August 2019: How I Got a Concussion and Lin-Manuel Miranda Narrated a Book to Me

What I Read:

  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimatum by Brian Michael Bendis
  • Sheets by Brenna Thummler
  • Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savannah Ganucheau
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (re-read; audiobook) by Becky Albertalli
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (re-read; audiobook) by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • The Hidden Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag
  • Check Please! Book 1: Hockey by Ngozi UkazuIMG_0810
  • Fun House: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  • With the Fire on High (audiobook) by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Austere Academy (re-read) by Lemony Snicket
  • How to Train Your Dragon (audiobook) by Cressida Cowell
  • The Handmaid’s Tale: A Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood and Renée Nault
  • 2 self-care zines
  • Peter and Ned’s Ultimate Travel Journal by Preeti Chhibber
  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
  • Parked (ARC) by Danielle Svetcov
  • Looking for Alaska (re-read) by John Green

What I Got:

  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimatum
  • Austere Academy
  • Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
  • 2 self-care zines
  • Parked
  • Ordinary Girls: A Memoir (ARC) by Jaquira Díaz
  • Peter and Ned’s Ultimate Travel Journal
  • A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon (ARC) by Karen Romano Young
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • Pop Science: Serious Answers to Deep Questions Posed in Songs by James Ball

IMG_0696Before you freak out about the amount of books I read while having a concussion, just take a closer look at the list. It is almost entirely graphic novels and audiobooks. Like last month, I’m going to focus on the books I have the most thoughts on since the list is so long and neither you nor I want to be sitting in front of the computer forever.

First of all, I just want to note that I got a concussion when I only had FIFTY FREAKING PAGES left in Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. Boy was that torture. But I figured out a brain hack: if I woke up and immediately read a graphic novel, I could still get some actual reading in before switching to audiobooks, podcasts, and naps.

Skyward’s ending didn’t feel worth the wait, but that might have been because I got out of the reading groove. However, I enjoyed the rest of the book and the sarcastic humor of the main character, as well as the promise of going into space and hanging out with aliens in the rest of the series. Spensa is hilarious and strong and susceptible to self-doubt, but she still goes where no one else goes and embraces her differences. Not to mention that some of the side characters are great!

Sheets is a super cute graphic novel about a ghost boy wanting to make friends with a ghost girl who basically runs her family’s laundromat because her father is depressed. It is SO CUTE. The Hidden Witch offers a cute friendship story, as well, between a witch boy, a regular girl, and a witch girl who got the worst of the foster system. Adorable! Another IMG_0712.jpegcute graphic novel is Bloom, which is a romantic love story instead of a friendship story. There is baking, flirting, two boys in love, family love, and deciding what to do in the future.

The last cute graphic novel I read this month was Check Please! Oh, my goodness. I can’t believe I took so long to read this. It took a concussion to get me to check it out from the library and I fell in love. Eric “Bitty” Bittle deserves everything good in life. He is a gay hockey player who loves baking for his teammates and falls in love with the captain of the team. He is just so pure and sweet and lovely and assumes the best of people, which was just what I needed. So basically, August was the month of gay-boys-who-bake-falling-in-love graphic novels. And it was FANTASTIC.

Now onto audiobooks! If you have the time and a library card, I highly recommend checking out the audiobook for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe because it is narrated by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda, our favorite Puerto Rican {7F239D2C-65BB-4175-A45B-90F25B6DC8C9}Img400playwright and actor extraordinaire. His narration added a whole new dimension to the story. I read this book a few years ago and just felt meh about it. But this go-around, I actually cried a few times and fell in love with Dante through Lin-Manuel Miranda’s portrayal of him. I even found Ari, the narrator, less annoying. The only issue with listening to an audiobook narrated by someone with such a soothing voice is that I found myself just relaxing into the lull of his voice. Boy, am I glad I already knew the plot!

With the Fire on High was narrated by the author herself, Elizabeth Acevedo, and because she is a slam poet, she also did amazing. The story itself wasn’t my absolute favorite, but I still enjoyed it. Emoni is an aspiring cook and teen mom who gets the chance to take a cooking class during her senior year of high school. Some aspects of the story felt unrealistic, but I don’t mind when things work out a little too well in books.

And then, oh boy, the mother of all audiobooks: How to Train Your Dragon. Narrated by…. DAVID TENNANT. He does all of these amazing voices and noises for the characters and dragons, which made the story much more exciting even though it was super different from the movie.

The last three books I will discuss here are the final three on my list above. I read them after I had recovered from my concussion, so I actually remember them well. Woohoo!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson is about a girl who grew up in a magical library where the sorcery books, called grimoires, have hostile personalities. She ends up fighting a huge conspiracy with a sorcerer named Nathaniel Thorn and his demon, Silas.IMG_0822 It was advertised to me as a found family story, but that was not the main focus of the story. Sure, the main character was an orphan and, sure, she had to find her own family. But it felt more like a coming of age story, her realizing that the world is not how she thought it was. And while this does sound like a fantastic idea for a story and people have been raving about this book, there were a few too many clichés for me to be able to ignore them. Full of striking imagery and lovable characters, I would still recommend this novel, but I can’t say for sure whether I want to continue with the story.

Parked by Danielle Svetcov comes out in February 2020, and I hope it takes the middle-grade world by storm. It offers such a heartwarming story about learning how to offer help to someone in the ways that they want and need, rather than how you want to help. It will teach kids that compassion toward others takes effort and should not be seen as a IMG_0850project. This story is also about the San Francisco housing crisis and how homelessness affects kids, making friendships with people outside your socioeconomic class, and how to give/accept help from others. I can’t wait for kids to read this and internalize the important message that you need to listen and act on what you hear and see in order to be really helpful.

Lastly, I re-read Looking for Alaska this month! This book has lots of problems, but there is no doubt that John Green can write a great story. I honestly just wanted to give the John Green who first wrote this story a hug. The tone of the story and the themes of death/suicide/pointlessness really pointed toward him being in a bad state of mind at the time. Even the ending, which is a little hopeful, embodies the struggle that is life. Pudge, the main character, just kind of goes along with what everyone else does, never thinking too hard about his actions. That bothered me, but not in a way that made me dislike the story; more like I wouldn’t have liked him. None of the characters are particularly likable or unproblematic, but they are interesting. And that’s all I ask of book characters. Now I’m super pumped for the movie that’s coming out soon.IMG_0867 John Green and the movies based on his books haven’t disappointed me yet, so let’s keep the streak going!

The semester has started now, and I am forcing myself to calm down on grabbing books from the damages and ARC shelves from work, so next month should be a lot calmer. My sister and I are re-reading The Raven Cycle together, and that’s about all I have planned for reading outside of class and book club. I did not include schoolbooks on these lists, though I might include them on books that I read in later months if I really want to discuss them. Good luck to everyone starting school up again! May the homework be light, the teachers kind, and the free time full of books, Netflix, and friends.

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