Being a sort-of-Review of The Gammage Cup

Over at the Enchanted Inkpot posted a list of “little known fantasy gems”┬álast week. Mostly I hadn’t heard of them (making them little known to me, at least!) but I was surprised to see one of my favorite childhood books, The Gammage Cup, on there!

This is the cover I have.

Man, I effing loved this book! The main character’s name is Gummy and he lives in Slipper-on-the-Water. Gummy is a poet who doesn’t like to follow the rules and traditions of the town. He dares to paint his door a different color! I mean, come on.

There are elements of Lord of the Rings (the Minnipins are reminiscent of Hobbits) and the Wizard of Oz (an important historical figure is Foley the Balloonist). This was written in the 50s and so deals with some of the usual themes of the time: threats from outsiders and issues of conformity. That might take away from the book for older readers, but children from around 8-10 who are thinking about these issues for the first time, it can be a powerful novel*. (As it was for me!) Still, I’d be will to bet it’d be a seriously fun book no matter your age!

*Just like I think Charlotte Sometimes, though I enjoyed reading it for the first time as a 24-year-old, would be incredible and game-changing for 10-13-year-olds who are struggling with/thinking about identity.

Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge

That’s right, Alyssa from the Shady Glade is hosting a Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge. Given that Pierce’s books meant a lot to me at one time or another, I can hardly resist, can I?

Mia’s doing it, too, and I also mentioned it to the most die-hard Pierce fan I know, my friend Lizzie, who, without even looking at the challenge page, knew she was going to sign up for the highest level, reading all of Pierce’s books.

I’m going to be a little more circumspect, and sign up for the Lady Knight level, where I aim to read 9 to 14 of her books. Here’s my list, though I can’t promise which order I’ll read it.

1) Beka Cooper – My book club (which both Mia and Lizzie are in) decided to read this this month, so of course I’m including it!
2-5) The Immortals (Wild Magic, etc.) – Wild Magic was my first Pierce and I somehow managed to never read the rest of the quartet. Time to remedy.
6-9) Alanna – Need I elucidate?
10) Bloodhound – The second in the Beka Cooper series.

What else? The Trickster books? Protector of the Small? Circle of Magic? Not the Circle Opens, unless I reread CoM and wanted more. It’s been too long since I read CoM that I don’t think I could jump right into Circle Opens. I’d love some opinions as I’m actually pretty ill-read in Tamora Pierce! And how about you? Will you join in?

Slightly-More-Than-Halfway-Through-the-Year Book List

Soooo, I meant to do this back in June when the year hit the halfway mark, but time makes fools of us all. Anyway, I’ve been doing my best to keep a list of books read for 2011, although I’ve reached some conflict about counting comic books, manga volumes, short stories for my Nebula-nominee reading group…I’ve mostly just used my own judgment (about how stand-alone the volumes could be considered, whether a work only feels complete with the whole storyline, etc.) and figured anyone who argues with my logic can go kiss grits. So, without further ado, my slightly-more-than-halfway-through-the-year book list:

plus signs (+) denote rereads

1. Challenges: Book Two of the Blending – Sharon Green
2. The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
3. E Pluribus Unicorn – Theodore Sturgeon
4. The Green Glass Sea – Ellen Klages
5. +A Girl Named Disaster – Nancy Farmer
6. Victory of Eagles – Naomi Novik
7. Tongues of Serpents – Naomi Novik
8. Book of a Thousand Days – Shannon Hale
9. Sky Coyote – Kage Baker
10. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry
11. A Nameless Witch – A. Lee Martinez
12. The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale
13. Plain Kate – Erin Bow
14. Monster – A. Lee Martinez
15. Dogsbody – Diana Wynn Jones
16. Enna Burning – Shannon Hale
17. Incarceron – Catherine Fisher
18. +Prep – Curtis Sittenfeld
19. Soulless – Gail Carriger
20. +Emperor Mage – Tamora Pierce
21. Sabriel – Garth Nix
22. SVH: Mystery Date – Kate William
23. American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang
24. It’s Too Late to Say I’m Sorry – Joey Comeau
25. Gil’s All Fright Diner – A. Lee Martinez
26. Barefoot Gen vols 3&4
27. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson
28. The Last Unicorn – Peter Beagle
29. The Rabbi’s Cat – Joann Sfar
30. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You – Peter Cameron
31. Lirael – Garth Nix
32. +The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot
33. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
34. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
35. Abhorsen – Garth Nix
36. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac – Gabrielle Zevin
37. Dairy Queen – Catherine Gilbert Murdock
38. White Cat – Holly Black
39. Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls – Bennett Madison
40. Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan
41. Sloppy Firsts – Megan McCaffrey
42. +Juniper – Monica Furlong
43. The Swan Maiden – Heather Tomlinson
44. The Off Season – Catherine Gilbert Murdock
45. Just Listen – Sarah Dessen
46. St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves – Karen Russell

I made some comparisons between my reading list so far from 2011 and my complete reading list from 2010*:

2010:

Books read (t0tal): 50
SF: 7
F: 16
BIO: 3
MG: 2
CONTEMP: 5
YA: 3
HUMOR: 1
COMIC: 5
EROTICA: 1
HORROR: 0
Books written by male author: 27
Books written by female author: 23
rereads: 10

2011:

Books read (so far): 46
SF: 2
F: 17
BIO: 0
MG: 1
CONTEMP: 4
YA: 16
HUMOR: 0
COMIC: 3
EROTICA: 0
HORROR: 1
Books written by male author: 15
Books written by female author: 31
rereads: 5

A couple things I notice from breaking down the information is that my consumption of young adult novels is up compared to last year, as is (slightly) my fantasy consumption, while my consumption of science-fiction has gone down. I’m about par for the course on rereading, if I keep up the pace. My volume of reading is also up from last year. I am also reading more books authored by females this year, while last year it was nearly even, with males winning out by a margin of 4 books.

It should be noted that circumstances, of course, skew the material one way or another; for the first part of 2010, I was still attending university, and as such was consumed with reading books for class rather than for pleasure. Similarly, I was taking a senior seminar that was centered around the SF author Samuel Delany, which skews the 2010 data towards SF and male authors, as we read at least 10 of his books in that class. I also had to do my best deciding how to categorize the books. Some, like The Hunger Games or Lirael, are a combination of genres (SF/YA and F/YA). I went with a combination of how the books were marketed, and my own personal opinion about which genre felt stronger for the text as a whole (so The Hunger Games became YA and Lirael became F).

I could probably go on, but I think I’ll stop here. It’s an interesting exercise and one that I enjoy. Tracking a year’s reading habits can tell you a lot, but comparing one year to another can give you more overarching information about how your habits and preferences as a reader change–or don’t–in the long run.

*Forgive me for not posting last year’s list as well; I think it would make this post prohibitively long. Just trust that I’m not falsifying this information to make myself look cooler.