Monday, August 31, 2020

A Month In The Life: August 2020

Tomorrow is September! Which feels impossible, because it feels like 2020 just started, in a weird sort of way. So many things that had been in the cards for this year just...never happened. At this point, it feels like getting through to the end of the year and looking forward to a better 2021 is about as good as it's going to get. But before we turn full bore into fall, let's look back at August!

In Books...
  • A Luminous Republic: I am usually a reader drawn to books with rich characters, but this short novel, which is heavy on theme and story rather than character, grabbed my attention and wouldn't let it go. It's about a small city in Argentina, on the edge of the jungle, from whence a group of feral children arrive and chaos ensues. It was really thought-provoking!
  • The Thirteenth Tale: I absolutely loved Diane Setterfield's more recent novel, Once Upon A River, so I had very high expectations for this. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by this story of a young woman who receives an invitation to be the biographer of a very famous writer, whose life narrative is a riff on gothic classics. It isn't bad, per se, but felt both overlong and under-developed.
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: This was my book club read for the month! It's absolutely beautifully written, Ocean Vuong's background as a poet shines through in a great way as he tells the tale of the son of a Vietnamese immigrant growing up and dealing with his family legacy of conflict and reflecting on his first relationship with another man. It's a lovely book and I would recommend it, but I wish it had felt more focused and had developed more of a cohesive narrative.
  • Ivanhoe: I generally tend to really enjoy classics, but the language in this one felt like it was fighting me and I couldn't really relax into the rhythm of it. Nearly 600 pages of that fight made this feel like a slog, which is in part a pity: there is wit and humor here, and if a couple hundred pages were cut out there could be a charming adventure novel made out of this. I nominate the pages with the blatant anti-Semitism as the first to go!
  • The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B: Napoleon's first wife, Josephine, basically had a whole entire life before she even met him. And she wasn't even called Josephine...born Marie Josephe Rose, she usually went by the last of those names. She was married, had two children by her faithless husband, and survived the French Revolution, and this historical fiction account of her early years, structured as a diary, tells the story of the life she lived before she became Napoleon's wife in highly entertaining and readable fashion. It's not trying to be Serious Literature, but I quite enjoyed reading it and am interested in the sequels!
  • The Moonstone: What a delight! This mystery classic is both well-plotted and very funny in a dry sort of way. A young woman inherits a massive diamond from her uncle on her birthday, which disappears only hours after she acquires it. A private detective is called in to help solve the riddle, complications ensue. It's told from multiple perspectives, including a sanctimonious spinster aunt that had me cackling.

In Life...
  • Another special session: Technically this one started on the last day of July, but it dominated the first several days of August as well. There were some quite long days that lasted into the early hours of the morning, but hopefully we're done with this until February!
  • Wildfire season: After a fairly mild summer on the fire front, we got ALL of the wildfires in mid/late August. By "we", I mean not the Reno area itself, but California...the smoke comes in over the Sierras and then settles down in the river valley. Our air quality has been terrible for the past like, two weeks, so here's hoping we get some rain

One Thing:

I loved reading the deep dives Tom & Lorenzo took into the costuming of Mad Men, which really helped me understand more about how film and TV costumes really work. They've been running a series recently called One Iconic Look, which is exactly what it sounds like: an examination of the most memorable clothes women have worn in the movies. I've really enjoyed reading these and highly recommend checking them out!

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Book 248: My Own Words

"The institution we serve is ever so much more important than the particular individuals who compose the Court’s bench at any given time. And our job—the job of judging in a U.S. federal court generally—is, in my view, the best work a U.S. lawyer could wish for. We serve no client, our commission is to do what is right—what the law requires and what is just."

Dates read: July 11-17, 2018

Rating: 7/10

Growing up, my role model (and let's be honest, idol) was Sandra Day O'Connor. I wanted to be a lawyer and judge, and the first woman on the Supreme Court was the greatest person I could imagine. As I got older and better able to understand legal writing, she become a justice whose opinions I always appreciated reading, because in her fondness for balancing tests (while tricky to consistently administer) she seemed to always remember that while The Law is a mighty and important thing, it applies to actual people with actual lives and that is not less important than one's judicial philosophy. She remains someone who I profoundly admire, along with the other women who've been appointed to the highest court in the land: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and everyone's favorite pop culture icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In the past several years, she's had books written about her, a documentary and a biopic hit theaters, and been made into an action figure (which I have on my desk as I type). She's become almost more of an idea than a person, which made My Own Words, a collection of her writings/speeches, organized with her co-writers Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, all the more relevant to read. There is an actual woman beneath the mythologizing, and that woman is whip-smart and has a lot of important things to say that can't be slapped on a photo and turned into a meme. Not that I have any beef with that picture of her that says "all them fives need to listen when a ten is talking" in the Beyonce font, but in a world where complex thought is increasingly rare, we owe it to one of our best thinkers to really listen to what she has to say.

The book's collection of her writings has examples all the way from pre-teen editorials submitted to the school paper to oral announcements of Supreme Court dissents. That she is a serious, thoughtful person is obvious even in the early writings, and examples of her work as she pushed for gender equity at the ACLU and then was elevated to the federal bench demonstrate her prodigious intellect and ability to distill arguments to their essence. But it's not all ponderous and serious. There's a written version of remarks about the role of lawyers in opera and an excerpt from the comic opera that was written about Justices Scalia and Ginsburg's close personal friendship, which included trips to the opera, despite the gulf between their views on the law. There are a few pieces that were written/delivered by Gibsburg's beloved husband Marty, whose wit made me giggle in few places.

The co-authors are apparently working on an authorized full biography of Justice Ginsburg, and the way they've worked with the material they have here gives me high hopes that it'll be excellent. It can be challenging to edit down legal writing into something that can be understood by an audience not trained to read it, but between what's clearly Ginsburg's own facility with language and careful tweaks, the material will definitely require attention but isn't difficult to understand. That it's just relatively short vignettes may disappoint some who are looking for something more like a traditional biography, though there is interstitial writing to fill in the gaps and provide context. You do definitely get a sense of who she is through reading it, though. I'd highly recommend this for anyone who's interested in the law, as well as any RBG enthusiasts.

One year ago, I was reading: Death Prefers Blondes

Two years ago, I was reading: Oryx and Crake

Three years ago, I was reading: The Idiot

Four years ago, I was reading: Inamorata

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Questions I Would Ask My Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, we're talking about questions we'd ask our favorite authors. Not all of these authors are my absolute favorites (for one, I only chose authors who are alive), but here are ten questions I'd ask authors I respect and admire!

Roxane Gay: What was your favorite thing about living in the Upper Peninsula during your Ph.D. program?

Margaret Atwood: You've written so many brilliant modern classics. What modern classic means the most to you?

Alison Weir: What person in British Tudor history would you like to write a biography about, but there just isn't enough material there for a book?

Jeffrey Eugenides: What is your favorite place in Detroit?

Katherine Arden: What is your favorite Russian folk tale?

Donna Tartt: Your The Secret History is one of the most popular books not yet adapted for the the screen. Has there ever been an actor you thought would be perfect for one of the roles?

John U Bacon: Who is your favorite Michigan football player of all time?

George RR Martin: When are you going to finish The Winds of Winter?

Nick Hornby: Music was such an important part of High Fidelity. What is your favorite song?

Erik Larson: Is there a historical event or person that you find interesting, but you don't think you're the right person to write about?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Book 247: The Looming Tower

"On the existential plane, Bin Laden was marginalized, out of play, but inside the chrysalis of myth that he had spun about himself he was becoming a representative of all persecuted and humiliated Muslims. His life and the symbols in which he cloaked himself powerfully embodied the pervasive sense of dispossession that characterized the modern Muslim world. In his own miserable exile, he absorbed the misery of his fellow believers; his loss entitled him to speak for theirs; his vengeance would sanctify their suffering. The remedy he proposed was to declare war on the United States."

Dates read: July 5-11, 2018

Rating: 8/10

Lists/awards: Pulitzer Prize, The New York Times bestseller

I'm naturally a high-strung person. Always have been. I'm the type who gets up out of bed to double check if I can't remember locking the door. Every once in a while, I have to remind myself with statistics that what's most likely to harm me are things I do constantly: get in the car and drive, cross the street on my way in to work, exist in a world filled with carcinogens. I'm not the only one, either. I think a lot of us are more frightened by the kinds of things that make newspaper headlines than the ones that are much more likely to be lethal. It's unlikely we'll get caught in a deadly tornado or raging wildfire. It's also vanishingly unlikely we'd ever find ourselves the victim of a terror attack.

And yet, ever since September 11th, that fear has loomed large in the American cultural imagination. It happened once, and it could happen again. But how exactly did it come to happen? That is the question Lawrence Wright seeks to answer in The Looming Tower, in which he traces the development of radical Islam and the life of Osama bin Laden, through the rise of al-Queda and the intelligence community turf wars that handicapped the country's ability to understand and prepare for the threat. It's a story that begins with seeds planted by a few in Egypt that grows to expand to Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Afghanistan, and the United States. It's a story about people, about men whose understandings of the world are on a collision course. It's a story about near-misses and mistakes that ends in tragedy.

I was a little hesitant when I picked this up...I'd read Ghost Wars about six months before and was worried that this would largely be a rehash of things I'd recently read. But that concern turned out to be unfounded. While there's certainly overlap, that book was focused heavily on Afghanistan, and the CIA's involvement in that country's recent history. This book is really about al-Queda and how it's leaders, Osama bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri, came to join together and carry out attacks against the West from their position in Afghanistan. If you're interested in this general subject area and think you might want to read one of these two books, I'd suggest The Looming Tower (or at least reading it first). 

While there is no denying the incredible research and level of detail in Ghost Wars, the end result is a book that tends toward the dense. Having read it once, I'm sure it would take me at least another few passes through it to really feel like everything was sinking it. The Looming Tower doesn't bring that level of specificity, but it's not really trying to either. That's not to insinuate that it's not deeply rooted in fact and without a breadth of source material. The references section is extensive. But what The Looming Tower does well is actually stringing that all together into a cohesive narrative. Depending on the author's skill level (and, to be honest, intended audience), non-fiction can struggle with storytelling and a tendency toward dryness. But this is where Wright shines. Despite working with names, places, and concepts that are largely only vaguely familiar to a Western readership, he never lets the pace get bogged down in information dumps. Like the events it recounts, it keeps on moving forward to what we know is coming.

That's not to say it's perfect. There's an emphasis on counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill (who died helping evacuate others on 9/11), especially his personal life, that doesn't quite fit in with the overall flow of the book that I think should have gotten trimmed. And, having read Ghost Wars, I thought the situation in Afghanistan and the relationship of al-Queda and the Taliban was simplified too far. I think the book could have added about 50 pages and given everything a bit more depth and shading and been stronger for it. But for a primer on the situation in the Middle East and inside the federal bureaucracy that culminated in September 11th, written for a wide audience, I think this a very good book indeed. I highly recommend it!

One year ago, I was reading: The Forgotten Sister

Two years ago, I was reading: Life After Life

Three years ago, I was reading: Stoner

Four years ago, I was reading: Lights Out In The Reptile House

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Which Should be Adapted Into Shows

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, we're talking about adaptations! Books have of course always been popular as a source material for movies, but more and more books are getting made into shows, which really allows for longer books to shine. I did a similar list a couple years back so am going to try not to repeat anything here!

The Luminaries: This book is a doorstopper, and its story of a small mining community in New Zealand would be fascinating to play out on the big screen!

Americanah: This one actually is being made into a miniseries (by HBO!), which I think will be better than a'll give this sprawling, gorgeous story some space to relax and really explore its themes!

A Visit From The Goon Squad: The book, marketed as a novel, is more a set of interconnected short stories so it's already in convenient episodic format.

White Teeth: Multiple settings, multiple generations of characters, complex subject matter about the legacy of should definitely be a series and I would love to watch it.

Daughter of Fortune: There's a lot of story in this book...a young woman growing up and falling in love in the the British community in Chile, a poor rural Chinese boy who grows up to become a doctor and then finds himself sailing the seas, and California Gold Rush. It could be a really fascinating series!

The Line of Beauty: I love a "fancy British people" series, and this book is about a young British gay man coming of age among the fancy set near the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. They actually already did a miniseries of this in the UK, but it was almost 15 years ago and only three episodes and I'd like to see a proper series.

The Age of Miracles: I don't know what the appetite would be right now for a post-apocalyptic show, but I'd never seen this kind of "end of the world" scenario (a slowing of the Earth's rotation) before and I think there would be enough to explore to make a series out of it. 

There There: Again, this is written as a series of interconnected point-of-view chapters that are almost more like stories than a single narrative, so it would be straightforward to adapt into episodes and we should have more media representation of modern Native American experiences.

Daisy Jones and the Six: This one is also sort-of cheating because it was announced it was becoming a series not long after it was published, but I am super looking forward to this one!

A Tale for the Time Being: The way this book plays with metanarrative might make it difficult to adapt well, and some of the themes are heavy, but it was such an interesting book and I'd like to see it be tried, anyways.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Book 246: Disgrace

"A risk to own anything: a car, a pair of shoes, a packet of cigarettes. Not enough to go around, not enough cars, shoes, cigarettes. Too many people, too few things. What there is must go into circulation, so that everyone can have a chance to be happy for a day. That is the theory; hold to the theory and the comforts of theory. Not human evil, just a vast circulatory system, to whose workings pity and terror are irrelevant. That is how one must see life in this country: in its schematic aspect. Otherwise one could go mad. Cars, shoes; women too. There must be some niche in the system for women and what happens to them."

Dates read: July 2-5, 2018

Rating: 8/10

Lists/Awards: Booker Prize, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2012)

Once upon a time, it seemed, there was a kind of script for powerful men who got caught behaving badly around women. There would be a statement full of vague, none-too-sincere seeming apologies for their actions and crocodile tears. There would be a trip to rehab, usually for "sex addiction" but sometimes for substances if they'd blamed that for their misdeeds. There would be an announcement of some sort of charitable contribution, often money but sometimes actual volunteer work if they wanted to really put on a show. They'd go away for a while, 6 months or a year. Then there would be a sit-down interview on a broadcast network where they talked about how much they'd changed and how they couldn't even recognize the person they used to be. The interviewer would lob softball questions designed to elicit sympathy. Then back to business as usual.

Then came Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo. You could see Harvey trying to trot out the old familiar playbook, disappearing to sex rehab. But it didn't work. The failure of the established pattern is also at issue in J.M. Coetzee's Booker Prize-winning Disgrace, except in this case it's because the man in question specifically refuses to use it. David Lurie is a white professor at a university in Cape Town in post-apartheid South Africa. A frustrated scholar of the Romantic literary tradition, interest in his classes has dwindled and he finds himself teaching Communications. He's an unhappy man, twice divorced and mostly uninterested in developing actual relationships with other people. On a whim, he decides to pursue a beautiful student in one of his classes. They sleep together a few times, all at David's initiation and at least once when he's aware that she doesn't actually want to. Suddenly her boyfriend shows up in class, and shortly thereafter he finds himself accused of misconduct against her.

He's offered the standard-issue response: an apology, counseling, a break, but an eventual return assured. He refuses, simply capitulating, and leaves Cape Town for the countryside, where his daughter Lucy owns and runs a small farm. No sooner does he get somewhat accustomed to life there, though, than an episode of violence changes things forever. Three young black men attack David and Lucy, attempting to burn him and gang-raping her. The already-strained relationship between father and daughter becomes even more tense as both try to cope with their trauma in different ways.

It's obvious fairly early on that the characters and situations aren't intended to be always read as strictly realistic. There's a lot of allegory going on here about apartheid and the wounds that it left and the violence that was a crucial part of that system continuing to resonate. I found myself wishing I had more background in the history of South Africa, because I felt like there were layers and layers of meaning and some of them were out of my grasp. Disgrace is a fairly short book, not even 250 pages, but there is a lot going on in it because Coetzee is an absolutely master of his craft. Every word of this book was obviously carefully, deliberately chosen and he evokes so much by just letting his plot and characters speak for themselves. And speaking of characters, such a sticking point for me as a reader, this was a strange experience in that I didn't find anyone especially compelling but still found the book as a whole to be something that I was invested in.

So what I'm saying is that this is a very good book, but reader be warned: it is bleak. It is a story about a terrible person, who does some awful things. You almost wonder if he deserves it on some level, but even worse things happen to his daughter and she's just trying to live on her little piece of land and doesn't seem at first blush to be culpable. Or is she? Are all of those who benefit from systemic inequality culpable? There is a note of hope at the end with the promise of the birth of a biracial child, clearly meant to be symbolic of the way forward, but honestly using a child who will also be the offspring of a violent rape of a lesbian woman to represent that hope is extremely cynical. This is a high quality book that I appreciated the experience of reading and am glad I read and have no plans to ever return to because it was hard. I would definitely recommend it, but go in expecting a downer (and be aware that there's violence toward animals/animal death in case you're sensitive to it).

One year ago, I was reading: Bright Boulevard, Bold Dreams

Two years ago, I was reading: The Informant

Three years ago, I was reading: Charity Girl

Four years ago, I was reading: A Passage to India

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week's subject is books we love but have never reviewed. I've only really reviewed the books I've read in the last couple years, so this is basically a list of my all-time favorites.

Lolita: The most incredible writing, the fact that it was written in Nabokov's third language makes me want to weep for my insufficiency with just the one. I have so many thoughts about this book and why it is brilliant.

The Secret History: I genuinely believe that this is a book that everyone could enjoy. It has rich characters and an intriguing plot. It begins with a crime and then winds back in time to show you how it happened, and then what happened after, which keeps the suspense up. I have re-read it so many times since I was introduced to it in AP English!

Catherine, Called Birdy: A childhood favorite, mostly for the decidedly un-ladylike heroine at its center.

The Virgin Suicides: I love this book so much, it's so beautiful and such a well-realized portrait of a time and place. As a native metro Detroiter, I am especially invested in the story.

The Golden Compass: Another one that deeply appealed to childhood me in part because of the female hero who refused to be docile and compliant and what a girl "should" be. The sequels are also great, but the original volume is where my heart really lies.

1984: I first read this in 7th or 8th grade, I think, and I believe it influenced my early interest in politics...and my sometimes-cynical perspective on it.

In Cold Blood: This is not just my favorite work of nonfiction by a country mile, it's one of my all-time favorite books. I know there are concerns with Capote's reporting, but anyone expecting 100% accuracy out of any nonfiction book outside of an academic history is naive (and even then, decisions about information to include v. what to leave out can influence the perspective of the reader).

The God of Small Things: Another book where the luminous writing is what drew me in, and then the heartbreaking story and richly drawn rendering of a family and their relationships elevated it to my top tier.

Anna Karenina: This is half here because I thought War & Peace would be too pretentious, half because it's an incredible book in its own right. Such incredible depth of characters, and the story is actually pretty straightforward but really beautifully told.

The Remains of the Day: This book is just...exquisite. It's elegant and reveals itself with such heartbreaking steadiness. I was a wreck by the end in the best possible way.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Book 245: Perfect Murder, Perfect Town

"When the detectives began working the Ramsey case, they said to each other that they wouldn't settle for anything less than the death penalty. After the CBI's tests determined that what they had thought was semen was in fact blood, the detectives said they would accept nothing less than a conviction on a murder charge. A few months later, they would have settled for a felony conviction. By the time they met with the FBI at Quantico in September 1997, they would have considered an indictment a victory. When Eller was replaced, handcuffing would have felt like a triumph. After a solid year of working the case, they prayed for the chance at a second interview with the Ramseys. Now, eighteen months in, they were happy to have the opportunity to present the case to the DA."

Dates read: June 25- July 2, 2018

Rating: 7/10

When I was a kid, I was on the swim team. I grew up on the lake, learned how to swim early, and just loved the water...I spent basically all summer splashing around either at home or at day camp. I am without much in the way of athletic gifts (read: I am slow and clumsy), but I was a reasonably competent swimmer, so my mom signed me up for the swim team. There was some contention about it my freshman year of high school: I was no longer interested in the kind of practice required for high school swimmers, so I wanted to drop out. I was mediocre at best, so no one would have missed me. But my mom, remembering her own mother's decision to force her off the swim team she loved, refused to let me leave before the end of the season. I swore I'd never swim another lap if she persisted. She did, and I haven't swam one since.

What I'm going for here, beyond an example of my supreme stubbornness, is that many parents direct their kids toward activities that they themselves enjoyed growing up. My father-in-law was a long-time runner and track coach. My husband ran track throughout high school into college (and liked it!). And when Patsy Ramsey had a beautiful little daughter, she put her in pageants, which she'd participated in and enjoyed growing up. While it seems very unlikely at this point that the pageants had anything to do with JonBenet's death, at the time it lead to a lot of suspicion. Lawrence Schiller recounts these rumors, as well as quite a lot of actual facts, in Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, his book on the still-unsolved murder of the little beauty queen. Sourced from what seems to have been exhaustive research and interviews with as many of the players as possible, it recounts how the case developed (and developed issues) right from the moment the cops were called to report a kidnapping until the case was finally submitted to the grand jury.

What actually happened as a result of that grand jury (an indictment was issued against John and Patsy Ramsey, but the prosecutor refused to sign it) isn't covered, and that is of course the most interesting part. Who did it? Someone did. The book steadfastly refuses to answer the question, though. Schiller clearly is trying to stay neutral as much as possible, presenting the police department's firm belief that the parents were getting away with murder with just as much credibility as the prosecutor's office investigator's belief that it was an intruder. The answer is, of course, that we will almost certainly never know. JonBenet is dead. Patsy Ramsey, too, has passed away in the years since. John is still around, but unless he or whoever else might be responsible issues a deathbed confession, this case will remain forever open.

Schiller spends a lot of time on context to really develop a comprehensive picture of what was happening at the time in the world in which the Ramseys lived. The City of Boulder, its tightly controlled development and the resulting high price of real estate creating a little enclave, the rareness with which the police department had to investigate serious crimes, the charging philosophy of the District Attorney...all are relevant to what happened, or didn't happen. It's obvious that there were serious complications even from the start, with friends at the Ramseys having arrived at their home even before the police, with John apparently shutting the open basement window, with his discovery of his daughter's body and race with her upstairs. All of that destroyed valuable evidence, evidence that could have solved the crime maybe. Was clumsiness and shock at the root of the Ramseys' behavior? Or criminality?

We're presented with evidence both ways. At some points, reading this book, I was sure they'd done it, but at others sure they wouldn't have. I kept having to remind myself that I know full well, as a former attorney, that the parents absolutely did the smart thing by getting lawyers hired so soon and refusing to cooperate with the police. If I have one piece of free legal advice I ever give, it's that you should never ever talk to the police without counsel present. I would have done the same thing in their place. But it's so hard to reconcile this understanding with the gut assumption that refusing to talk to cops about the death of your daughter "isn't what an innocent person would do". It's easy to say they should have cooperated, but until you've been in their place and figured out that you're likely the number one suspect in a murder, it's hard to say what you would have done differently with their resources. To get back to the book, it's well-researched and well-developed. I could have done with less about the tabloid reporter, who Schiller clearly found interesting but I did not. It doesn't have much of a narrative flow, it's more a work of reporting than of story-telling, but it's organized and clear. I would definitely recommend it to those curious about the crime!

One year ago, I was reading: Marie Antoinette

Two years ago, I was reading: Less

Three years ago, I was reading: Party Monster

Four years ago, I was reading: Reading Lolita in Tehran

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Colors In Their Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, we're looking at books with colors in their titles. This was a hard one to do without repeating ones, and I had to cheat a little bit too.

The Scarlet Letter: I almost went for The Red Tent here, but I've talked enough about that book on these lists so decided to highlight this classic, which a lot of people did not like but I actually think is really good!

A Clockwork Orange: The title is actually referring to the fruit and not the color per se, but it's my list and I make the rules!

James and the Giant Peach: Another fruit-not-color, but peach also works as a color and I don't talk about this book very much although it was one of my favorites as a kid!

The Golden Compass: I'm lucky they changed the name for the American release of one of my all-time most frequently re-read books! 

Green Girl: I read this book a couple years back and while it wasn't especially good, I think about it every so often. There was an appealing rawness to it. 

Olive Kitteridge: Last one where it was definitely not meant to refer to the color but I'm taking it that way anyway! Olive is the name of woman who inspired some mixed feelings in me (as did the book as a while)

Island of the Blue Dolphins: I loved this book so much as a kid and still remember doing a book report on it in elementary school!

The Color Purple: This was the easiest one to think of! I haven't read this book since AP English in high school and loved it, so I hope to be able to revisit it someday soon.

Black Beauty: I like the book, of course (like every little girl who loved horses), but the movie was one of my absolute favorites as a kid!

The White Tiger: This is a sharp, funny satire and more people should read it.