Book Review – Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones

Summary

This collection of more than twenty-five critical essays, speeches, and biographical pieces chosen by Diana Wynne Jones before her death in 2011 is essential reading for the author’s many fans and for students and teachers of the fantasy genre and creative writing in general. The volume includes insightful literary criticism alongside autobiographical anecdotes, revelations about the origins of the author’s books, and reflections about the life of an author and the value of writing for young people.

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I find it regrettable that I hadn’t read more of Diana Wynne Jones’ novels before reading Reflections: On the Magic of Writing. I’m a fan of hers, but perhaps not that good at being one. I’ve read Howl’s Moving Castle twice — which I find superior to the Studio Ghibli film — and about half of the sequel Castle in the Air, which I did not finish for reasons separate from the book itself. I’m also familiar with her book The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land, which I love for its jabs against the clichés and overused tropes found in the Fantasy genre. It’s a small amount of her work, but her writing always drew me in and I got a good sense of her style. This is what inspired me to pick up this collection, which I came across in a Dollar Tree of all places.Read More »

Book Review – Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Summary from Goodreads

A guy walks into a bar car and…

From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.

Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.

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Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is a collection of narrative essays by David Sedaris, and is his most recent book. This is the third collection of his I’ve read in less than a year, which is noteworthy to me because I’ve found there was a substantial difference between my mindset going into the first essay collection I read, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and this one.Read More »

Book Review – When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

whenyouareengulfedinflamescover

When You Are Engulfed in Flames is the sixth book by David Sedaris originally published in 2008. I was drawn to read more of his work after reading Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk earlier this year. While there were many others to choose from, this cover depicting a Van Gogh painting of a skeleton smoking a cigarette and the eye-catching title made this book hard to resist. It collects anecdotal essays about a range of situations: a talkative cab driver turning the conversation far too sexual, the experience of buying your partner a human skeleton, and spending a week with a miserable and slothful babysitter.Read More »

Book Review – Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson

Why I Hate Canadians

This past week I finished reading Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson, a collection of essays and anecdotes published in 1997 about the author’s experiences as a Canadian, as well as Canadian culture and history more generally. As the title suggests, Ferguson takes a sarcastic and humorous approach, challenging a lot of the points we use to define ourselves as Canadians, often referencing history, contemporary culture, and politics. The print I read was the 10th anniversary edition, with a foreword from the author. It being nearly 20 years since the books original release, the foreword helped to but the book in context.Read More »