Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
Atwood's writing is as strong as ever in this collection of short stories, but I think maybe I overdosed on reading her this year. I recognized a lot of recycled characters and motifs from her other contemporary (ie: not period piece) novels. The repetitiveness of her feminist themes also kind of serves to make her writing seem a bit one dimensional in this collection. It seems like, no matter what point of view these stories are told from, or what scenarios she fleshes out, women are powerful and men are incompetent idiots who need women to survive. Her best stories in this collection are actually the ones with no male characters, I particularly "Death by Landscape". It's not that the writing is bad, it's just entirely too similar to her lesser known contemporary books (BUT maybe it's just me being sick of her!).
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
After "Wilderness Tips" this books read like Atwood with teeth. Things that were mentioned briefly in the other book are bared naked and ugly here, with all the gory details. This novel keeps you turning pages and wanting to know what happens next to the struggling heroine Dolores Price. And hey, who doesn't like a coming of age story that takes place in a psych ward? The narration is so innately feminine, it's almost impossible to believe that it was written by a man.
You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
Not to be confused with the other 60's Tom Wolfe who wrote "Bonfire of the Vanities." This was the last novel of the depression era virtuoso who died at just 37. The book focuses on the time surrounding the great market crash, and paints an intimate picture of Americans before and after their financial fall from grace. The writing style is very flowery and uses a lot of anaphora (seriously, this guy is like the anaphora king). There are lots of awesome character sketches, and the scenes of financial build-up/ruin are eerily similar to the happenings of our modern recession. It's a great books to read if you want to realize how much history repeats itself. There is a fair bit of pontification on the meaning of life though, which can be a bit dull. Solid book though.
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
After slogging through Wolfe's philosophical reverie on life, it was nice to read something a little lighter. Like all Terry Pratchett books, this one has plenty of humor, science and magic. It tells the story of a young girl who wants to break the gender taboo and be the first female wizard at Unseen University. If you've never read anything by this prolific sci-fi icon, you should do yourself a favor and do it already. This particular book is quite short/quick. I read it in 2 days!
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Paul got me the first two books in this graphic-novel series for Christmas. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of them! The art is cool, and it's a neat mix of harsh reality and subtle quantum magic. The characters are strong and the humor is really right on. I can see why you'd want to make this into a movie. However, from the first book alone, I do not think that Michael Cera would make sense as Scott Pilgrim. Having not seen the film or read any of the other books though, I am ready to be proved wrong.