What I’m Reading: March 2022

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to books, it appears that my eyes are bigger than my stomach (or rather, my library bag is bigger than my schedule). What I’m trying to say is that I tend to check out way more books than I can ever be reasonably expected to read. And I’m starting to think that “What I’m Reading” should be re-titled “What I Want to Read”. What do you all think?

Regardless, here are a few of the books that I totally intend to read this month. Whether or not I actually have the time is up for debate. Perhaps you’ll have time to check them out yourself?

I love classic stories and I love ghost stories. So, it comes as a major shock to me that I have not read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow yet, considering that it’s a classic ghost story. As a child, I watched the Disney adaptation, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, which featured the stunning vocal talents of Bing Crosby (although I was too young to know or care who that was at the time). But, I was recently listening to one of the songs on YouTube, and enjoyed it so much that I thought I would finally give the book a go. I’m especially looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one. When Ichabod Crane moves to Tarry Town to be the new school teacher, things start off swimmingly, and the townsfolk really appear to like him. But, he attracts the unwelcome enmity of Bram Bones, one of the locals who fears that Crane is going to ruin his chances of wooing the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel. The town itself is steeped in legends and a thick miasma of fear surrounding ghosts and ghouls and other creatures that go bump in the night, but the most famous legend, depicting the fate of a Hessian solider who was beheaded by a cannonball, might prove to be more than just a legend, when the Headless Horseman rides again.

The American Short Story is anything but a short book. I have this monstrosity sitting on the desk next to me as I type this, and it’s just over 1,000 pages. 1,003, to be precise. That’s a huge book. And the whole reason I picked it up was because I wanted to read one of my all-time favorite short stories– “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (which is included in this collection). One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I had this huge book checked out. Now, don’t let the size intimidate you. There are some excellent stories in here (of a much more manageable length) and since each tale is stand-alone, you can enjoy them one at a time, or binge half the book in one sitting. You could even just sample a couple and leave it at that. It’s nice to have options. And speaking of options, here is just a quick sampling of some of the amazing authors included in this collection: Ray Bradbury, John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Jack London, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Shirley Jackson, and more!

Juneau Black’s mystery novel, Shady Hollow is the first in an innovative new series. What makes it so appealing and special (apart form the beautiful cover, for starters), is that all the characters are animals. Anthropomorphic animals dressed up in clothes, going about their day just like people (think of The Wind in the Willows or something like that). In this tale, the murder victim is a curmudgeonly toad. And Vera Vixen, a reporter (and fox) with a nose for news catches wind of the death and decides that it might be a murder. Vera might be new in Shadow Hollow, but she’s determined to get to the bottom of the case, uncovering some buried secrets in the process. And it looks like there’s someone in Shady Hollow who would very much like to keep Vera silent. Will she be able to crack the case before someone else gets killed?

Time for a kids’ book! Mina is a mouse and lives with her eccentric father, who has a habit if bringing home all manner of strange things, from stick insects to bands, to tin cans that magnify your voice. But, when he brings home a squirrel, the pair is in for quite the surprise. Because, while the creature crammed into their living room certainly fits the description of a squirrel– “Squirrels are bigger than mice and have long bushy tails!”–Mina is convinced that it’s a cat. Of course, her father is quick to reassure her, but Mina is convinced that something is not right. Will Mina’s father be able to soothe her fears? Or is she correct and they’re sharing their burrow with a creature that would love nothing more than to eat them for a delicious, squeaking snack? I sort of tricked you on this one, as it’s not something I want to read, as its something I’ve already read. But, it’s a really cute book with adorable illustrations, and of course, a happy ending.

Keeping up with what appears to be a theme of talking animals books, we next have The Council of Animals. This tale takes place in an a post-apocalyptic future, where humanity has managed to (nearly) destroy itself. A few humans still remain, clustered in small tribes, struggling to survive. The animals, however, have taken back the earth, and now a small council meets to determine a course of action that could change everything forever. What is to be done with the remaining humans? Some of the animals remember a time when they lived side by side with humanity, sharing their shelter and food and company. Others have had less than desirable interactions and are concerned that if the humans are helped and allowed to grow back to their former glory, they will only lead the planet down a twisted path of destruction once again. So, it all comes down to a final choice: do they help the remaining humans, or do they eat them and end the threat once and for all? You (and I) will have to read this to find out.

Not gonna lie…I’ve read this book at least twice already, and I loved it so much that I keep coming back. Hello Tokyo is part art book, part travelogue, part crafting how-to, and part love letter to Japanese culture. As an otaku who loves papercraft, this is the perfect read for me, which is why I’m reading it a third time. Ebony Bizys shares a whole host of beautiful ideas to bring a spark of modern Japanese culture to your home. And no, it’s not all about manga, sushi, and samurai. The ideas in this book focus on bright colors and fun aesthetics. Ebony’s sense of style is super-charming and the delightful photos and crafts only add to the fun. Whether you want to learn about life as a foreigner in Tokyo, how to brighten up your home, or some fun crafting ideas, this book is a must-read. It’s one of my absolute favorites and the only one I’ve read that’s specifically like this.

Let’s continue on with another book from Japan. Hideo Kojima’s The Creative Gene is a love-letter to storytelling by one of the greatest storytellers I know. I first “discovered” Hideo Kojima when my brother introduced me to the Metal Gear series. I spent hours watching him play Metal Gear Solid, and even though the graphic were somewhat blocky and the characters didn’t exactly have faces, there was something so striking about the storytelling that you really didn’t notice. Instead, you were swept away by an amazing story. I recently finished watching Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and I was a sobbing mess by the end of it. It was amazing. Anyone who says that video games are not a valid storytelling media has clearly not played a Kojima game. The depth of the characters, the tense situations, the action, the emotion…it’s all there and it’s all amazing. When I learned that Kojima wrote a book, well….I had to get my hands on it. Here, the master storyteller shares some of the works that inspired him as a writer. Whether you’re a fan of his work or just someone who loves a good story, The Creative Gene might be just what you’re looking for!

Erin

I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.