Oberlin Blogs

My summer in books

August 21, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

We all know that I have an obsession with young adult fiction, but I'd like to take some time now to show you that what I read is, indeed, varied. I see the summer as a time to catch up on all the pleasure reading that I wasn't able to do over the course of the school year. In July, I averaged a book a day.

Here's an overview of some of the highlights from my summer reading.


Book cover of a girl holding a butterfly Madapple by Christina Meldrum

I read this during Commencement, so I count it as the first book of the summer. It centered around a trial, the weird relationships between a very insular family, and a lot of science stuff. I enjoyed it a lot, though I think it would have benefited from being longer.

Book cover of a man and a woman sternly looking at the camera  Lies by Michael Grant


This is by the husband of K. A. Applegate, author of Animorphs. He also played a large part in writing the Animorphs books, and of course we also all know how I feel about Animorphs. This is the third in a recent series of weighty young adult novels that are a cross between Lord of the Flies and X-Men.

Book cover of a girls legs with a flower in between her toes Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings, Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty


Collectively, these books are known as the Jessica Darling series. When I think of them, I think of the young adult books that I used to read in high school that connected so closely to my life. Except that the majority of these books are about a girl in college. It's like these books were written just for me.

Book cover of a dragon And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer


Yes, the next in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding this book, but I honestly enjoyed it. The trick in doing so lies in separating it in your mind from the original series.

Book cover of a medieval painting Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, translated by James E. Falen


This was lent to me by one of my Asia House friends, and I loved it. First of all, it rhymed. Second of all, it was hilarious. Third of all, it was depressing.

Book cover of the title etched into a chalkboard Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi


This was a dystopian novel in a world that can no longer depend on oil. Bacigalupi did a very good job of taking the current situation and speculating out into the future how things will go. This book also has a story associated with it: I was reading it while I waited for a bus to come take me home, and a woman came by and wanted to know what I was reading. We proceeded to have a conversation in a weird mix of English and Spanish about it. It was a good day.

A colorful book cover The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw


I have something of an obsession with the Pacific part of World War II, and in particular with what happened in what's now Malaysia. Therefore, I had high hopes for this book. In the end, though, I didn't find it that great, and there was one bit of backstory that I was never able to believe. But sometimes that happens.

A book cover with a man and a woman kissing The Blazing Air by Oswald Wynd


The second novel about World War II that I read, and the one that I enjoyed the most. It was told from the point of view of the British, which was an interesting twist on the story, and it used alternating viewpoints to its advantage, which was very nice to see.

A book cover with a stone etched wall The Gospel of Judas edited by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst


This book helped to start a new obsession of mine: the formation of the early Christian church. It did this mainly because I couldn't understand anything that happened in it, which meant that I needed to get some historical context. So I started doing research. But to understand the Gnostics, you have to understand how they formed in the first place. And to understand that you have to understand the whole history of Judaism. It's going to take a while before I understand all that.

A book cover of a boy wearing a scuba suit under water Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer


I will tell you this right now: I love the Artemis Fowl series. It's funny, it has great characters, and the plot hasn't gotten old yet. However, this book wasn't my favorite in the series, possibly because I can feel the whole thing drawing to a close, and that's sad.

A book cover of a bird flying over its shadow The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis, translated by P. A. Bien


This is what I'm currently reading. Books in translation always concern me a little bit, because I'm never sure if what I'm getting is exactly how the author intended it. But overall I like this one so far. We'll see where it goes.


Responses to this Entry

Just wondering--are you on Goodreads? It's a book-review site...sounds like the kind of thing you might be interested in.

Posted by: Tess on August 26, 2010 11:47 AM

I am! Right here, if you want to add me.

Posted by: Zoë on August 27, 2010 10:33 AM

You know Paolo Bacigalupi went to Oberlin, right?

Posted by: Jeff Hagan on September 10, 2010 10:44 AM

I did not. That's awesome!

Posted by: Zoë on September 10, 2010 10:54 AM

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