I am an eclectic reader. Young adult, historical romance, chapter books, classics, nonfiction, even the occasional mystery—it’s all good. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week.
Lately I’ve been on a Dickens kick, thanks to my friend Wayne Mergler, who is an expert and fanatic. My favorite thing about Charles Dickens is his characters. I love the way he creates these larger than life people who I know better than I know some real people. And his descriptions are great. For example, here’s one from Great Expectations:
“Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they seemed to have somehow got mixed with their own whites. He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy going, foolish, dear fellow—a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness.”
Isn’t that vivid?
I’ve also been reading some current YA. Gabi: A Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quintero also has great writing, with a contemporary angle. Here’s a sample:
“Whet I really want to do before summer vacation is over is try the new super-hot wings from Pepe’s House of Wings, located—conveniently—down the street. The wings are rumored to be so hot that you have to sign a waiver before you put one little drumstick in your mouth. Which makes me wonder, what horrible thing happens when you eat them? Could you possibly have a heart attack from ingesting so much capsaicin? (I like that word. It makes me feel scientific.)”
Okay, I’ll stop there, but you get the picture. It doesn’t take long to like Gabi and get caught up in her unique voice.
Margo Rabb creates another great voice in Kissing in America. Here’s a taste:
“My mom is a professor of women’s studies at Queens College. While other newborns were happily drifting to sleep to Goodnight Moon, my mom read to me in my crib from Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and Audre Lorde. In our living room there’s a picture of me in my stroller at a women’s rights march in Washington, clutching a sign with my tiny green mittens: Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History!
And so, two years ago, when I was fourteen and began what my mom termed “your ultimate rebellion,” she said I chose the worst thing possible. She would’ve preferred odd piercings, full-body tattoos, or even shoplifting to what I did.
I fell in love with romance novels.”
Eva is another great main character here. (I don’t want my romance buddies to think she disses romance, either. It’s just a funny way to meet the characters in this book, so keep reading.)
Those voices, those characters, are why I turned the page. Getting to know a character, whether written last year or over a hundred years ago, is like meeting a new friend. And when I re-read a Dickens novel, it’s like seeing old friends after a long absence. You fall in love with them all over again.