Top Ten Tuesday: Theme Songs for Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme brought to you by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish (the pic also belongs to them).  This week’s theme is the Top Ten Books I’d Give A Theme Song To.

How fun is this week’s theme?  I must admit, though, that I have never ever thought about which songs go with which books, so this was pretty tough for me.  And my jet-lagged brain (it’s possible to get jet lag off a 2.5 hour flight across only one time zone, right?) couldn’t come up with more than five, so uh this is my Top Five Tuesday…

1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger with “I am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel – Hello, teen angst.  I have no need for friendship/friendship causes pain/it’s laughter and it’s nothing I disdain.

2. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness with “Imagine” by John Lennon –Imagine all the people sharing all the world.  I like to imagine that the New Worlders in Ness’s series could find a way to share the world.  And I also also imagine the idealism that brought the New Worlders to the New World sounded a whole lot like Lennon’s idealism in “Imagine.”  Again, I cannot stop talking about how awesome the Chaos Walking series was (or how awesome John Lennon is, but that is another story).

3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green with “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison – Colin is constantly wanting validation of Katherine’s love for him.  So I sort of imagine that this song would remind him he is loved.  Abundantly.  And with much cheese factor.

4. Looking for Alaska by John Green with “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes – I have armchair diagnosed Alaska with bipolar disorder.  “Blister in the Sun” is a manic song.  Alaska is often manic.  Therefore they go together.

5. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson with “Hotel California” by the Eagles – Both the song and the book are creepy and unsettling.  They also start with seemingly normal situations (checking into a hotel; a girl going shopping in the village) and end pretty terrifyingly (you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave; homicidal girl burns down her house to keep her sister home forever).

A Monster Calls- Patrick Ness

Image from Goodreads

After striking out on adult fiction this month (see Angelica and Middlesex), I decided to go to the library and check out a bunch of young adult/children’s literature.  This is one of those I picked up, since I was a big fan of Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy, had heard lovely things about this book, and also it showed up on the Lone Star List (the Texas Library Association’s picks of the best books for grades 6-8).  I was not disappointed.

This is a beautiful book both in words and in illustrations.  It is the story of Conor O’Malley, a young boy whose mother is seriously ill.  Conor suffers from a recurring nightmare that he refuses to acknowledge.  One night, a monster comes to visit Conor, promising to tell him three tales in exchange for one truthful tale from Conor.  This process helps Conor finally comes to terms with his very conflicted feelings about his mother’s illness.  The ending of this book was perfect (and a bit tearful).

Ness is really masterful at dealing with big issues, in this case grief and loss.  This book deals in particular with shades of gray (interestingly, it is illustrated in black-white-gray) and internal conflicts among those dealing with loss.  Conor feels angry, sad, scared, guilty, and weary all at the same time.  He can both want his mother to survive and want her to die.  His truth is that life is not black and white– that he can still love his mother, even if he wants the struggle of her illness to end.

There isn’t really anything bad I can say about this book.  It is a well-written, thoughtful, beautifully-illustrated, meaningful read.

Mini-Reviews: Part 2

A continuation of the mini-reviews of my January reading.  Part one is here.

The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman

You know how Homocide is like a gritty Law and Order?  I was told that The Magicians was a gritty Harry Potter.  Gritty?  Yes.  Harry Potter?  Vaguely.  The story is about Quentin, an incredibly intelligent young man who gets accepted into a secret magic college.  He learns some magic and then graduates and is left, like many young adults, wandering drunk and aimlessly into adulthood.  He and his magician buddies experiment in inter-world travel and end up in the magical, Narnia-esque land of Fillory.  Adventures of a gritty and not-so-heroic and not-so-happily-ever-after nature ensue.  When I started The Magicians, I complained to my husband that it was paced too slowly and that I wasn’t really into it.  And then immediately after I got so absorbed by the book that I could not put it down, finished it quickly, and decided to go get the next book from the library.  The Magician King was also paced slowly, but was really absorbing.  Wait these out, they are so worth it.  If you like fantasy, but also intelligent and funny, books, read these.  Grossman has a way with words that is just delightful and amusing… I wish I had saved some of my favorite quotes to illustrate why I kept laughing out loud while reading.  Also, I read a little of his blog (google it, if you need a sampling of his humor).  The dude can write.  Anyways, I am eagerly awaiting the next installment and the TV series that might come out of this, too.  And, by the by, these books have inspired me to actually read the Narnia books, since I seemed to have missed them as a child.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

I read The Hunger Games series over Christmas and had read that this trilogy was of a similar genre.  Ness’s series is really wonderful (and I would say it is even better thanThe Hunger Games)– intense and heartbreaking.  The premise of the books is that a boy, Todd, lives in a world of all males where everyone can hear one another’s thoughts, which are called “Noise.”  One day Todd comes across some strange things, silence and a girl.  The girl, Viola, and Todd go on to become major players in a war that threatens to destroy their entire planet.  There is a lot of meat on this bone.  Issues of maturity/coming of age, gender roles/equality, racial (well, interspecies) conflicts/equality, power, and violence/warfare all come into the story.  Perhaps the most important issue Ness brings up is the power of information or the Noise- how it unites people, divides people, and controls people.  If YA dystopia appeals to you, this is a must-read series.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I had seen good things about this book everywhere and enjoyed what little I had read of Rubin’s blog, so I decided to check out the book (after a loooong wait on the hold list at the library).  I have been thinking a lot in the last six months or so about ways in which to improve my quality of life, so I enjoyed that this book offered concrete examples of simple and straight-forward ways in which the author increased her own happiness without making any major life changes (no divorce, moving to India, religious conversion, or the like).  This book has inspired me to be a little more active in trying to make my own happiness, especially in the areas of physical health and also in organizing my clutter.  Her tip to tidy up 15 minutes every evening really helps smooth my mornings out… although I haven’t been perfect in following through with it.  The unhappiness in my life right now is largely career-related and Rubin was already so settled and happy in her career that her advice in that area wasn’t that helpful to me.  An interesting read for sure, but perhaps a bit overrated.  It may just be that I am not totally into self-help, but this was not as life-changing as I was led to believe it would be.