|The Magician King by Lev Grossman is a must read for fantasy nerds who enjoy
pop culture references.
Bossypants by Tiny Fey. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I love Tina Fey. The sarcastic and self-deprecating humor that was her forte on Saturday Night Live and remains on 30 Rock is apparent in her memoir. She’s just a genuinely funny writer and performer without the vulgarity of Sarah Silverman or the quirkiness of Maria Bamford. And she doesn’t make me think “How the hell did this woman get famous?” like I do when I see Kathy Griffin. If you didn’t enjoy Fey’s turn as anchor on “Weekend Update,” then Bossypants isn’t for you . . . but if you enjoy her humor and want more, then it’s worth the read.
The Magician King by Lev Grossman. This is the sequel to a book I reviewed in 2010 called The Magicians. It continues the story of Quentin Coldwater, a modern-day Harry Potter . . . minus the whole “Chosen One” theme. Quentin is just one of many magicians who matriculate through Brakebills, a Hogwarts-style boarding school for magicians. He starts off this novel as one of the four rulers of Fillory, a Narnia-like alternate universe. He takes on an adventure through worlds and time, mostly because he’s bored . . . but his adventure turns into a quest to save magic throughout the entire universe. I thoroughly enjoy Grossman’s writing, but unlike the initial volume in this series, he intertwines the story of Julia, a queen of Fillory who took a different path to royalty than Quentin did. Julia’s story, which takes up probably 25% of the novel, is largely boring and seemingly unrelated until the very end. Grossman has a way of mixing a fun and exciting fantasy story with gruesome details that make it exciting to see what physical or emotional torment he’ll come up with next.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Okay, I’m a follower. A few months ago, when I was vacationing in the Caribbean, every third person lounging on the beach or around the pool was reading this book. I had heard bits and pieces about the plot and wasn’t impressed, but I thought to myself, “I must be missing something.” After football season I snagged a copy and burned through the 640+ pages in about a week. I normally like to learn new words or laugh during my reading, but I did neither for this one. Well, I did learn a few new words, but they’ll only ever do me any good if I take a class in Swedish Geography. I did enjoy the plot and the three-mysteries-in-one nature of the book, but the hype was a little much. Here’s a brief plot synopsis: A disgraced journalist gets hired to investigate the 1966 disappearance of a millionaire’s grandniece, and in the process of the investigation, an alternative rock girl is hired to help him out with some computer sleuthing. Then everyone dies. (Just kidding about that last part. Or am I? I’m not.)
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. Acclaimed essayist Sedaris writes a series of stories involving hypocritical animals. Yes, wild animals and barnyard animals are the vehicles for telling morality tales, using some generally accepted stereotypes about each species. Some of the stories seem a little forced, and as the book goes along, Sedaris seems to run out of gas. But the first few tales are worth reading, especially “The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck,” which made me laugh out loud. I wouldn’t buy this book if I were you, but if you see it sitting on someone’s coffee table or have a couple minutes while browsing at
Borders Barnes and Noble, it’s worth the five minutes to read a couple tales.