Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best Read of 2012--I'm calling it now.

Isn't this a little premature?  Calling the best read of 2012 on January 1st?

Yeah, maybe in a different year.  And don't get me wrong, I am super-excited about the rest of my TBRs, and all the awesome books coming out this year...but.

I just finished The Scorpio Races.  

Friends, listen.  I may read books that are just as good, and I will certainly read books that I recommend to my students more widely, because I know their tastes pretty well and this isn't for all of them.  But I will bet my last November cake that I will not read another book this year that I love more than The Scorpio Races.

Books that have affected me this profoundly in recent memory:

--Looking For Alaska shocked and destroyed me in a way that I forgot a book could do.  Even Mockingjay...I went into with an understanding of some potential hazards.   But Looking For Alaska was a true sucker-punch to the gut and I loved that it could do that to me.  Scorpio Races made me feel as much, but with a feather-light touch that I didn't completely realize until I closed the book.

--The Hunger Games trilogy is simply the most exciting thing I have ever read.  The first book is the only one I have ever read twice in a row--like, immediately going back to page one.  I don't do that, ever.  And I'm not with The Scorpio Races, because I don't need to.  Where The Hunger Games shot through me, The Scorpio Races settled into my bones.  I started to dream Thisby.  It was too real to be exciting, per se...and I read it much more slowly because I couldn't rush it. 

--I am mostly reminded of how I felt in January of 2006, when I read both The Time Traveler's Wife and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series for the first time.  My now-husband, then-boyfriend, had graduated from college the previous June and we were separated by a five-hour bus ride, except that I found a January-term project that put me in New York City with him for a few weeks in the middle of the year.  Somehow, I spent the whole month reading these devastatingly beautiful books that deal with, among other things, enforced separation from the love of your life.  In related news, I spent a lot of time unexpectedly crying over books on public transit.  Those books were the last time I felt a book hook straight into that space in my gut, just below my heart, and yank until I was well and truly stuck.  That's what The Scorpio Races has done, but for entirely different reasons.

I got lured in by the horses.  That's what did it first.  I had forgotten, after so many years, what it was like to read a horse book.  Most of them are written for kids, y'know?  Or they're kind of schlocky.  Or both.  But as a kid I found the good ones and I loved them hard...and then there weren't any more, I guess.  The Scorpio Races is a first-rate horse book for older folks, teenagers and adults.  Honestly, though, by the end of the book...I think I would read it and love it if it were about racing lawnmowers.  Puck and Sean are such magnificent characters, and Thisby such an immersive, textured setting, and the people there have lives out of frame (there are ten more books in that island, that we get glimpses of but never see in their entirety--the Malverns, Annie, George Holly)...I could stay there forever. 

So tomorrow, I bake November Cakes.  Because it's not enough that Maggie Stiefvater can write this brilliantly--she's also invented a food and made it real.  I'm sort of out of my mind with glee, and while I've spent a good two hours since finishing the book going through her blog, my favorite thing has to be this recipe for November Cakes.  That she made it real, that she revised her own recipe, and that even when writing a recipe, she sounds so distinctly like her own self, makes this basically the epitome of everything I admire about her.  I am so happy to have finished this book with a day off to celebrate it and bake these cakes. 


  1. I had been reading THE SCORPIO RACES for Tracey Neithercott's Fall Book Club, but at the time I was struggling to stick with it. I read about halfway through before giving up. I do plan on returning to it, I'm just not sure when. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. The fact that SO many people loved it is making me think I should hurry back to it. But it's kind of like writing in that you just can't force it or you'll ruin the experience, you know?

  2. Yeah, totally. And like I said--I'm not necessarily saying it's the best book for everyone--it hit a lot of notes for me in particular (even little things, like reminding me of a play my HS did called Dancing at Lughnasa that was about siblings and a festival in a tiny Irish town...) that it might not for other people. That said, the writing is still great so enjoy it when you're in the mood :)

  3. This book is on my winter TBR list, and your post makes me look forward to it even more. Also, I love the name of your blog. :)

  4. Auugggh, so many people love The Scorpio Races that I wanted to love it, too. But I've tried twice now and been unable to finish it. Glad it resonated with you, though!

  5. Caryl--thanks :) I usually really struggle with titles but this felt so obvious to me, because it is entirely on-the-nose :)

    Abby--I totally get it. I don't know that I would have gotten nearly as invested if I wasn't such a horse maniac as a kid. It's so frustrating when that happens, though--everyone loves something, and you just can't make it happen for yourself. I've definitely been there (Weetzie Bat! I finished it, for a class on YA lit in grad school, but even at like 80 pages or whatever, it took me a week. But my kiddos like it, so it stays on the shelf...)


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