Friday, January 9, 2009 by Audrey
First Five Books of 2009:

1) The Polysyllabic Spree, by Nick Hornby. Finished January 1.
I rather like Nick Hornby. I liked both High Fidelity and About a Boy. This is in much the same style--it is a collection of essays he wrote for The Believer about the books he bought and read every month. He has a very warm style as he's discussing why he doesn't like certain books or why he loves others. I think this is a fantastic read for anyone who loves to read because it validates the feelings and thoughts that may be going through someone's mind as they read.
4 days

2) Flush, by Carl Hiassen. Finished January 2.
A very sweet, funny book about a boy who is trying to clear his father's name of a protest crime he committed (he sank a casino boat that was illegally dumping raw sewage into a bay and contaminating beaches). It was a great story of a family sticking together and trying to do the right thing.
1 day

3) Small Steps, by Louis Sachar. Finished January 2.
This is a sequel to Sachar's Holes, following one of the characters as he is out of jail and trying to finish high school and start a good life. He gets into a bunch of scrapes as a result of trying to help a friend in need and the story details his way of getting out of them. It was another very sweet story. I think that's why I love well-written YA books--they always have a good message but aren't preachy.
2 hours

4) Loser, by Jerry Spinelli. Finished January 3.
Detailing the evolution of a young boy from an inquisitive, noisy kid to a "loser", this book was, again, sweet without being saccharine. He does his own thing without worrying about what people think about him, which is something I always find admirable--it isn't something I'm very good at.
2 hours

5) A Friend at Midnight, by Caroline Cooney. Finished January 4.
When her estranged father abandons her brother at an airport and 15-year-old Lily has to rescue him, she has a difficult time figuring out how to forgive her father and deal with the difficulties of a divorce situation. I thought it played out nicely without being preachy. While not a religious book, it was nice to read a YA book that depicted its protagonist as believing in God. That's not something I've seen a lot of in the fiction I've read lately.
1.5 hours

I also started two books and didn't finish them:

1) Tretiak: The Legend, by Vladislav Tretiak.
I started this book knowing I would only read certain sections. Tretiak was a hockey goalie on the USSR team against the Americans in the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. I've been a little obsessed with this matchup ever since I saw Miracle a few years ago and then read Sheila O'Malley's discussions of the American Olympic Hockey Team in 1980 (see here, here, here and here). I just got this book to read Tretiak's reaction and thoughts on the American team. I didn't have much interest in reading the rest at this point. Some of it, especially where he discussed his USSR military service, looked interesting, but I just didn't have the desire I would have needed to finish it.

2) Escape, by Carolyn Jessop.
I heard good things about this memoir of a woman who left a polygamous marriage to a leader in the FLDS church. But when I started reading, she had a lot of negative comments about religion, particularly the Mormon religion (which was not the polygamous religion in question, just to make things clear!). I have a hard time reading criticisms about my church, especially at times when my faith is feeling just a little quavery, so I put it down before I could really get involved in the story.
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