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What I Read Wednesday

Posted Dec 18 2013 9:27am
Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail (Outdoor Lives)
I was one of the people who didn't really care for the book Wild. I knew it was a memoir, but I found myself not that interested in the author's journey of self-discovery and blah blah, but I came out of the book really fascinated by the Pacific Crest Trail and have been having one of those Langston Hughes "what happens to a dream deferred?" moments ever since. Like, I really want to hike the PCT someday, even though by all accounts the actual hiking of it sounds miserable and I would have to split it into two summers, unless I wait until I'm retired and would I still be able to hike that far when I'm retired? Probably not. But I really want to do it someday, so I've read as many books as I can on the subject. This book is technically about hiking the John Muir Trail, which splits from the PCT, but it was still a good read. While it was a memoir, the author still gave good, vivid descriptions of the wilderness and I felt that she gave apt descriptions of the differences in hiking in the wilderness for men vs women, in terms of fear and safety. She did an excellent job of balancing her insights on the beauty of the nature on the trail with her thoughts on hiking, her trail partners and the people she meets on the trail. This was a really good read.

The Book Thief
I've been wanting to read this one for quite awhile, but the wait list at the library was miles long. I was so excited when it finally came in, especially because I'm teaching The Diary of Anne Frank and about the move on to The Devil's Arithmetic next. Good timing! This story was fascinating. It is narrated by Death, giving it an entirely unique point-of-view. First person but also third person, in a way. Death is, as you can imagine, quite busy during World War II. Death is detached because he's so busy and yet, he tells us that he always cradles the souls of children in his arms. From the outside, Death observes a young girl named Liesel who is a book thief, stealing her first book following the death of her brother. As the story and the war unfolds, so does Liesel's journey. It's difficult to discuss the plot without giving much away, but suffice to say, this was a beautiful story, with even more beautiful prose--and yes, I was sobbing at the end. Read it.

Attachments
I love Fangirl and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, so I really wanted to read this. One thing the author does is write characters really well. Lincoln is the IT guy that everyone who works dreads: the guy who reads your emails if they web filter flags a word. One day, he comes across a series of emails by Jennifer and Beth, but he doesn't warn them. The next day, he doesn't warn them again. As the story unfolds, it switches between Lincoln's life and Beth and Jennifer's perspective, told via their emails. As always with her stories, the characters are engaging and fascinating and you feel like you know a piece of them when you finish the story.

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