Let's Talk About Those xoJaneBookClub Books

Minor spoilers may abound! But also the new book has been chosen!

The problem I have with this time of year is how quickly it passes -- I have all these plans, I have a schedule, but then boom. Two weeks have gone by and I'm running behind. Which is to say I didn't forget the xoJaneBookClub so much as how is it even this late in December already?

Last month we read two short and easy titles: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children and its sequel, Hollow City. I read them both on a Kindle ereader, and thoroughly enjoyed the images, so they were a good test of the quality of that tech if absolutely nothing else.

Fortunately, that isn't all I got out of reading them -- because I found them to be absolutely great road reading: interesting, with moments of real heart, but without requiring the kind of work that would take energy I just didn't have. Amusingly, these books seem to inspire serious love/hate from readers; I think that's because some adults read YA with skewed expectations.

I love YA -- but I also don't expect it to be structured and delivered the same way as fiction written for an adult audience. I mean, THANK GOODNESS for the differences there. If the two categories were the same, I'd be so sad.

That's a much longer article though, and involves a whole discussion about why I think cruelty masquerades as humor in much of current American literature for grownups and, well, it's the weekend. Let's move on.

Here's my basic review: Reading both of these one after the other was a really good idea because the second book fills in and supports some of the things about the first book that needed propping up. I found the characters likable but not entirely true to age -- it felt younger than 16 to me so when the romance subplot started cropping up I had to remind myself about the main character's stated age.

The rush of the ending of the first book led well into the slightly slow start of the second book. Maybe once the third book is published, these will all be compiled into a complete edition and then the pacing will probably be vastly improved.

Now! I am super interest in what all of you thought. Let's discuss in the comments.

It's also time for the next book -- and because it's the closing of the year, when everyone is coming out with their Best of lists (Goodreads, I'm looking at you), I thought we'd go a slightly different direction.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014

If you aren't familiar with the Best American series, that is a dang shame. Every year, editors choose the best writing across a variety of genres and put it together into these anthologies. The Best American Short Stories is probably the most popular but my favorite is The Best American Science And Nature Writing because good science writing is a thing of beauty and there is so much bad science writing.

My other favorite? The Best American Nonrequired Reading. For 2014's version, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) has worked with students from hundreds of writing labs to put together a collection of poetry and fiction and nonfiction. There's a podcast transcript and there's graphic novel stuff, too. It's a pretty eclectic collection every year and this edition promises more of the same.

There's no Kirkus review for this one yet, and Goodreads is using the summary from Bust. I am stoked to read it -- but if you want to tackle one of the other Best American books, I'd love to hear about that when we come together for more discussion and it'll probably influence which one of the series I next pick up.