Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — growing up

What I've been reading

I read Sisters, Raina Telgemeier's new book, which I would have read when it first came out, except that for some reason it took until now for my library to acquire it. As always, I love her artwork and her storytelling.

I reread Little Women, which is my favorite of the three books by an even greater margin than I anticipated. I reread them all to bits at a certain age and all of them still hold certain charms, but Little Women (here inclusive of Good Wives) is much the best, I think. (Although I think some of her non-March family children's books are seriously underrated. I never see anyone talking about Jack and Jill or Under the Lilacs, and I loved those books!)

I laughed out loud when I came to the bit where Jo wishes she could "marry Meg [herself], and keep her safe in the family," which had never previously struck me in a shipping context, so thank you, fandom. I remembered vividly how the chapters "Laurie Makes Mischief, and Jo Makes Peace" and, to a lesser extent, "Lazy Laurence" were like the world's most chaste porn to me. So much scolding and pardon-begging! I can't even think of any actual porn that scratches that itch as well for me.

I can never forgive Professor Bhaer for the thing with Jo's writing. Never, ever, ever. Sorry, dude.

I reread Little Men, where the discrepancy between how much I remembered liking it and how much I liked it on reread was the greatest. Like, I still find it very readable, and still feel the powerful draw of tiny working stoves. I guess the big difference is that, unlike the March sisters, not all the Plumfield kids are equally important and beloved. The weirdest thing for me on reread was that even though Nat is the point of entry and at least as close to the main character as anyone, Jo pretty much disdains him for being too girly. What is that even about? Dan is a much better friend to him.

I reread Jo's Boys and I think I would rather have the earthquake ending than what actually happens to Dan. Poor Dan. Also, damn, Meg is so mean to poor Nat and Daisy! And so hypocritical, since her parents were supportive of her marriage and didn't hold her prospective spouse to anything like the standards she proposes for Daisy's. But then of course this is after the apotheosis of John Brooke, who goes from being a good guy who can be wrong (although Meg is always more wrong, as her mother helpfully informs her every time there is discord in the Dove-cote) to being a saint and also dead. I think my favorite storyline in this book is Josie's.

I read A Marble Woman: Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott, which I had not previously read—I think the only anonymous/pseudonymous Alcott books I read when I was younger were A Modern Mephistopheles and A Long Fatal Love Chase, neither of which managed to make a lasting impression on me. There is so nothing in any of the stories in this collection that justifies a moral freakout, except maybe the last one, which is a really short story about a group of young people who are bored so they all get really stoned on hashish-laced candies, which enable two of them who have had a mutual crush on each other to finally acknowledge it and live happily ever after. Scandalous!

I read Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, which won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Maya Van Wagenen as a precocious and nerdy eighth grader decided to do the thing where you do something weird for a year and then you get a book deal out of it. Her gimmick was that she decided to implement the advice from Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide, which dates back to when 'teenage' was hyphenated. She's an entertaining writer, and I cringed and wanted to save her when she started trying to implement the fashion advice and ended up wearing ankle-length skirts and weird shoes and getting mistaken for a cult member, like, oh, honey, no. (On the other hand, the church outfits she put together with gloves and a hat are really cute!)

I read a bunch of vintage books as a kid because my mom loves to collect them. She definitely has a copy of Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide somewhere. I remember poring over a book of a similar vintage about throwing parties, which had a bunch of themed decoration and refreshment suggestions that I never followed because I didn't have anyone to invite to a party. It did have one extremely useful piece of advice which has stuck with me, though: trashcans. Everywhere. Frankly this is a good idea even if you're not throwing a party, but when you are, you definitely need to step up your trashcan game.

I read I'll Give You the Sun, which won the Printz Award and a Stonewall Honor. I liked this book a lot, even though it does this thing that drives me crazy, where impossible things are described as happening but it's not actually fantasy and most (all?) of them are just metaphors. A little of this is fine as a garnish but it is going on constantly in this book and I have a hard enough time visualizing as I'm reading without people who may or may not be floating at any given time. But it also has codependent twins, and epic amount of pining, and switches between twins and skips back and forward through time until a very satisfying reveal where everything is revealed and everyone understands everyone else better, so I coped with the floating.

I read Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, which I hadn't actually realized how many of which had been previously published in one place or another and therefore about two-thirds of them were new to me, including, of course, the new Shadow story, which is the only one original to the collection.

I read Girls Like Us, which won the teen Schneider Family Book Award for artistic expression of the disability experience. It's about two Special Ed program graduates who aren't friends at all until they get placed together and get to know each other and the older woman with balance issues they're living with. I thought it was really sharp and funny as well as occasionally wrenching, but the Goodreads reviews, or at least the popular ones on top, are full of people who are outraged that both girls use nonstandard grammar, which they keep incorrectly describing as "Southern accents", and I can't even with these people.

What I'm reading next

I don't know. I have a big pile of books but also a cold coming on and I feel fuzzy-headed.

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  • Current Mood: sick sick
Take a day off and that will be good.

I have a copy of Sisters, not because I wanted or even like it so much, but because our church was having a fundraiser and it was one of the few books they had that was on my reading list. I sort of wish my relationship with Jensanity was only that marginally dysfunctional.
Never heard of that one but put it on hold.

I never knew how messed up our household was until I left for college. OMG. Or until I heard from other people talking about their "highly dysfunctional" homes which sounded like roses and parties compared to mine (except for the girl who had *two* seriously autistic siblings).