The 5th Annual Aaron Book Awards

31 12 2016

Has it already been half a decade since I’ve been doing this?! Wowzers.

Like the Academy Awards, I’ve changed some of the rules and categories this year. I’ve cut the category of Best Non-Fiction Book because it was too difficult to compare, say, a book about the history of Vancouver, to a book on exercise.

Although Classic has been a category for the past couple years, I’ve added all the titles with the rest of the fiction books (or plays if I elected to read a Shakespeare play as a Classic). This year, I’m going to put them in their own category.

Also, I decided a book is only eligible for the category that I had chosen it for. So for example, Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, is both a Children’s Book as well as a Graphic Novel. In past years, I allowed books to be entered in multiple genres if they were multi-genre works, but decided that this was unfair to other books that were, say, simply novels. In addition, some categories had more nominees than others. So Sisters will only be in the running for Best Graphic Novel since that is the category for which I had chosen it.

With that out of the way, let’s start the show!

Total number of books read in 2016: 42 (a new record! Although some books I didn’t actually read all the way through, so maybe not)

Best Fiction Book/Novel

Winner: Sharp Teeth — Toby Barlow

I feel like I should pick Roadside Picnic because it is considered to be an important work in the sci-fi genre, and yes, it is an intriguing story, but I still have to go with Sharp Teeth because it hooked me right off the bat and was one of the most visceral books I’ve ever read, not to mention the experimental way its written is pretty damn awesome.

Nominees:

Sharp Teeth — Toby Barlow
One Man’s Trash — Ivan E. Coyote
Roadside Picnic — Arkadiĭ and Boris Strugat͡skiĭ
The Slow Fix — Ivan E. Coyote

Best Memoir

Winner: The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls

A very well-written memoir about a family. Not much else to say except that everyone should read it.

Nominees:

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) — Jenny Lawson
Humans of New York — Brandon Stanton
Paper Shadows — Wayson Choy
Deep Too — Stan Dragland
The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls

Best Play

Winner: Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett

I said it in my review for the book, and I’ll say it again. Man, this was a depressing play about feeling stagnant and stuck. I didn’t think I’d be able to relate so much to an absurdist play like this.

Nominees:

Death of a Salesman — Arthur Miller
The Laramie Project — Moisés Kaufman
The Glass Menagerie — Tennessee Williams
Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett
Othello — William Shakespeare

Best Children’s Book

Winner: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — J.K. Rowling

I had no idea all I read this year was Harry Potter. Jeez. Honestly, it’s difficult to pick one of the HP books (Up and Down, although cute, just can’t compete with books about kids dying), I ultimately picked The Goblet of Fire because it was a turning point in the series for me. The first three books laid the foundation for the series, and near the end of Goblet of Fire, there was a sense that the stakes had been raised quite dramatically with the genuinely shocking death of Cedric Diggory. More horrified I was that Cedric’s death happened in front of a freakin’ teenager who was bound to be traumatized after. Goblet of Fire was the book that finally stepped into mature themes, creating foreboding that permeated throughout the rest of the series. No one was safe anymore.

Nominees:

Up and Down — Oliver Jeffers
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — J.K. Rowling

Best Gay/Queer Book

Winner: The Riddle of the Sands — Geoffrey Knight

Yeah, it’s campy, sexy fun, but I gotta say, it’s well-paced and there’s more (and better) plot than all of the Bourne movies. Plus the sexy guys having gay sex. Woot.

Nominees:

The Hardest Thing — James Lear
Strip — Andrew Binks
The Riddle of the Sands — Geoffrey Knight
The Cross of Sins — Geoffrey Knight

Best Graphic Novel

Winner: The Arrival — Shaun Tan

Extra props for being able to create different atmospheres using only pictures. Truly awesome. As in leaves me in awe.

Nominees:

Adrian and the Tree of Secrets — Hubert
The Shadow Hero — Gene Luen Yang
Bone, Vol. 1 — Jeff Smith
The Arrival — Shaun Tan
Angel Catbird, Vol. 1 — Margaret Atwood
Sisters — Raina Telgemeier

Best YA Novel

Winner: Ghost World — Daniel Clowes

Although none of the nominees really blew me away, at least Ghost World‘s crushing ending was nice.

Nominees:

Ghost World — Daniel Clowes
Gone, Gone, Gone — Hannah Moskowitz
Way to Go — Tom Ryan
You Know Me Well — David Levithan and Nina LaCour
Whatever. — S.J. Goslee

Best Classic Book

Winner: The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

The Kite Runner — Khaled Hosseini
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — Robert Louis Stevenson
Memoirs of a Geisha — Arthur GoldenThe Legacy/A Town Called Alice — Nevil Shute
The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

Best Book of 2016

Nominees:

Sharp Teeth — Toby Barlow
The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls
Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — J.K. Rowling
The Riddle of the Sands — Geoffrey Knight
The Arrival — Shaun Tan
Ghost World — Daniel Clowes
The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

Winner: Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett

This was the most difficult pick I’ve made since I started compiling these lists. Even I’m not sure I chose the “best” one, since all these books were great in their own different ways. I do think that Waiting for Godot managed to convey so many themes in such subtle ways, and of course it was depressing as hell, which I’m always a sucker for.

Congrats to all the winners! What will I read next year?

waiting-for-godot

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Whatever

5 10 2016

I really wanted to like this book.

As a fan of gay-themed YA fiction, this sounded like another hit. Unfortunately, there are too many characters, most of whom are half-fleshed out and at times feel extraneous. But the real issue I have about this book is the depiction of the main character; I like that Mike isn’t a stereotype but at the same time, his character isn’t much of anything. He’s overdramatic and constantly whines that his life suuucks beyond all comprehension and although teenagers are bound to think like this, Mike doesn’t feel authentic, but rather someone’s idea of an adolescent male. Mike’s belief that his life is the worst when figuring out his sexuality could at least be understood and empathized if the stakes were high, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Being gay doesn’t appear to be a big deal for Mike and his schoolmates so his thoughts come off as childish and unfounded rather than authentic.

The writing style also takes some getting used to as well, and I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. Whatever doesn’t add anything to the plethora of ideas of what it means to be queer for young people these days. There are better gay teen novels out there.

Also, this is me trying to be like a too-cool-for-school teen with bright colours. I don’t think it worked. But the colours are bright!

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You Know Me Well

3 09 2016

I’ll always read David Levithan’s books, even if they’re just okay, like this one. I don’t really have much to say about it except that I liked his previous collaborations with John Green and Rachel Cohn better.

Also, my cat knows me well.

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Way to Go

20 07 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve read an eBook because I prefer reading print. I also don’t remember signing them out to be so difficult– I couldn’t download the epub file do I tried to download it as a PDF but it wouldn’t let me change the download format so the only option was reading it in Chrome, which wasn’t bad once figured out how to save the book so that I could read it offline since if you’re reading it a browser you must be connected to the Internet. Ugh.

Anyway. So the book itself was alright. I like that it was set in Cape Breton, which I was semi-close to while in Nova Scotia last month. I also kinda liked that the conflict wasn’t about a love interest but rather the protagonist’s internal struggle to come to terms with his sexuality. A quick, decent read.

I can’t help but despise my hair in all these pictures.

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Gone, gone, gone

13 05 2016

An interesting look at the budding romantic relationship of two eccentric boys against the backdrop of the anniversary of 9/11 and the Belgate 2002 shootings. The premise is certainly interesting, and the writing is engaging up to a certain point, at which the style gets repetitive and the story flounders, not knowing where to go. While the relationship and romance is unconventionally approached, the novel’s anti-climatic ending leaves the impression that this wasn’t as thought out as it should have been.

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Another Day

1 12 2015

I will always be a fan of Mr. Leviathan, even when he writes interesting but unnecessary books like this one. While I absolutely loved Every Day, this one fell short of my expectations. Sure, we get another side of the same story, but in the end, meh. I actually found parts of this to be kind of… Tedious. And cue the firing squad as I’m shot my everyone! Ahhhh…

On the upside, I get to show off my new long johns… And a special guest!

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How I Live Now

8 09 2015

Here’s a smirk for you.

Also this book was meh. I did quite enjoy the style though. It felt very authentic to how a teenager would speak. Big props for that. Also also, Ding made me very sad. I like goats.

I almost forgot to flip the picture but then I realized it says “evil won” which is a little creepy. So I’m keeping it like that. Creeeeeepy.
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