I did a lot this July. And by that I mean I left the house (multiple times!), read a bunch of books, wrote a lot, and actually ate salad. I am very proud of myself. It’s amazing what you can do with a whip behind you or a school in front of you APPROACHING AT AN ALARMING RATE, RATTLING THE CHAINS WITH WHICH IT WILL ENSNARE YOU FOR THE NEXT THOUSAND YEARS AND SUCK YOUR LIFE AWAY.
More or less.
College starts back up near the end of August, so if I want to read or write anything, I need to do it NOW.
So that’s what I’ve been doing.
Me: “I’m preparing for the semester.”
Good Student: “Did you get your books yet?”
Me: “Yeah! I got lots!”
Good Student: “Me too!” *holds up textbooks*
Me: *hides hoard of fiction behind my back*
Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
This book was about alternate universes and such. There were some interesting ideas. Unfortunately, the characters weren’t anything amazing. I liked the main character well enough, but most of the other characters weren’t introduced until part two and I had a hard time getting attached to them.
Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
I liked the writing in this book and the perspective (the narrator was a boy with autism), but… nothing much happened. It was essentially a school story and I got a little bored.
The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
So, I watched the movie adaption of this before I read it (Oh, horror! Catastrophe appalling!), and then saw it at the library and decided to read it. Basically the whole book was in the movie, sometimes word for word (’tis a very wee book), but I still enjoyed reading it. The language was simple and overall it felt like an extensive picture book. There was something beautiful and humbly profound in its simplicity, though sometimes I wasn’t sure what.
Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce
There is something about William Joyce’s books that I am drawn to. Something charming and quirky and genuinely child-like, though sometimes they feel a little too obviously geared towards a younger audience. Still, I enjoyed reading about this book about a stuffed rabbit, his six-year-old owner, and a bitter and broken clown doll (which was weird because clowns are TERRIFYING. But I was ok with this guy).
Also, the pet rock. THE PET ROCK.
Flights by Jim Shepard
Every once in a while I think, “Why don’t I read adult books?” And then I read an adult book and say, “Ah, yes. That’s why.” Is all adult literature depressing?! This book was well written, and the characters were well done. I liked the main kid and I empathized with him. But then life was just so AWFUL and then it ended and NOTHING WAS RESOLVED.
I’m not bitter or anything.
Arcady’s Goal by Eugene Yelchin
This book is about a kid in communist Russia whose parents were arrested for being “enemies of the people.” He has grown up in various “children’s homes” (basically prison camps) for the children of “enemies of the people.” At age 12 he is adopted by an actually decent person, but he doesn’t understand that people can actually be decent and kind because the poor kid has never been exposed to decent human beings. The way he reacts to things can be funny and make you want to cry at the same time. Also there are pictures.
Something Invisible by Siobhan Parkinson
This book is about a boy who loves fish. He likes to watch fish. He wants to paint fish. He goes fishing. He gets post cards with pictures of fish.
But actually, the whole book isn’t about fish.
It’s about a boy who isn’t sure what to think of his new baby sister and a girl with multiple sisters who befriends said boy. They eat cherries and cake. Also it’s set in Ireland so huzzah for that. Nothing much happens (except something sort of big which is referred to on the cover flap, but it doesn’t happen until almost the very end, so SHUSH you silly cover flap), but it’s well written and I liked the characters, especially the main character.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I thought this was going to be frightfully creepy. After all, it is about a boy who is raised by dead people. But, even though it was set in the real world, the tone was very fairy tale-ish, so it wasn’t actually disturbing. I liked the writing, and the characters. I thought the world of the graveyard was well built and there were some interesting ideas. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the climax and there was a random prophesy thrown in that felt like a let down. But for the most part, I enjoyed it.
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
This book is about a Jewish boy during Word War II. Is it depressing? ….Need you even ask? But it was SO GOOD. The writing and story-telling was remarkable. Things happen so abruptly, catching you off guard like giant crate of shampoo bottles dropping on your head: sudden, painful, very very wrong, yet terribly right. I love Aron so much. He cries so much which makes ME want to cry. But it never just says, ‘And then I started crying.’ He’s just going along, telling the story and then suddenly someone asks him why he’s crying.
WHY AM I CRYING?!
And there’s a scene where someone asks why he’s crying and he responds by saying, “My eyes do this. I don’t know why.”
And then I hug the book so tight it shatters my heart and I need help.
Firstly: I WROTE A SECOND DRAFT!
In order to fully appreciate how amazing this is, you must understand: I do not know how to edit. I have never edited a book IN MY LIFE.
I wrote a book in June. I wrote a second draft in July. I expect I will be taking over the world by the end of August.
Secondly: A friend of mine challenged a group of us to write a short story about a character who is completely unlike us.
AND I DID IT.
It’s a long-short story (currently 9,199 words). In my notes I likened the plot unto a wet noodle, but ANYWAY. There’s always room for improvement.
Of course, writing about someone who is completely unlike you can be difficult because… you don’t know anything.
This kid is supposed to be really into baseball so there was a scene where they were at a baseball game and I literally wrote this:
“Some of the parents were cheering as enthusiastically as if it was the [whatever the big baseball thing is??].”
I knew it wasn’t the Superbowl. I knew it wasn’t the World cup.
(In case you are like me and are wondering, “What is the big baseball thing?”, it’s the World Series. I know that now.)
I ate salad. I think I already said that. But seriously. I ate a LOT of salad. I think I had salad something like 5 times in ONE WEEK. Be proud of me.
I set foot outside. I braved the elements, the scorching sun and the heat that rises from the pavement in stifling waves. I went out into the sun of my own free will… to walk to the library where it was air-conditioned and there were books.
There was this one times I jumped off the couch five times in a row, pretending to be a super-hero… (Oh wait, that was this morning. Which isn’t July anymore.)
Did I actually do anything else?!
I guess not.
What about you? Did you do anything other than hide in a cave, reading and writing? Were you attacked viciously by any books? Have you been making progress writing, or have all your stories folded themselves into paper airplanes and flown away? Is it worth it to risk death by spontaneous combustion to reach the library?