March Reading Roundup

To riff off of the great poet Kaveh Akbar: It has been March for months in both directions.

This feels like the month that has gone on and on. I did get out a few posts this month, and I hope to get more out in April, just as I find ways to occupy myself beyond class and work.

This Month’s Blog Posts

Dispatches from the Void: Colorado

“All around them there was nothing but grassy prairie spreading to the edge of the sky”: Little House on the Prairie as Sacred Text

What I Read This Month

March was a little slower than both January and February as far as reads go, but I still finished 14 books this month which isn’t half shabby. As always, check out my Goodreads page for reviews of each of the titles listed!

Books for Fun

  • New Kid by Jerry Craft
  • The Night Tiger by Yangze Choo
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Throw Like A Girl by Sarah Hennings
  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  • A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
  • Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
  • The Boxcar Children: Houseboat Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  • Things that are by Andrew Clements
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Audiobooks

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Review — Illuminae: My Favorite Book of the Month

Cover image sourced from Goodreads.

So this almost feels like cheating, because I didn’t really have a favorite book of the month when it comes to actually having read things.

I read a lot of things that were just okay, and then I did a reread of several things, including the entire Illuminae Files trilogy by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman. This is a really cool science fiction trilogy that’s told through a dossier basically which gives it some really cool design elements. And since in my “History of Children’s Book Publishing” class we’re talking about design right now, I thought I’d take the chance to talk about about the incredible design of this book instead of the traditional review. Part of what makes this book so much fun to read is how incredibly beautiful it is.

This book doesn’t read like a normal novel, instead it’s told through transcripts, documents, and the inner workings of an insane AI. So it feels like no two interior pages are alike. There are many pages that are black and printed with reversed out text in white. There are pages where the text forms intricate designs. Each page is well thought out to contribute to the total design and feel of the book, and this carries across the trilogy (though I’d argue it is the first book in the trilogy, Illuminae, that has the best overall design).

The cover and dust jacket are also a thing of beauty. The cover is pre-printed to mirror the transcribed video footage that makes up a large part of the text of the novel, redactions included. The dust jacket is acetate, with a brightly colored explosion feel, with portions left un printed to line up with the redactions to provide a black background, or lined up to reveal the names of the authors. The book also has gorgeous end pages that look like stars in space that I am in love with.

I found a really cool blog post from Penguin Random House about the design process for the cover and interior of Gemina, the second book in the trilogy.

There’s also this blog post from Ray Shappel, the cover and dust jacket designer, about his work on Illuminae.

My favorite non-book things

Brooklyn 99

In the midst of this crazy, difficult, and slightly terrifying time, I’ve decided that the best thing to do right now is find something funny to turn to. I’ve chosen Brooklyn 99 for my most recent binge (although I’m moving pretty slowly through the show, and have yet to actually finish season one). The 99 squad never fails to make me laugh. Each of the characters is wonderfully flawed (my favorite is Amy Santiago), and I love watching the growth that the characters have experienced even just in the first season and I can’t wait to see what comes.

Poetry Prompts

I’ve been doing a lot of writing (both journaling and poetry) in the evenings, and for my poetry I’ve been turning to wonderful prompts shared by Rachel McKibbens.

My Typewriter

I’ve been writing a lot of letters since I’ve been home in Colorado to new friends and old friends using a Smith-Corona typewriter I brought home from my Grandmother’s house in 2015. I bought a new ribbon for it last spring, but this is really the first time that I’ve had a chance to pull it out of my closet and actually use it, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of getting used to it.

My Dogs and Cats

I am biased, but my dogs and cats are the best dogs and cats. I’m glad to be able to spend a little extra time with them right now.

That’s it for March. I’ll see you back here at the end of April for another Reading Roundup!

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