What I’ve Finished Reading
I finished Welcome to Night Vale: The Novel
. The propulsive force in the plot did eventually grab me and drag me along, but ultimately I wasn’t too impressed with the book; I feel like Night Vale’s world-building probably works much better in radio program form than as a novel, where you have to try to get down to brass tacks about how people actually live in this bizarre and terrible town.
So I might still give the podcast a try someday? But I don’t think the novel is worth reading unless you’re a Night Vale completist or just super into the creepypasta aesthetic.
I also read Elizabeth Yates’ charming Mountain Born
, a Newbery Honor book from 1944. (I have sometimes thought about trying to read all the Newbery Honor books, but there are so many! And I think it would be hard to get my hands on the older ones…)
Anyway! Mountain Born
is about young Peter growing up in a mountain community and learning how to be a good shepherd, with all sorts of interesting details about sheep and shepherding folded beautifully into the narrative - it’s a bit like the parts in the Little House books where Ma is making butter or Pa is putting together a makeshift door hinge, and the fun of reading it is in learning about how people at the time did things? The success mode of infodump, basically.
Of course ( spoilersCollapse )What I’m Reading Now
D. E. Stevenson’s The Four Graces
, the story of the four sisters of the Grace family, all daughters of a village parson. It’s perfectly charming - all the D. E. Stevenson books I’ve read has been perfectly charming, and I am tempted to go out and get all the rest that the Indianapolis Public Library has, but on the other hand I think I ought to keep them in reserve for those times when I hit a reading drought.
Anyway, this book has the odd distinction of being a cozily charming tale of home and village life while also being set at the tail end of World War II (which is when it was written; it was published in 1946). I love World War II books (and movies. And TV shows. And superheroes), but generally speaking they are not full of coziness.
I also really liked the way that the book dealt with its religious themes - it’s not a main theme in the book by any means, but because Mr. Grace is a parson it does come up, and I was glad that Stevenson let it come up and even more pleased because she had interesting things to say. Religious experience often seems to be relegated off to the side in modern fiction, and I can understand why that’s so, but at the same time it’s such a big part of the human experience that it seems like cutting out all mention of food, say, except in books that are specifically designated Food Books and shelved in their own special part of the bookstore. What I Plan to Read Next
Grace Lin has a new book out! When the Sea Turned to Silver
, a third book in her marvelously illustrated series of chapter books loosely based on Chinese folklore. (They’re not a series in the sense that the stories build on each other; they simply share a similar sensibility, and of course the gorgeous illustrations.) I loved the first one, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
, and I have high hopes that I’ll love this one just as much.