“At least they’re reading” is what I always say when somebody is reading what has been labeled a piece of literary garbage. Nope, I’m not naming names. As someone who dedicated her undergrad studies to reading and writing copious essays, short stories etc etc while high on Korean instant coffee until 5a.m., I always keep my eye out for those all-night reads. You know, the books that you begin to read thinking you will put it down in 15 minutes to do laundry, and when midnight rolls around, you’re more than halfway through.
With two weeks of Summer left, I’m sure you’ll find enough time to give these a look.
MISSING ANGEL JUAN by Francesca Lia Block Ever since I was a young coyote, I have always been a fan of Francesca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels books, a series about a kooky, definitely untraditional family that lives in Los Angeles. Ms. Francesca knows how to add a layer of magic over the lovely yet often complicated City of Angels. Missing Angel Juan is my favorite book from the series. It’s about Witch Baby, the black sheep of the family, who goes off to New York to look for Angel Juan, but ends up meeting her dead grandfather Charlie Bat and learns an important lesson on letting go. Why the odd name? Witch Baby was left on the door step alongside some Voodoo Barbie dolls by her mother, Vixanne. Witch Baby has several surreal adventures around NYC, and this contemporary fairy tale immerses the reader in the sights and smells of the story.
THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson Set in a futuristic Brazil, this novel follows June Costa, who hopes her art will make her famous, until she meets Enki, the Summer King of Palmares Três. Together, they create dangerous public art pieces that get them into trouble with the Aunties, a group of ageless women who run the pyramid city. Aside from the fact that a king is ritually sacrificed every year in this matriarchal society, June begins to discover that her beloved city has an even shadier side.
Listen to her Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy here, for her take on writing, travel, and how this book came about.
THE COUNTRY UNDER MY SKIN by Gioconda Belli This isn’t a YA book nor a work of fiction, but a real life adventure that involves war, espionage, family, exile, corrupt leaders and heartbreak. Gioconda is most famous for her poetry which shocked the upper classes because it was out of the norm for women to write about their own bodies and sexuality.In her memoir, Belli chronicles her life beginning from an early marriage at 19 which quickly turned sour, to gathering information for the Sandinistas, and later marrying an American reporter and moving to Santa Monica. Aside from living under a dictatorship, Belli also describes living as a woman with chauvinist revolutionaries, and other contradictions in her political and romantic affairs.
People often ask me about my favorite book, but truth is I don’t really have one. These are my most favorite, and I highly recommend them for the young folks as a book to read instead of listening to another boring high school lecture from outdated textbooks. True wisdom comes from learning to do your homework in other classes the day it’s due.