So I’ve made absolutely no attempts at making a reading list these past couple months; a lot of circumstantial things got in the way of my reading lately. But I’m trying to make amends with my shitty reading challenge score for this year (15/50), and so I’ve been putting together a nice list of books I hope to finish next month before the year is over.
For the first time in over two years, I’ve taken interest in a lot of young adult fiction again, which is funny considering I thought I’d given up on the genre after reading We Were Liars. There’s also an unsurprising presence of short story collections on this list, a sprinkle of memoir and maybe a graphic novel, too.
Here’s what I’m hoping to read in December:
All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
Synopsis: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
Thoughts: I’ve heard some really amazing things about Jennifer Niven, specifically about her book, All the Bright Places. I ended up checking out her most recent work, Holding Up the Universe, just a few weeks ago and so I might even start that one next year depending on how well this book goes.
Update 12/20: Okay, so I’m about 60 pages in (I know!) and it isn’t so bad. I am having a really difficult time picking this one up again, however. I hope I can really crank this one out before the new year but I’ll try to keep my promise on finishing it because it does seem really interesting, very Paper Towns-ish so far! 1/2: I’m still going to go through with reading this one, but I lost excitement after the holidays. Who knows, though, I’m going to still keep this one in mind. Either that, or put it off into a reading month where I’m only taking on YA titles. Stay tuned!
Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick
Synopsis: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.
Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”
At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.
With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”
Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).
Thoughts: Anna Kendrick has been a favorite actress of mine for a long time, since before role on Pitch Perfect. Also, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates; that film is fucking amazing! Anyways, I’m really excited to read literature about her life and how she became the actress she is today! I’m crossing my finders for some behind-the-scenes A-list stories, too!
Update 12/20: Umm… Okay, I don’t know how I should feel about this or what I am about to say but I literally read like 20 pages and I already feel like DNFing. Honestly, I don’t see myself finishing this one out before the new year, or anytime soon. Sorry.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties: Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman
Synopsis: Enn is a fifteen-year-old boy who just doesn’t understand girls, while his friend Vic seems to have them all figured out. Both teenagers are in for the shock of their young lives, however, when they crash a local party only to discover that the girls there are far, far more than they appear!
From the Locus Award-winning short story by Neil Gaiman–one of the most celebrated authors of our time– and adapted in vibrant ink-and-watercolor illustrations by the Daytripper duo of Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, this original hardcover graphic novel is absolutely not to be missed!”
Thoughts: I’ve never read anything by Neil Gaiman but I’ve only heard great things so I’m hoping this is makes a great first impression! I know I’m hoping to read his other book A Monster Calls really soon; I have that one shelved as well.
Update 12/20: You can read my review here.
How to Breathe Underwater, Julie Orringer
Synopsis: Nine brave, wise, and spellbinding stories make up this award-winning debut. In “When She is Old and I Am Famous” a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin’s beauty. In “Note to Sixth-Grade Self” a band of popular girls exerts its social power over an awkward outcast. In “Isabel Fish” fourteen-year-old Maddy learns to scuba dive in order to mend her family after a terrible accident. Alive with the victories, humiliations, and tragedies of youth, How to Breathe Underwater illuminates this powerful territory with striking grace and intelligence.
Thoughts: I’m always reading more short story collections, and this one was recommended by MercysBookishMusings and I thought it looked interesting enough so I picked up a copy from the library. Telling by the synopsis, this collection seems like it may read like Bonnie Jo Campbell‘s work, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, which I absolutely loved. So I am excited!
Update 12/20: Ehh… Okay, so if I can be candid: I’ve only read part of the first story in this collection. I didn’t realize just how dense these stories were. Ugh, I’m crossing my fingers about finishing it in time for the New Year, but it’s not looking good right now. I’ll try to make this a priority but it’s just wishful thinking at this point. 1/2: Ugh, still trucking through this one, you guys! But I’m not quite ready to give up on it. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks.
Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
Synopsis: “Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her.
As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
Thoughts: Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak was one of those books I’d always seen on promotion stands at Borders (before they were consumed by Barnes & Noble) when I was in high school. I never actually found any interest in reading it because I was so much into the movie with Kristen Stewart that I didn’t think reading the book was necessary; I loved Stewart but I hated reading. I’m curious to see what all the buzz has been about, and know what I’ve been missing out on all these years.
Update 12/20: Okay, so I’m making really big strides on this one! LOL. I made it to page 85 the other night (LMAO) and I’ve literally been picking it up and putting it down for at least a month now and that’s only because I keep forgetting about it… I’m positive I’ll finish this one in time for a January review but the one thing I really can’t get with is the sequences within the chapters or “marking periods”; it’s really distracting me. Audiobooks have really been helping though. So far, I’m really feeling for Melinda, and I’m anxious to learn more about the “incident” that happened at the party.
Update 1/1: Finished! Mind-blown, and review in the works. Hopefully, in the next week or so.
Have you read any of the books on this list?!
Tell us which books you’re most looking forward to reading in the comments below!
Be sure to keep up with the Paperback Paris Team’s monthly TBRs!