Saturday, August 22, 2009

Odd books for curious readers

I've discovered that I probably shouldn't suggest books for my Tuesday night book club anymore. Or maybe I should be a little more selective. The typical reaction to some of the books I choose is, "This book was really weird." I can't help but smile at that because on one hand, I don't mind. For me, weird stuff is good stuff. On the other hand, a comment said in that way usually means the reader did not enjoy the book.

When it comes down to it, that's okay. We all like different subjects, genres, and styles. The world would be pretty boring if we all liked the same thing.

So, for those of you who are curious about the weird books I enjoy reading and for my fellow weirdos who want to catch up on titles they may have missed, here is a list of some of my favorite oddball reads that you can find at the Arlington Public Library. If you read one of these books and really do think it was weird (whether you liked it or not), send me an email! I'd love to hear from you.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
The Binewski's traveling carnival is about to go under, so Aloysious and Lillian Binewski set out to give birth to a family of freaks in order to bring more gawkers and money to their business. Their plan works and ends up producing: Arturo, deemed the Aquaboy because of his flipper-like limbs, conjoined twins Iphy and Elly, albino hunchbacked dwarf Oly, and seemingly normal (but far from it) Chick.

Told from Oly's point of view, this book will make you question what normal really is.

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno
Billy Argo, with the help of his sister and best friend, solves mysteries in his town and becomes something of a celebrity. After Billy goes off to college, his sister commits suicide and Billy, not able to handle it, is placed in a mental institution. When Billy is released from the institution at age 30, he sets out to prove that his sister did not commit suicide. He befriends two children, who need his help with another mystery, and discovers many strange things about his town.

Throughout the book are clues at the bottom of every few pages and a decoder ring at the back so that the reader can solve a mystery on their own.

Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link
Kelly link is one of those writers you can't really pigeonhole. She writes a bit of everything, and most of it is strange and sometimes even beautiful.

This collection of short stories focuses on a blending of supernatural with reality. In "The Faery Handbag", an entire village escapes to the safety of a handbag. "Some Zombie Contingency Plans" follows a young man, obsessed with always having an escape plan just in case zombies attack, who is recently released from prison and crashes a house party. A reader on describes "The Hortlak" as ". . .Clerks meets Shaun of the Dead."

Trumpet by Jackie Kay
Joss Moody was a brilliant trumpeter, celebrated by everyone in the jazz world. But when he dies, Joss's wife Millie realizes that the secret they've kept their entire marriage is about to be revealed to the entire world.

What's worse is the effect this secret has on their son, Coleman, who was also kept in the dark.

Scottish author Jackie Kay re-evaluates identity of self and others, love and devotion, loyalty, and forgiveness.

A Red Heart of Memories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Matilda "Matt" Black can communicate with any object and see into other people's dreams. Matt is homeless and trusts no one but the objects with which she communicates. But then she meets Edmund, who emerges from a months-long stay in a crumbling, ivy-covered wall, and she begins to trust someone for the first time ever. Matt sets out with Edmund, a witch, on a quest to help others in need. Their journey takes them to Edmund's sister and her family, where extraordinary things happen, and to Edmund's childhood friend Susan, who has closed herself off from everyone.

Hoffman's work is always surreal reality that is somehow comforting to read. People hurt, but they also find unusual ways to begin healing.


Dianne said...

Ok, so Geek Love IS weird but I liked it. Actually I consider it more than weird. I think it's more like Bizarre!
I have also read A Red Heart of Memories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I do not consider it weird (what does that say about me?)....I am now reading my way through everything Nina Kiriki Hoffman has written.

Amy said...

I think it says that you are especially bizarre yourself. =)