Extra Books – September 4 to September 11

  • The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
    • Published: June 2011 (English)
    • Genre: Science fiction
    • Why I picked it up: Reading the series
    • Rating: 3.5 stars
    • Challenges: Global | 100+
    • My Thoughts:
      • Oh look, another Haruhi book…this is the last one currently available in English, so I promise there won’t be anymore for a little while 😛
      • I like that the ‘Haruhi likes Kyon’…thing (I don’t know what to call it XP) is becoming very very obvious. It’s very sweet. I especially liked the part where Haruhi asks Kyon if there is anything going on between him and Yuki. Kyon is such an obvlious boy.
      • While I liked the third story (a novella called ‘Snowy Mountain Syndrome’), I was a bit surprised that Tanigawa never included any explanation for what happened. Usually Nagato knows what’s happening, or Koizumi has a theory, or Mikuru knows how to solve the problem. I hope that this is because the mystery will be explained at a later time…

Extra Books – August 29 to September 3

  • The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
    •  Published: November 2010 (English)
    • Genre: Science fiction
    • Why I picked it up: Enjoyed the first book in the series
    • Rating: 3.5 stars
    • Challenges: Global | 100+
    • My Thoughts:
      • I blazed through this volume! It had an intriguing premise: alternate universe-type where Haruhi goes to a different school and isn’t really very Haruhi-like. Which sounds dull, but you can count on Tanigawa to think up a crazy and attention-grabbing story.
      • That day three years ago…again, very central. I am excited to read more of this series, to see where it all ends up.
      • While I did enjoy this volume, the ending felt a bit rushed. What I liked best about this one was who turned out to be behind it all. It was very sad and melancholic.
  •  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    • Published: June 2011
    • Genre: ?? Mystery with a hint of horror (those words do not do it justice.)
    • Why I picked it up: Aware of Ransom Riggs (he made those early college videos of John Green :P), saw a tweet that he had a YA novel out, the title definitely made it sound like it was for me
    • Rating: 4 stars
    • Challenges: 100+
    •  My Thoughts:
      • I wasn’t overly impressed with the story. It held my attention, but seemed to be lacking something, that spark that makes me fall in love with a story…I did enjoy the writing style (it’s been awhile since I read a book told from the perspective of a teenage boy not knowing anything about the strange situation he finds himself in) and the characters (they were all relatively unique and had their own voices). It’s okay that the storyline is a little weak. The characters and the photos still make this a unique and delightful read.
      • Another aspect of the writing I liked was that it was creepy without being gory, romantic without being mushy, and sounded like a teen without being condescending or generally unrealistic. A nice balance, that is.
      • As I mentioned, I’ve been vaguely aware of Ransom Riggs’ online presence. I remember watching a video back in January where he discusses his hobby of collecting old photographs…
      • This book contains 44 photographs and the majority are (you guessed it) peculiar. I didn’t recall the above video until I was halfway through the book and I thought, ‘Hm, I wonder if these photos are real, from his collection?’ I flipped to the back and there was a list of where all the photographs came from and a paragraph declaring ‘All the pictures in this book are authentic, vintage found photographs, and with the exception of a few that have undergone minimal postprocessing, they are unaltered.’ This is what intrigues me most about the book and why I love it. I love to be inspired by photos and I love that this strange story developed from these wonderfully strange photos. And of course, it makes for a very different read, with the photos being seamlessly integrated into the storytelling. I’ve never read a novel like this one.

Philip Jose Farmer – To Your Scattered Bodies Go

Author: Philip Jose Farmer
Title: To Your Scattered Bodies Go
Series: Riverworld
Published: June 19712011
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Length: 201 pages
Genre: Science-fiction w/ historical characters
Target age: Adult
Why I picked it up: On my TBR list
Rating: 3.5 stars
Challenges: 2011 TBR Pile  | 100+
Buy: Chapters | IndieBound | Check your local bookstore!

When it comes to straight up science fiction, I am generally not interested. I was going to list the reasons why I’m not interested in science fiction, but I can’t even think of any reasons why I would be interested, so just assume all aspects of science fiction disinterest me. Now, this is coming from a massive Doctor Who and fantasy fan…it’s just different, okay? Scifi never seems to have enough creativity, intrigue or heart for me. Okay. Now that’s out of the way…
I picked up the first book in the Riverworld series fully aware that it is classified as ‘scifi.’ The premise intrigued me too much to pass it by. Everyone who ever lived is resurrected in a world consisting mainly of a river, edged by meadows, edged by impassable mountains. Everyone (well, everyone not including children who died before they turned five…). This means the reader encounters quite a cast of characters. The characters were what I liked best about this novel.

I felt like a lot of the theories held by the characters developed rather abruptly…suddenly they were referring to ideas with no explanation as to where those ideas came from. This made the various theories feel ‘fake’, like the author just handed them over to the characters and said ‘This is how it is.’ I would have liked to see the development of their theories. 

While I doubt I’ll ever finish the rest of the series (it’s still essentially a scifi series that’s too long to hold my attention…), this first book was intriguing and a good read for me to try something different.

Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs and Steel

Author: Jared Diamon
Title: Guns, Germs and Steel
Published: March 1997
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Length: 441 pages
Genre: Non-fiction (world history/anthropology/culture)
Why I picked it up: Interest in the topic
Rating: 4 stars
Challenges: 100+  
Buy: Chapters | IndieBound | Check your local bookstore!

This is a book I’ve owned for a few years but haven’t been quite ready to tackle until now. I signed it out from the high school library, read about 50 pages, realized it was a bit too much for me to take in at the time but would be something I would definitely enjoy at some point and so I bought it.  (Coincidentally, the following year in my world issues class, we watched the documentary based on the book.) For the past four or five weeks, it’s been my ‘weekend reading’ and I finally completed it last weekend.

Discuss general interest in the topic

Question asking format (admittedly, I’m a fan, but it’s done exceptionally well here. Asks specific questions, follows up immediately and specifically!) (ex. pg 197 second para)

Extra Books – August 15 to 21

Now that I’m home, I’ve decided that I should tackle some of the books on my bookshelf that have yet to be read…these two books from the shelf.

  • The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
    •  Published: October 2009 (English)
    • Genre: Science fiction
    • Why I picked it up: Enjoyed the first book in the series
    • Rating: 3.5 stars
    • Challenges: Global | 100+
    • My Thoughts:
      • I first encountered the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise when I watched the original anime in 2009. When I discovered that it was based on a series of novels, I read an unofficial translation online but didn’t get too pulled in. When I found out the books were finally going to be published in English, I bought each one as they were released but somehow never got around to reading them until now. 
      • One of my favourite aspects of this series is the design. I love the bold colours, the simple icons and the creative fonts.
      • While the first book is still my favourite, this book (and the following) continued to uphold the aspects I love about this series.  
  • The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
    • Published: July 2010 (English)
    • Genre: Science fiction
    • Why I picked it up: Enjoyed the first book in the series
    • Rating: 3.5 stars
    • Challenges: Global | 100+
    • My Thoughts:
      • See above 🙂
  • Zen Meditation In Plain English by John Daishin Buksbazen 
    • Published: 2002
    • Genre: Spiritual practice
    • Why I picked it up: Interested in Zen Buddhism
    •  My Thoughts:
      • Does what it says 😛 The author’s teacher is Taizen Maezumi, who compiled and edited one of the first books I read on Zen Buddhism. This is the first book I’ve read that was solely dedicated to Zen meditation, the aspect of Zen Buddhism I am most interested in. 
      • I appreciated the structure of this book (a very brief introduction to Buddhism, a person with little knowledge of Buddhism would need to look further than this book to understand), a large section on sitting meditation, and a smaller concluding section on community. This book helped expand some points I had read about in other books (such as hand position) and was overall useful in filling some of the gaps in my understanding. While I won’t be purchasing this one, I will be taking some notes! Which sounds a little silly, given that this book outlines a spiritual practice, something one shouldn’t really be taking notes on, but I ‘take notes’ because I am a newcomer to the practice and won’t focus on/think about some aspects of meditation at this stage without some form of a reminder.