Jan’s Summer Reading


Jan is BookPeople’s second floor inventory manager. When she is not slinging books (or ravenously reading them), she buys too many beauty products, parks her eyeballs in front of an Asian cinema screen, and snuggles the stinkiest, laziest dog in Austin. Her happiness hinges on how geographically close she is at any moment to a Korean restaurant.

The Peripheral by William Gibson

9780399158445Flynn is a young woman who lives in [Small Town], America sometime in the near future. Wilf Netherton is a publicist living in early 22nd century London. When Flynn by chance witnesses a gruesome, distant future murder, both her US Marine Corps veteran brother Burton and Wilf must protect her–doing so from different timelines. Flynn eventually comes to inhabit a peripheral–a robotic avatar that connects her to Wilf’s timeline. Peripheral is written with the stunning clarity of foresight that has made Gibson such an enlightened voice over decades of science fiction. But the work is also crammed with drones, cybernetic enhancement, chases, action–all of it centered around a character and story that is almost a cinematic experience.

Clariel by Garth Nix

9780061561559To be honest, I read this one last summer, but Garth Nix’s magic on me is old…and powerful. He casts spells in my gut. Clariel is the continuation/prequel in Nix’s Old Kingdom Chronicles. Set in an Old Kingdom 600 years before the events of the original Abhorsen trilogy, Clariel unfolds a new Old Kindgom before us, one that looks vastly different from the Old Kingdom beleaguered by the Dead which we know–one that is beaming with a vibrant and powerful merchant middle class, where the Dead do not trespass on the living and haven’t for years. Clariel’s one desire is to become a Ranger and live out her life in the forest–alone. But as the daughter of nobility (and relative of the Abhorsens) her family have other plans for her. Clariel is clever but naive, independent but trusting, strong but emotional–in short, she is us.

I grew up with these stories (the first, Sabriel, turned 20 years old this year!), and I have always suspected that Nix had more Old Kingdom stories locked away in his head (which I imagine looks like the library of the Clayr from the second book Lirael). With this book, my suspicions have been rewarded that the Old Kingdom as a complex and nuanced history–one which many participants (not just the Abhorsens) shape. And Nix has plenty to say about unquestioning loyalty and the inherent nature of things.

Oh and welcome back Mogget, fiction’s most sarcastic Free Magic cat.

A Kim Jong-Il Production by Paul Fischer

9781250054265Moving on to non-fiction (you want a well-rounded summer, don’t you?)… In 1978, South Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-Hee became one story out of the thousands of those abducted by North Korea under the direction of Kim Jong-Il. His motive with this kidnapping? To revitalize the sinking North Korean film (propaganda) industry. I have read a lot of defector and refugee accounts. Even in fiction, North Koreans attest to the transformative power of their cinema. Often, particularly in the 1980s and 90s, the cinema was the only joy in their lives of woe.

This is the true story of how a dictator’s sociopathic fixation with cinema led him to destroy the lives of two talented artists who did their job too well–ushering an age of cinematic enlightenment to the people of North Korea before their harrowing (and cinematic, of course) escape. Fischer’s book offers invaluable insight into North Korea’s obsession with the Western film industry (remember last year’s Sony hacks?). When it comes to this isolated nation, truth is often stranger than fiction.

A Hot Glue-Gun Mess by Mr. Kate

9780062346612This one’s for the ladies (okay, fellas too). Kate Albrecht, known to her online followers by her brand Mr. Kate, is a jewelry designer, interior decorator, beauty and style icon, and now published author. Her style is funky (occasionally punky), affordable, bohemian chic–and these DIY projects in A Hot Glue Gun Mess can be done in all of a weekend. In this DIY book/tell-all-memoir, Kate fuses the funny with the fashionable. How many other craft books do you own are laugh-out-loud entertaining? Read the stories before you start the craft project or you’ll get so distracted, you might just leave a hot glue gun mess!

You Deserve A Drink by Mamrie Hart

9780142181676After all that intrigue, adventure, and crafting, You Deserve A Drink! Named after her hilariously raunchy YouTube series, Mamrie Hart’s YDAD is one part memoir, one part recipe book, with just a dash of online-creator-culture insight. Shake well. Garnish with a built-in drinking game. Hart includes some of her most cringe-worthy true adventures (like her road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas with the worst hired driver on the planet), but she plies the reader with delicious–I’m dead serious–DELICIOUS drink recipes at the start of every chapter.

Pairs well with Mr. Kate’s A Hot Glue Gun Mess–especially for Topless Tuesday*

*No, I won’t explain. You’ll need to buy a copy of YDAD to find out.

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