Archive | Fiction RSS feed for this section

A Librarian Takes on the Read Harder Challenge: Crazy Rich Asians for Task 6, and Drama for Task 7

12 May

A week’s vacation and a seasonal-allergies-induced sinus infection have given me a lot of recent downtime to read. As a result I’ve made more progress on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge! I have completed FOUR tasks since my last post. I will write about two tasks here, and the next two in another post.

(Click here to read more about my Read Harder journey.)

crazy-rich-asians

Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan

For my sixth task (Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color) I chose to read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, which was long on my to-read list. This novel starts with Nick Young inviting his girlfriend Rachel Chu to accompany him to Singapore for a wedding and to meet his family. What Nick fails to tell Rachel is that the wedding is the hottest social event in Asia, and that his family is crazy-super-mega-wealthy, making him the most eligible bachelor among Singapore’s elite. Poor Rachel is the lamb brought to the slaughter on what she thinks will be a fun vacation with her boyfriend.

Each chapter alternates between the points of view of Nick and Rachel, Nick’s cousin Astrid Leong (one of the few relatives in Rachel’s corner but experiencing her own struggle in the b-plot), and Nick’s tenacious mother Eleanor. Be prepared to armchair-travel when the novel moves between London, Paris, Singapore, Shanghai, Macau, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Sydney, and other exotic locations.

The story was super dishy–the characters like to gossip. The descriptions of the palatial homes and the luxe places the rich live and gather will make your jaw drop. What spoke to me was the food talk that may make you hungry. Singapore is known for its markets with street food stalls that I want to explore. In particular, I want to try goreng pisang (deep-fried banana fritters). I am by no means wealthy enough to hang with real crazy rich Asians, so the street markets are most likely within my budget.

Crazy Rich Asians will shock you, make you laugh, and make you hungry. If you don’t read the book, definitely see the film adaptation (shooting now) when it hits theaters. I look forward to reading China Rich Girlfriend and the upcoming Rich People Problems, all part of the Crazy Rich Asian series.

drama

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

In the seventh task I completed (A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country) I read Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Drama follows Callie, who is part of her middle school’s drama club stage crew, as she and the cast and crew prepare for an upcoming musical production. She has a couple romances, including one with a boy who realizes he is gay. The inclusion of gay characters resulted in challenges (which are formal, written complaints submitted to a library about a book’s content) and bans (removal of a challenged book from a library’s shelf) of this book. For more on the case of Drama, click here to read an analysis by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. At this link is a roundtable discussion including librarians about challenges against Drama.

I was familiar with Telgemeier’s work, having read her graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club (my favorite books to read as a kid!) and Ghosts, which is set during a Dia de los Muertos festival (a celebration I am fond of) and is an emotionally devastating story.

As a musical theater geek, I enjoyed how the book was set up with an overture and acts like an actual musical. I love the diverse characters Telgemeier incorporates into her stories and the sensitive way she addresses tough topics in her work. Also, I got a kick out of Callie’s annoying little brother Richard, as an annoying little sister myself. I plan to read Smile and Sisters, also by Telgemeier.

Stay tuned for my next post, about Tasks 7 and 8!

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

It Came from the Interwebz: Books that Started Out as Online Phenomena

10 May

Since we are a blog about books, and I love all things meta, I thought it would be fun for this blog post to look at print books that started their life on the internet that I’m going to suggest online that you go read in print (though you can enjoy some of them in digital format too if you don’t want to leave your computer).

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

girl-circumnavigated-ship
In Valente’s novel, Palimpsest, she had a character discuss a book they read as a child, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (at the time the book did not exist). Valente then began what would become Fairyland as a crowd-funded project and published the story online about a lonely young girl, whose father is off fighting and mother is busy working at a factory to help the war efforts, while she is lured to fairyland.  Although appropriate for middle graders, the story equally charms teens and adults with its wildly imaginative description of a fairy land which feels both fresh and modern and yet hearkens back to earlier fairy tales.  It reminded me of the magic and wit of the Oz books.  You will also want to check out others in the series including: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, and The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home.  You can borrow several of the books as digital audiobooks from Hoopla.  I had previously blogged about Valente’s fantastic adult novel Radiance in a previous post and dubbed it one of my favorite books of that year.

Welcome to Night Vale, by Fink Joseph

welcome-night-vale
If you are fans of podcasts you have probably at least heard of Night Vale which reached the top of the iTunes chart and well deserves its popularity.  In the small desert town of Night Vale odd things like floating cats and mysterious disappearances are recounted as ordinary daily events by the host of a local radio broadcast.  I love that podcasts like this one bring back the storytelling of radio dramas for a new age.  Just be forewarned the librarians in Night Vale aren’t the helpful, friendly staff you will find at HPL, but creatures to be feared.  Welcome to Night Vale expands on the events of the podcast.  You can also borrow Mostly Void, Partially Stars : Welcome to Night Vale episodes, Volume 1 and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 2 which include material from the podcast as well as art, commentary, and a peek behind the scenes.  You can borrow eBook and digital audiobook copies from eLibraryNJ.

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, by Jen Yates

cake-wrecks
The award winning blog Cake Wrecks started out when Jen Yates saw an unintentionally funny cake reading “Best Wishes Suzanne Under Neat that We Will Miss You.” She found other cakes that were misspelled (like my son’s fourth “birthay” cake), poorly (and therefore hilariously) iced, and just plain silly. Although the cakes are funny in and of themselves, it is Yates witty writings that brings back readers for more delicious helpings. Like the blog, the book includes pictures of cakes with her commentary (75% of which is not also featured on the blog). If you need to take a quick laugh break from holiday stress, checkout the sequel Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets “Festive.”   You can borrow Wreck the Halls as an eBook on eLibraryNJ.

Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them, by Jillian Venters

gothic-charm-school
Jillian Venters took her popular Gothic Charm School site and transformed it into a Miss Manners guide for those who want to be both darkly spooky and polite.  It includes such practical information as what to wear on a job interview and how to handle disapproving family members.  My husband and I attended the book launch potluck tea party in Green-Wood Cemetery when it came out back in 2009.  Although obviously the years have passed and some reference may not be as au courant, there is still some solid timeless advice in the book for the alternative set.

John Dies at the End, by David Wong

john-dies-end.jpg
A recommendation from my husband, David Wong’s comic horror novel, John Dies at the End, began life as a free web serial by Cracked writer/editor David Wong (aka Jason Pargin). My husband was a fan of the humor site Cracked (which arose from the ashes of its print counterpart) and introduced me to it around the time of my son’s birth, a period where being up for what seemed at times like 24 hours made a good laugh a necessity.  Think of the novel as what would happen if the raunchy, clueless characters of Clerks or Harold and Kumar were living in HP Lovecraft’s Innsmouth. A sequel This Book Is Full of Spiders, was published in 2012. John Dies at the End was adapted into a 2013 movie which you can borrow from Hoopla. Scheduled to be released in October will be What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror.

Want more?  You can also read several previous posts were I discussed books that were birthed from blogs including:
Voracious
based on Cara Nicoletti’s blog Yummy Books
Molly on the Range for fans of Molly Yeh’s blog My Name is Yeh
Adulting How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps based on Kelly Williams Brown’s blog, Adulting
Bon Appétempt based on Amelia Morris’s blog Bon Appétempt
Eating Wildly arose from Ava Chin’s Urban Forager blog for the New York Times
My Berlin Kitchen comes from Luisa Weiss’s blog, The Wednesday Chef
Plus you can read about fanfiction inspired books and DVDs to checkout in a previous post. 

Have other picks for books that made the transition from the internet to print?  Share them in the comments!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

%d bloggers like this: