Okay…so it’s two weeks into my book-a-week project.
And, yes, I’m absolutely a procrastinator–when it comes to writing. But I have read two books in those two weeks. So, that’s something.
I feel like the best way to do this in a disciplined way would be to write a post about the book I’ve read as soon as I’ve finished it. Books put a spell on me that lasts quite a while, but the real shine is brightest in those few moments after the last page has been turned. I’ve talked about it before–that book hangover. I often feel like a completely different person, starting at the moment I close a book for the last time. I look at the world with fresh eyes, I think about the details of my life with a different mind. I’m definitely not the same person for at least a few days with some books–and months with others.
I scour the internet often; looking for others’ opinions on what I’ve just experienced. Sometimes I’m disappointed to learn that someone hasn’t been changed by a book–that their assessment of it is….”eh. it was fine”
Or even worse, “I don’t see what all the fuss is about….this book was terrible. clunky, disjointed, trying to be something it’s not….”
Dude, I really hate (not really) that person…for at least ten minutes.
Yes, everyone’s opinion is theirs to have. Yes, not everyone likes the same things. And, yes…they have every right to share their experience just as much as I do.
But, seriously; how dare you tarnish something I love? Are you a monster?? Am I a monster? Or worse, am I a naive idiot who likes everything?
Okay, I know. Sometimes I can be that encouraging auntie…the one who tells you that the crappy picture you drew is a work of art and puts it on the fridge–so proud of such a great talent. I clap at the boring dance routine, pointing out that the posture was spot-on.
Maybe it goes back to that time I went to horseback riding camp. I was among pretty, pony-tailed rich girls who have been riding horses since they could walk. They owned horses. They were cute and poised and determined and experienced and…good at things. They had the BOOTS.
I got a ribbon for best eyes.
Why, thank you for noticing. I’ve always thought my eyes were one of my best physical features. They have fifty colors in them and they sometimes change color with the clothes I wear. A stoned dude once told me I have amazing eyes. He smelled good, because I like the smell of patchouli.
Oh, you mean I got best eyes because I looked forward while I was awkwardly riding a horse like a six-year-old? Oh. Well, I’m still gonna keep this until I’m at least 43. It’s in my storage unit right now, along with my honorable mention for that jump I did and fell off the horse after. The one that made my shoulder permanently stupid. Because that was a nice thing to say to an idiot and it gave me a confidence boost…and I still talk about how I used to ride horses because no one has to know that I rode horses for two weeks once.
Anyway, that’s why I should probably write how I feel about a book before I go and see some tosser’s opinion of it. They’re not me. I’m me. I wasn’t even me until I read that book and now I’m more me than I was two days ago. That’s a gift that I will never demean by pointing out that it was wrapped in the funny pages instead of the expensive, lead-lined Target paper.
So, I’m not a critic. I’m a reader. and I’m really not disciplined. But that’s sort of one of my endearing qualities, right? Right?
Oh, come on, tell me I’m cute. I’ll take cute.
On week one, I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green. It was a great way to start the year, to be honest. I bought the book in November, still being in my book slump but wanting to read–and I was excited because it was Hank Green, and I love him.
I have been following the Green brothers for a few years now, and a couple of years ago, I had a nice little conversation with John Green at Nerdcon Nerdfighteria in Boston. I didn’t ask for an autograph or a picture because I felt weird and nervous, but those few minutes were really nice. And I made John Green laugh, which was cool. About ten minutes later my Diet Dr. Pepper exploded all over Dunkin’ Donuts, which I’m glad he didn’t see but I will always associate with that meeting. And, not that that was nothing, but I didn’t get to meet Hank, so I was a little sad. He’s more in line with my sense of humor and way of thinking….and he’s so much more nerdy (in such a good way). I missed Hannah Hart and Craig Benzine too (love those guys, but I didn’t venture too far around and I am shy), but I did meet Michael Aranda and his hair.
So An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is Hank’s debut novel, and he really needs to write ten more, like, now. because it was so nicely done. It’s probably considered YA because it’s centered around the life of a young person (I mean, but she’s in her 20’s, so not super young) with a very “Green” name (naming your character April May just proves to me that you are John’s brother–because John does seem to like giving cool and not-quite-possible names to his central characters. Not that I’m dissing that…it’s cute that there’s a similarity there).
April May unwittingly becomes the center of an amazing, sci-fi-ish but still plausible fantastic first contact scenario. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that there are aliens. I think people know that. But what I liked about the book, besides the smoothly conversational and personal writing and the little touches of silliness that just pop up on you without a ‘ta-da!’, is the way the world (and particularly America) reacts to this visitor. It seems very real and possible and fantasical all at the same time. I like April’s personality–how she can be snarky and intelligent and still pure and stick to her convictions. I like how she fell into her adventure and how she follows it without thinking she has another option. Most of us would like to think we’d do the same thing instead of hiding in our room with our really comfy duvet and just play IPad games and watch Netflix until someone else solves the problem.
I like that she solves the problem. I like that she works together with her friends and creates a world community of like-minded people who help each other solve it. I like that the community has its mission and its heart in the right place and they come together because they feel it’s important and responsible.
This is probably the fantasy part of the novel, but that’s okay, too. Hank and John Green both have pure intentions for the world, and a very real hope that someday we will all be a united world community–and the belief that we are capable of that. I like their optimism and their hope, and I also like that they are very aware that it doesn’t always work or isn’t always received well.
More importantly, I left the book wanting more stories from those characters. I do hope that I get to read more about them, but at the same time I will be fine if I don’t. Sometimes as wonderful as a story is, it can end without resolution or a sequel (people HATE that, but I love it–I’m one of the few that thought the last episode of The Sopranos was ballsy and creative and stood well just fine on its own, with the viewer hopefully filling in all the blanks–that’s a gift, too).
I finished the book wanting to send Hank a thank you letter. Who knows, I might tweet it at him. I think he’d like that. But, honestly, I am grateful that he’s writing and vlogging and sharing himself with the world and helping to make it a better place. I think we need that right now. There is also plenty of room to talk about why things suck, but we probably shouldn’t forget to be awesome.
So, Hank, write another book. Or ten.