Satisfying Book Experiences of 2008 (Part II)

Happy New Year, everybody.  Here are a few more of my favorite book experiences to round out the year.

howls-moving-castleHowl’s Moving Castleby Diana Wynne Jones.  Howl is a hard wizard to pin down–even his castle is always on the move.  The young Sophie Hatter, an equally interesting protagonist, has to navigate her way through a maze of obstacles to find her fortune while under a spell that’s transformed her into an old woman.  Diana Wynne Jones brilliantly combines good old-fashioned storytelling with original, telling details.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.  I read these books back to back, in the same month.  Two very different experiences of course.  One is the story of an older man with an inappropriate, stalker-like attraction to a barely pubescent girl who, surprisingly, reciprocates his interest, and the other book is… oh wait….  Really, though, Nabokov’s brilliant sentences and mastery of human psychology make Lolita well worth reading and re-reading, and Twilight is a fun, fast read. 

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is Wondrous (though not brief)

Oscar Wao is an overweight nerd in New Jersey who dreams of one day becoming “the Dominican JRR Tolkien.” More than anything, Oscar wants a girlfriend, but the gals are sadly not impressed by his gargantuan vocabulary and mastery of role playing games.  The novel is a contemporary epic that spans two countries and three generations: Oscar’s travails have their roots in a family curse, which got his grandfather imprisoned under the dictatorial Trujillo regime in the DR, and later left his mother for dead in a canefield until she found salvation in a mystical mongoose.   

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