Friday, January 6, 2017

2017 Book #3 Brain On Fire

Just completed Brain On Fire by Susannah Cahalan.

It's a memoir of her struggle with mental illness -- she refers to it as a month of madness.

I'm not sure whether it's even accurate to call it mental illness, since (no spoilers, this is clear from the beginning) they uncover a cause that is autoimmune, but in the most literal sense, it's certainly an illness affecting mental health. 

Anyway, this was the scariest thing I've ever read. First, the kind of loss of control and autonomy associated with being in an institution -- not even necessarily a mental institution, even a hospital, but much more so when you can't just choose to leave -- is scary to me. Throw in not being able to control or trust your brain, having a doctor write down false information about you and dismiss your illness as alcoholism, and being ill with something rare enough and little enough known that getting diagnosed is a matter of luck (and luck leaning on privilege at that) and it's a true horror story. Freddy Krueger has nothing on this.

Furthermore, a common problem with true stories is that not everyone is a writer. In Cahalan, the reader is blessed with a storyteller who knows how to tell a story. She draws you in and even when discussing technical details, her work reads like a story, in a place where it could have easily sounded like a chapter you were required to read in a class you hadn't wanted to take.

I was surprised to hear it over so fast, and I will say I wasn't left with a sense of relief at the end. This isn't a horror story where the monster is slain at the end -- the reader knows it could come back and could be lurking in any of us, waiting to attack. 

Bonus: narrator Heather Henderson renders the story beautifully. She sounds like your friend sitting on your sofa sharing. Her reading holds emotion that carries the narrative without ever going overboard and detracting from it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Book #2

Second book of 2017 completed: the fourth in the Maximum Ride series.

Review much as the previous. The global warming stuff all comes across weird, like the author doesn't believe it but finds it a convenient plot device.

I'll probably finish the other four in the series but I have to take a break from them. I want to hear the end of the story but also definitely have to step away from this writing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Books 2017

Jan 3 -- first book completed of 2017.
'Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports' by James Patterson. Third in the series.

These books are awful, especially the audio versions, and yet I can't seem to stop listening.

They could serve as a teen lesson in what isn't a romance, for one thing. Fang's behavior throws up so many red flags. And the writing is just...gooey and weak.

God knows I'm not pretending I can do better, but it just isn't what I'd normally read on purpose. But apparently maybe it is because as bad as it is, from plot holes to weak devices barely outside the 'all a dream!' cop out (okay actually *including* that one) to gooey unbelievable characters, less flat than squished, I want to hear the end of the story.

I'm listening to the fourth now. There are eight in the series, I think, and my library has all in audio, so I guess finishing them isn't a terrible idea, but I keep wondering why I want to.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Book Challenge for 2017

This is my book challenge for the year. I know reading this amount is no problem but I tend to stick to what I know, so this might broaden my horizons a bit.

  • 1. Read a book originally published in a language you do not know
  • 2. Read a book by an author born in the same country as you
  • 3. Read a book from the Horror genre
  • 4. Read a Romance and/or Erotica book
  • 5. Read a book written before 1950
  • 6. Read a book written by a man
  • 7. Read a book written by a woman
  • 8. Read a book in the Science Fiction genre
  • 9. Read a book in the Fantasy genre
  • 10. Read a book labelled as Young Adult
  • 11. Read a nonfiction book
  • 12. Read a book with a contemporary setting
  • 13. Read a book written after 1949
  • 14. Read a book published this year
  • 15. Read a popular book, with at least 1 million ratings on any one website
  • 16. Read an unknown book, with no more than 100 ratings on any one website
  • 17. Read a book that was turned into a movie
  • 18. Finish a series
  • 19. Read a History book, fiction or nonfiction
  • 20. Read a short story, one with less than 5,000 words
  • 21. Read a short book, one between 5,000 and 100,000 words
  • 22. Read a long book, one between 100,000 and 250,000 words
  • 23. Read an epic book, one with over 250,000 words
  • 24. Read a self-published book
  • 25. Read an indie book, where the publisher is a small or niche house and not one of the top 6 publishers
  • 26. Read a book published under one of the Big 6 publishing houses
  • 27. Read a Biography, whether normal, Auto, or Memoir.
  • 28. Read a book labelled as a Best-Seller from this year
  • 29. Read a book about Politics and/or Religion
  • 30. Listen to an Audiobook
  • 31. Read a book on paper
  • 32. Read a book that was, or currently is, banned by a government
  • 33. Read a book in the Thriller or Suspense genre
  • 34. Read a Mystery book
  • 35. Read a book labelled as Dystopian
  • 36. Read a debut book from this year
  • 37. Read a book by or featuring a character that is LGBT
  • 38. Read a book in the Paranormal genre
  • 39. Read a book with pictures in it
  • 40. Read a book for the second time
  • 41. Read a book that’s been on your to read-list for more than a year
  • 42. Read a book that features animals
  • 43. Read a book where the main character goes on a journey
  • 44. Read a book where a stranger comes to town
  • 45. Read a book labelled as a Satire or Allegory
  • 46. Read a book from the Self-Help, Health, Travel, or Guide category
  • 47. Read a collection of poetry
  • 48. Read the first book in a series
  • 49. Read a book that won a literary award
  • 50. Read a book set in your country
  • 51. Read a book not set in your country, but exists today
  • 52. Combining all the letters of all the titles of all the books you’ve read this year, complete the alphabet