Minnesota has become Narnia.
And I don’t mean a magical land/Christian allegory accessible through a wardrobe with fauns and castles and a witch. Well, maybe we do have a witch. That witch is winter.
It’s always winter but never Christmas, but instead of Christmas we beleaguered Minnesotans just want some 60-degree weather, a few sunny days, and a boatload of rain to melt all our dang snow.
We want Aslan to bring spring. Or actually, we want meteorologist Sven Sundgaard (can we have a more Scandinavian meteorologist?) to bring us a favorable forecast for the next few months.
Since I don’t really want to set foot outdoors unless necessary—it’s 35 degrees, and I’m thoroughly sick of snow—I’ve adopted an excellent form of escapism. I’ve been reading a lot, and I’m going to tell you about a few of my recent favorites.
For all of the English majors still in school who may be skimming this blog (at lightspeed because they still have half of Billy Budd to read), I’ll highlight two books which are lighter reads and thus are great picks for finals week books (I once read I Am Charlotte Simmons during finals week, which was an awful finals week book, so I know the importance of a finding a good, worthwhile diversion), for lazy Saturday mornings, for spring break, or for whenever you dig yourself out of the stack of books you’re probably going to buy at the Festival of Faith and Writing.
The first is a YA read. If you’ve put your head under a rock for the past decade or so, or only read something that’s a Norton Critical Edition, you may not know that YA is a hot genre. (As is NA—new adult—but that’s up for debate, I think partially because the acronym reminds everyone of n/a–not applicable.) My YA pick is Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick.
Rudnick, a playwright, novelist, essayist, and generally serious writer, did what Meg Cabot should have done in her countless novels about people saving presidents, people turning into supermodels, and people discovering that they’re princesses. He wrote a witty, sarcastic, and entrancing book about a recent high school grad who’s offered the chance of a lifetime: to be the most beautiful woman in all the world.
It takes a chapter or two to get used to Becky’s rambling voice, but once I was hooked, I was hooked. Rather than having his protagonist complain about how hard it is to be a celebrity, Rudnick plays around with the idea of being beautiful and famous and responsibilities that come with it. It’s still definitely light reading, but it’s smart light reading.
If Gorgeous sounds disgustingly awful, try Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, which I’m guessing everyone read last year anyway. But, if you haven’t and you’re a fan of Arrested Development, pick it up—the author was a writer on the show.
Fifteen-year-old Bee plans a family trip to Alaska, but then her mother, who used to be a famous architect, disappears. Basically, the plot’s a little too complicated to be described well in a sentence. You’ll have a ball reading hilarious (and often ludicrous) emails, faxes, letters, and police reports, and trying to figure out which characters are actually crazy and which ones have it together. Spoiler alert: Most of them are nuts. At least somewhat. But isn’t that life?
Now I’ve got to go pick up Amsterdam (a fascinating history of the city) or The Prince of Shadows (a retelling of Romeo and Juliet from Benvolio’s perspective) before I look out a window and remember that I should wear Doc Martens, and not Converse, tomorrow.
Libby Stille (’13) lives in St. Paul and works in the marketing department of a children’s publishing company in downtown Minneapolis. She recommends that everyone visit the Twin Cities, but only between June and October, unless you enjoy subzero windchills and slipping on ice.