RTW: Book of the Month for June, 2012

It’s that time again on Road Trip Wednesday: Best Book of June! Every month, usually on the last Wednesday of the month, the YA Highway team dedicate the weekly Road Trip Wednesday meme to the subject of our favorite read of that month. This is the time when our TBR lists groan with the added book recommendations, but our hearts delight at discovering new literary treasures.

As has become customary for me, I have a “shout out” book of the month as well as top pick. This month’s “shout out” book is NUMB by Sean Ferrell. I just finished reading this, and I must say it was a very thought-provoking as well as entertaining read. I reviewed it on Goodreads, so you can see my discussion of it there. Briefly, the book is about a man who has no memory of his life prior to wandering into a circus in North Texas. Furthermore, he is completely numb: he can’t feel pain. Since he doesn’t know his real name, he goes by the name “Numb.” His affliction becomes his livelihood, both within the circus, and when he leaves for New York, where he becomes a media attraction. It’s an interesting story, driven by Numb’s quest to find out who he is and why he can’t feel pain. As I said, you can read my review (along with others) at Goodreads. It’s not a book for the squeamish, but one I would recommend, both for the intriguing premise, and for Sean’s writing (which is excellent).

Now to my pick of the month: THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. A few weeks ago, I posted a Top Ten Tuesday listing ten books you’ve probably read that I haven’t. This was one of them. It’s classic YA, so really I should have read it. But I hadn’t. So this month I did something about that, and read it. Wow, am I glad I did. Again, I reviewed it on Goodreads (as you can see, I review most of the books I read on Goodreads), but I will say here that for a relatively short novel, it packs a lot of punch. It’s a dystopian novel, but I wouldn’t have thought so for most of the story if I hadn’t been told. The world building is subtle, mainly through showing, not so much by exposition. It’s beautifully written, even though it’s dealing with some dark ideas. Definitely a whole-hearted recommendation from me.

How was your June reading? What was your favorite read? You can share here, or join the YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday fun over at their blog.

And don’t forget my Blog Birthday Giveaway! Only a few days left to enter!

42 thoughts on “RTW: Book of the Month for June, 2012

    1. cds Post author

      What a great introduction to dystopian literature! I think my first was DIVERGENT, so I had a similarly great introduction. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Thanks, Viklit! Like I said, THE GIVER is not a long novel, but it has depth and power that its relative brevity betrays. Reading it will be time well spent, not just for the story, but also for what you can learn as a writer from the writing.

      Reply
  1. Kat

    I read The Giver in school and while I remember the important bits I feel I should read it again – I think I would appreciate it much more now! Also, writing more now I think I would see the book differently and notice the excellent technique, like the subtle wordbuilding you pointed out, much more.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Part of me is a little envious at the great books so many people read in school that I didn’t. But on the other hand, as you point out, it’s often not until later, when we’re more mature, and perhaps a little more invested in literary excellence, that we can really appreciate these books for their genius. I recommend giving THE GIVER a re-read. Since you already know the basic story, you can concentrate on Lowry’s style. Worth the time, definitely.

      Reply
  2. Samantha @ Reading-AndCoffee

    This may sound narrow-minded, but I’ve always had a thing against the books they make you read in school. I shouldn’t be, but I am kind of proud of the fact that I only completely read 4 of the books you’re supposed to read in high school, plus my independent study on Anna Karenina, which should have counted as at least 3. I would just rather read a book because I want to, rather than because I was told to do so.

    So, I haven’t read The Giver. However, Numb sounds really intriguing. There is a disease, CIPA, where you cannot feel pain, that has always fascinated me.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I understand what you say about books you’re told to read in school. I was that way with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. We had to read it when I was about 14. I read the first page and boldly declared it to be “a boring book.” My English teacher said that was “a Philistine remark.” A few years ago, I read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD on my own initiative. I was intrigued because so many hailed it as a classic. Also, now that I was pursuing a writing career, I was perhaps a little guilty that I had dismissed it without giving it a fair chance. I was blown away. My English teacher was right. That book is a master class on how to write a novel, and it’s easily (IMO) one of the best novels ever written. Period. So, perhaps you could give THE GIVER another chance? πŸ™‚

      NUMB is a great read. Not for everyone (especially if you don’t like images of people hammering nails into themselves), but so well written. The voice is perfect for Numb.

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    1. cds Post author

      Thanks, Crystal. You’re right: the world Lowry has created is not like any I’ve encountered in my reading so far. And the way she presents it gives the appearance of a well-ordered society, not a dystopian nightmare. It’s not until later in the story that we learn the truth.

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  3. Katie L

    The Giver is one of my favorite books of all times. It’s so quiet…I think that’s been lost in dystopian literature. There’s such a quiet grace which makes the dawning realization that this is not a world we want all the more powerful. Gah. beautiful book. I had no idea until recently that it’s part of a quartet? I’ve never read the others but maybe I will in July.

    I’ve never heard of Numb but I think I’ll add it to my TBR list!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      “There’s such a quiet grace which makes the dawning realization that this is not a world we want all the more powerful.”

      Yes! Well put, Katie. I also saw that it’s part of a series. Mmm. I think I’d want to know more about the other books before I consider reading them. The way THE GIVER ended seemed right; I don’t know where I would take the story after that–or if the story really needed to go anywhere. I’ll wait for your reviews. πŸ™‚

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  4. Jaime

    THE GIVER is sitting on the shelf right behind me, but I haven’t read it yet. I feel like it’s one of those books I should have read given my love of dystopian. I’ll have to make reading it more of a priority now. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Is LEVIATHAN still on that same shelf? πŸ™‚

      If you love dystopian, yeah, you really ought to read this one. It won’t take you long to read, either. Besides, it’s a YA classic, so… no pressure… πŸ˜€

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  5. Rachael

    I read The Giver in middle school as well and loved it. It’s the only book I remember reading in that class and actually enjoying. It was the beginning of my love of dystopians. I quickly found the next two books in the series (Gathering Blue and Messenger) and devoured them as well. I was so excited when I found out there’s going to be a fourth soon!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed it so much in Middle School, Rachael. It’s not often people love the books they read in school. I’m interested to hear that you also enjoyed the following books in the series. As I said to Katie (above), I’m not sure where the story could go after THE GIVER–it seemed to conclude satisfactorily for me–so I’m interested to hear what people thought of them. Thanks for your comment. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Robin Moran

    If it’s dystopian I’ll definitely give that a go. After The Hunger Games and The Divergent Trilogy I’ve discovered how much I like dystopian fiction. And I feel shame for not knowing it, especially if it’s a classic!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Yes, definitely give it a go, Robin. And don’t feel bad about not knowing about it. I only know of it because my oldest read it for a book study. After that I discovered that it’s a classic and lots of people who read/write YA have read and loved it. And it was months after *that* before I actually got round to reading it. So, no need to feel shame! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. Kelli

    “The Giver” is such a wonderful, thought provoking book. Good pick! I hadn’t read it until about 6 months ago and I’m still wondering how I had missed this book for so long.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      “I’m still wondering how I had missed this book for so long.”

      You and me both, Kelli! πŸ™‚

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  8. Laurie Dennison

    The Giver is a great pick! It’s been sooooo many years since I read it. I have to say, I was a little let down by Numb. It was well written, but I just wanted more punch.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      *WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS*

      What I got from NUMB was that it was more than just the name of the MC and a description of his condition. It really pervades his whole persona, which, given that it’s written in 1st person, affects the voice. This might explain the lack of “punch” you hoped for. Throughout the story, I think we see the connection between the external and internal numbness, and this escalates toward the end. I liked that depth to the story–in the end, it really wasn’t about his external lack of feeling. That’s what I got out of it, anyway. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. Elodie

    IΒ΄ve never read THE GIVER and just added it to my TBR on Goodreads (just like NUMB). Both sound very good πŸ˜€ Thanks for sharing, Colin!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      You are most welcome, Elodie! I hope you enjoy them both. I think you’ll particularly like THE GIVER. πŸ™‚

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  10. Daisy Carter

    Oh, I adore The Giver! Such a wonderful book. I had an awesome English teacher in middle school who threw out the “required reading list” and chose her own books for us to read, including this one.

    I love the moment when the narrator discovers red. So beautiful.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Yes–I remember that scene! That’s part of the subtle world building, too. Lowry doesn’t info-dump about the world; rather she feeds you information through the characters and experiences. Very well done.

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  11. Stephanie Allen

    I still haven’t read The Giver. I’m going to go put it on hold at the library now.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I feel a little bad that I didn’t read it sooner–it’s not long (you could read it in a day), and it’s so good. I hope you get as much out of it as I did, Stephanie. πŸ™‚

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  12. stephscottil

    I read The Giver last year after seeing it referenced so much in relation to the YA dystopian trend. It’s a beautiful book, I love how it handled such massive themes in a way that felt real and sobering.

    Numb sounds pretty cool; you won me over with North Texas and Circus for reasons I will leave unsaid as to promote an air of mystery.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      You’re absolutely right about THE GIVER, Stephanie. Lowry deals with huge themes in a way that’s real, compelling, and in such a easy prose.

      I’m curious how North Texas and Circus entice you… perhaps I don’t want to know! LOL! Maybe you’ll share after you’ve read NUMB. πŸ˜€

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      As I mentioned above, I haven’t read any of the others either, and I’ll need some encouragement to do so. The way the first ended, I’m not sure I can imagine how the story would go from there and maintain the quality of the first.

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Well, that was my pick of the month, even though I did enjoy NUMB. Each are good books for very different reasons, but THE GIVER probably has more broad appeal, especially among YA readers. And especially if you like your fiction dystopian. But even if you’re not a big fan of dystopian, there’s a lot to like about THE GIVER in terms of the writing, the characters, and the way Lowry gradually reveals more about the world as the story progresses.

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      If you like dystopian, I think you’ll enjoy THE GIVER. Definitely for your TBR list, Lora! πŸ™‚

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    1. cds Post author

      Hmmm… a vote of confidence for the sequels to THE GIVER? Okay, perhaps I should consider them. Thanks, Katharine. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. Sara Biren (@sbiren)

    When I was a kid, I read every Lois Lowry book I could get my hands on – but back in those days, it was Anastasia Krupnik (love her) and A Summer to Die. The Giver was published in 1994, I think, and at the time I was knee deep in political theory and “important literature.” I definitely need to go back to her and read this. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      You’re welcome Sara. I’m glad you put quotes around “important literature”–I’m sure you would agree that books like this are just as “important.” πŸ™‚

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  14. angelicarjackson

    Haven’t read Numb, but I know Janet Reid raves about it and his writing. And I reread the Giver a while ago after about a 10 year gap, and got so many different things out of it.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Sean is one of Janet’s clients, so you kind of expect her to rave.. but after reading the book, I can understand 1) why he’s one of her clients, and 2) why she raves about the book! πŸ™‚

      Reply

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