc reads: Books from January and February ’09

Behold, a pile of books!

I started doing capsule reviews of the books I had read a back in January on my own, but it occurred to me this might be a feature you guys would enjoy. I’m honestly not much of a reviewer (or, if you’ve known me long enough, I’m way out of practice) but what the hell.

Territory by Emma Bull (PB)Territory by Emma Bull
I read this in bits and pieces over both months, and I’d probably need a dedicated reread before I could review it fairly. My first impression: It was okay, but it never really grabbed me. (Though to be fair, since I was reading in spurts it might not have gotten the chance to.) Maybe someone with more of an interest in the Old West (I have about zilch.) would get more out of it. [Amazon]

Harry, A History by Melissa AnelliHarry, A History by Melissa Anelli
Anelli is best-known in fandom as webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron, one of the biggest Harry Potter fan sites, and her book traces both the rise of the books in popular culture and the fandom surrounding them. I like HP, but I was never obsessed with it, and while I know some about the fandom, it was only in general terms and what made it on Fandom Wank. So I was rather surprised to find this book absolutely fascinating. It’s about three-quarters exploration of the fandom (covering such things as wizard rock, religious protesters and that one oh-so-controversial Rowling interview) and one-quarter memoir, and, if nothing else, a great primer on how fandom in general works. I suspect it might not be half as interesting to those who actually had front-row seats to things like the shipping wars, but for those of us on the periphery… Recommended. [Amazon]

The Neverending Story by Michael EndeThe Neverending Story by Michael Ende
I’m going to be honest: I mainly bought this because the cover art of this particular edition is gorgeous. And of course, as a child of the 80’s, I adored the movie. (Please don’t remake it, Hollywood.) Alas, I found the book much less fascinating. Of course, the movie only adapts half the story here… And maybe that’s why I was bored through the second half. I don’t know. Was it worth it? I’m not sorry, just a little sad that it didn’t live up to my childhood love. At least the cover is still pretty. [Amazon]

Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'EngleMeet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
Like any good geekling, I read the bulk of L’Engle’s Murry-O’Keefe books (A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) back in grade school. But I never tried her other, more earthbound series, featuring the Austin family. This is the first of them, and while I can’t say it’s going to knock Planet out of my top spot it was a nice quick read. I really need to remember to pick up the next two… [Amazon]

An Alphabetical Life by Wendy Werris
Werris has worked as a bookseller and publisher sales rep, and this book is a memoir of her life in the business. It was a nice peek into how things worked back before the chains took over, but I can’t say I was fascinated. [Amazon]

Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuinLavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin
(I actually read this book late last year. Consider it a bonus.) The title character is a pivotal yet all-but-unexplored character in Virgil’s The Aeneid, the daughter of the Latin king that Aeneas marries. LeGuin tells the tale from her perspective, giving her a voice in the story of the founding of Rome. There’s far more to it than that, but I should probably defer to the professionals on this one. Recommended. [Amazon, but you may want to wait for the paperback in April]

11 Replies to “Dunc reads: Books from January and February ’09”

  1. I had the fortune of reading “The Neverending Story” before I saw the movies. I think it works better that way.
    (I remember the book better than the movies anyway >_>)

  2. I’ve been afraid to read “The Neverending Story” because of exactly that nostalgia factor. I did not have nearly as much fun reading “The Princess Bride” in high school as I did watching it in elementary school.

  3. Just got back from the bookstore, and my Borders has the most disorganized ‘for young readers’ section I have ever seen. This Borders is generally crap, but this was above and beyond. Needless to say, I picked up no more L’Engle.

    Paula: I mostly saw ‘meh,’ reviews, but I enjoyed it.

    Sunnyskywalker: Strangely enough, I did not have this issue with The Princess Bride, which I read a few years ago. I suspect that it’s because Goldman wrote both the book and the screenplay, so they compliment each other better.

  4. JadesFire: You’re welcome! I’ll probably give it another chance down the road, but I have such a backlog right now…

    Cover snark, heh. Speaking of backlog, I do have a Hines’ book in there… Maybe I’ll even get to it this month.

  5. We had an older version with red and green text at the library where I worked in high school. So of course some people took it out and never brought it back.

    …Hmm. ::puts pretty version on library donation pile::

  6. “The Neverending Story” is one of those rare films that improves on the book. I also put “The Princess Bride” on that list.

    Even so, I think it is a good book. Not as fun as the movie. I certainly think the film makers were wise to only adapt the first half.

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