I turned 14 over February break, and as a reward for being alive for that long, I received, amongst other gifts, four well-chosen books from my parents. Here are my reactions:
**Also! I now have a Nerd Alert Instagram account (@nerdalert_readfeed). I'll be posting a picture and a quote immediately after I finish a book. Or listen to a new favorite song. Or attend a cool event. Follow if you're interested!
Aphorisms by Franz Kafka
Why I'd want this book: Two reasons: Kafka and aphorisms. I've read The Metamorphosis and The Trial. I really enjoy his surreal/kafkaesque (ha) writing style and storylines. Aphorisms, for those of you who don't know, are small, concise, often one or two sentence statements that are ridiculously confusing unless you read them very slowly. It's kind of like taking a literature shot (Sorry, weird comparison). I first encountered them at this camp I go called Great Books (I've attached a link if you want to check it out) during a philosophy elective when we were studying Friedrich Nietzsche's The Gay Science. We had a lot of fun trying to decipher the meanings behind the aphorisms (Yes, actually, I do realize how nerdy I sound).
You'll like this if you like: The Essential Marcus Aurelius, anything by Friedrich Nietzsche, The Metamorphosis, and The Trial
Ages: Depends on your taste. I suggest 13+, but I'd start with some sort of introduction to philosophy. My first real 'philosophical' book was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Why I'd want this book: Two weirdos, one kind of chubby and red-haired and another Korean and withdrawn are drawn together by fate and end up falling in love (obviously, it's way more complicated than that, but if I had to give you a little summary, which I do, that's what I'd say). Wow, this book is addictive. TFIOS level. I loved it. I identified with the characters, I awwwed/laughed out loud, and I felt like stomping the book into the ground and crying once I finished it. It's light, but it's also so well written. I felt like I was the one falling in love.
You'd like this if you like: The Fault in Our Stars, Bruiser, and Fangirl (which I haven't read, but it's by the same author)
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Why I'd want this book: Kate Beaton is a history-directed Roz Chast (my all-time hero...see Theories of Everything and Oops, has it actually been this long since my last post?). If you'd read her blog, you'd know that she makes parodies of historical events and Victorian novels. Her comics are sophisticated, but, if you get her reference, laugh-out-loud funny. I've actually used one of her comics for a post (see Zeus is a Jerk and Other Observations...this has to be the most links I've ever included in a post). I've used her comics in school projects too. I'd recommend this for history/classic, generally Victorian or Shakespearean novel nerds.
You'd like this if you like: Roz Chast and/or Hyperbole and a Half (the word 'hyperbole' links to her blog and 'half' links to her book)
The Golden Compass (graphic novel) by Philip Pullman
Why I'd want this book: Well, let's see. All-time favorite fantasy series (aside from Lord of the Rings)? Check. Philip Pullman involvement? Check. Graphic novel? Check. I went into this book unimaginably excited. But to my crushing disappointment, it was less than perfect. First of all, the art wasn't particularly beautiful or interesting. It had this scratchy, pencily look to it that didn't really work with the story. Second of all, if I hadn't read The Golden Compass series fifteen times, I would have absolutely no idea what was going on. The guiding voices of the characters were lost. And finally, the whole idea that Lyra's adventure was happening in an alternate universe was not at all apparent. But though I didn't love it, I'm glad I read it. Hardcore fans of this series should definitely read this. It's kind of like going on Google images and looking up your favorite characters after you finish a book. You're not necessarily looking for anything new, but you're comparing perceptions. This was one perception.
You'd like this if you like: The Golden Compass series (His Dark Materials), Percy Jackson and the Olympians graphic novel series and The Hobbit graphic novel (strongly recommend this one)
Ages: 11+ (Last warning: be sure that you've read the series before you buy this graphic novel)