Books I read recently

By Shar

This week I have had exams, so my reading pace has unfortunately slowed to a crawl. However, in the last week or so I have read the following books and try to give an accurate and objective and concise summary (that may be hard but then I have been using my memory more for studying so half the details of the book have already been forgotten anyway) as well as my personal opinion.

1.Emily’s dress and other missing things by Kathryn Burak –

This is about a girl called Claire who has just moved to a new town. She is dealing with school and making new friends and things, but what she doesn’t ever talk about is how her mother and best friend have both died, with her being the last person to talk to either of them. The place she has moved to is where Emily Dickinson used to live, and she finds solace in sneaking in there at night. An accidental thievery and alliance with her student teacher helps Claire to find closure and become able to talk about her emotional scars


I really loved this book. Scattered through it were excerpts from poetry Claire writes, which were very beautiful (the author, I think, also does something to do with poetry?) and the language flowed in a really natural way, skipping parts and focusing on important bits, the boring parts left out. The choice to leave details out and mention them later, and skip long periods of time to the next relevant part of the story made the book honest and rawly emotional, rather than factual and objective. The book transitioned smoothly and felt almost ethereal while being grounded in reality as I read it. It did, however, require concentration to read and work out what was flashbacks and what was actually happening.

2.Starglass by Phoebe North-

This book is about Jewish people who have been on a spaceship for 500 years, who have left the dying Earth in search of a new home they have dubbed ‘Zehava’.  It focuses on a girl called Terra who comes of age and is given a job assignment, as well as meeting rebels against the dictatorial regime and dealing with guys who want to marry her.  She has a lot of problems as she decides on her allegiances- with the rebels or to the boy she has always liked, Silvan, who is training to be there new leader.

This book was okay. I kept picking it up and putting it down again. Veronica Roth liked it… I didn’t really. It was okay, a really interesting concept, but basically similar to many other teen YA sic-fi (like across the universe) also, the ending was really confusing and unsatisfactory. Anyway, I guess I suggest you spend your time on better, more meaningful books, like:

3. Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

This is nonfiction (wow, I think I deserve awards for reading nonfiction). It’s about a girl who is quite unpopular at her middle school and finds a book on how to be popular from the 1950s. She decides that each month she will try another chapter of the book- from ‘posture’ to ‘popular attitude’ to ‘popular clothing’ and try it out. The entire thing is really hard but ends up being worthwhile as she discovers for herself the true meaning of popular.

Maya wrote this herself. I was inspired by her courage to risk defying the social hierarchy at her school and her complete honesty with the narration of how it affected her, not just the good things but also the bad things. Also, her revelation about what popular truly is really struck me. It made me think about being popular myself and that maybe things other than the common definition of popularity are more worthwhile.

I am also currently in the middle of

1.The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

I think this cover was really cool
I think this cover was really cool

I really liked her other book, the probability of miracles… this one is also really good. Right now I can only understand about this much: girl with issues accompanies bipolar and manic friend on road trip. It seems really good, interesting, a good concept, etc  . It’s also interesting considering I lived with someone with bipolar disorder… and I love how it’s told that I can’t predict the ending at all. The events in this book as Zoe (the crazy friend) takes Hannah (the main character and  narrator) on a journey to learn of ‘intangible things’ such as freedom, audacity, and insouciance(I had to look that word up) is as random and unpredictable and valuable as Zoe herself.

2.this star won’t go out by Esther, Lori and Wayne Earl

The reason I’m writing in this weird, short sentence way right now is because of this book. It is a collection of writing by or about a passionate. vivacious girl called Esther Earl, who died of cancer.  It’s also nonfiction (I think I deserve major points for reading more nonfiction, but this is quite addicting to be perfectly honest, it’s not like I’m forcing myself to read it). I have one criticism : It’s the people who die of cancer who inspire books and charitable foundations etc; people who go through the whole tortorous process and survive it and awesome people who don’t have cancer are far less likely to get books written about them. I find this fact sad but it is definitely true. This makes me have empathy for people with cancer, even though my personal opinion on it is: Cancer is a horrible disease. But so is ebola or typhoid. Cancer is a first world problem and extremely, extremely lucrative industry. I personally think it would be better to focus on saving starving children, an easy to solve problem, rather than wasting millions of dollars on something that might not ever be cured. However, as I can tell by reading this book, it is significant because despite being the first world, we can not cure this disease, and people still die fairly often (compared to other diseases in developing countries) from it. My other complaint about this book is that it is very heavy and hardback. I just weighed it an it’s over a kilo… that’s even heavier than my laptop!


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