July 13, 2010

The Pile Diminishes

Hot summer days, perfect for lolling about with cool drinks and catching up on books in my pile. Here's what I've read recently:

Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book. One of the creepiest beginnings of any story I've read (that's meant as a compliment, by the way). Rather dark for a kid's book, and I believe Gaiman once said he didn't intend it as one. The tale of a boy raised by ghouls in a graveyard, loosely based on Kipling's "The Jungle Book". Not as terrifying overall as the jacket blurb claims, but certainly worth your time.

Noel Langley – The Land of Green Ginger. I came to this book via a recommendation from Gaiman (one of his interviews, I think). The original story has been around since 1937. This version comes from the man who wrote the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz. You could go crazy counting all the adverbs and dialogue tags, but the writing is witty and engaging. If you like flying carpets, floating gardens, genies, and Asian intrigue, this book is a treasure.

Diana Wynne Jones – Castle in the Air.  A follow-up of sorts to "Howl's Moving Castle", this tale follows a merchant who buys a rug with an attitude, falls in love with a princess, and rescues her from a wicked djinn. A good book to curl up with on a lazy afternoon.

Christopher Vogler – The Writer’s Journey. A book about mythic structure discussed in a previous post (6/15). This fabulous resource belongs in every writer's bookcase.

Robin McKinley – The Hero and the Crown. Often mentioned by Kristin Cashore ("Graceling") as a major influence. The story of a scorned princess thought to be powerless who discovers otherwise and finds herself torn between love and duty. I knew McKinley from a fairy-tale retelling ("Beauty"), and this book definitely lived up to my high expectations.

Kate DiCamillo – The Mysterious Journey of Edward Tulane. I know, I know, I idolize DiCamillo. I held off on this one, though, thinking the story of a haughty china rabbit wouldn't hold my interest. Should have known better. I devoured it in one setting and closed the book with tears in my eyes.

Familiar with any of these?


  1. None of these familiar to me but your descriptions make them sound very good.

  2. I just love that first sentence of The Graveyard Book - probably one of the most perfect beginnings I've come across recently.

    And The Hero and The Crown - I reread it recently as an adult and it is every bit as wonderful as I remember from my childhood. It has really stood the test of time. Good choices!

  3. I read The Graveyard Book awhile back and just recently listened to the unabridged audio. What a delicious treat! And I'm currently reading Vogler. I've had my copy for quite some time, but your discussion prompted me to actually PICK IT UP AND READ IT. :)

    Both The Hero and the Crown and the DiCamillo book are *very* tempting.

  4. Mystica: Hope you'll try at least one.

    Stephanie: I wonder how many tries it took for Gaiman to get that first line just right?

    VR: I'm not much for audio books, but I think Gaiman still has the videos from his "Graveyard" book tour on his website.
    Glad my post inspired you to read Vogler. He's so good!

  5. I'm not familiar with any of them, but I feel that I should be. And now my wish list grows.

  6. Medeia: With our wish lists and TBR piles, it's a wonder we don't go broke buying books!


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