Hey there–Kazia here!
As a graduate student studying children’s literature, I really never lack something to read. On my easiest week in my program, I’ve had just one novel to read (although it certainly wasn’t easy), and on my toughest weeks, I’ve had six. Over winter break, there were 22 novels I was supposed to read before the semester started. So it’s quite the guilty pleasure for me to avoid doing my homework by squeezing out time to (*gasp*) read something off the syllabus! The absurd number of snow days we’ve had in North East have provided good excuses to avoid my homework and catch up on some fun reading. So, since mid-January, here’s what I’ve been reading when I should have been doing homework:
Last semester, I became really interested in the role of women in science fiction and steampunk texts that examine some aspect of Darwinism, degeneration, and (male) scientists meddling with nature, so as soon as I had a spare moment I picked up The Island of Doctor Moreau. Wells’s petite 1896 novel follows a shipwrecked Edward Prendick as he is taken to a secluded island run by Doctor Moreau, a notorious “scientist” who vivisects animals to create human-like creatures (which, by the way, was an idea that Wells liked toying with). Thoroughly creepy and mildly nauseating, it’s a quick and thought-provoking read!
My fascination with Moreau led me to tear through The Madman’s Daughter, the first book in Megan Shepherd’s YA series starring Juliet Moreau, the daughter of the notorious Doctor. A prequel to Wells’s story, the book follows Juliet as she deals with the repercussions of the scandal caused by her (now absent) father’s rumored experiments. Destitute and desperate, she decides to journey to her father to learn if the rumors circling around English society are true. There’s a delicious love triangle (which, surprisingly, works), a super gothic aesthetic, a plausibly feisty and complex protagonist, surprising plot twists, and lots of big questions about humanity and ethics. There are two more books in the series (based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein, respectively), and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to pick them up.
Veering slightly away from this theme but without straying too far, I’ve been reading Marvel’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (I’ve read the first volume and have the next two sitting in my TBR pile). While visiting his uncle, tween Miles Morales is bitten by a thoroughly horrendous radioactive spider (courtesy of–surprise!–Norman Osborn). While attempting to adjust to life at a new charter school, he simultaneously attempts to adjust to his new powers and, after Peter Parker’s death, he decides to take up the mantle of Spider-Man. Miles is a thoroughly compelling character, both as Spider-Man and his regular teenage self, and I’m looking forward to making my way through the rest of his story. (And keep your fingers crossed for Miles to be the new Spider-Man in the MCU!)
In keeping with the speech bubbles of comics, my other (not)guilty pleasure is Mo Willems’s Elephant & Piggie series of easy readers. I read I Will Surprise My Friend! for one of my classes this semester, and now I can’t stop reading this completely adorable and heartwarming series (I mean, this almost counts as homework, right?). I’ve heard many a person claim that Mo Willems (of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fame) is “the Dr. Seuss of this generation,”
and although I was previously unwilling to consider that claim, I’m now pretty much on board. His books are smart, deceptively simple, charming, and funny, and perfect for anyone (of any age) looking for some cheer. I’m particularly partial to Waiting Is Not Easy, My Friend is Sad, and We Are In A Book!
Happy reading (and procrastinating)!