Wednesday, August 8, 2012


'Pin Picks: Eight is Not Enough

It's YA lit day, kids. I opted to help out our girl Claire today because I have read exactly zero of her favorite books! Really! Even though I always enjoy YA lit, being a human being with feet of sand and heart of candy-floss, to paraphrase Morrissey (not really). But I bet we can still come up with something great, and everyone loves a challenge. Okay! On to your books.

1. Dairy Queen, Catherine Gilbert Murdock – Hey, what a great opportunity to talk about working at the DQ! It sucked. Mostly, I remember this one day, in the summer (obviously), and the line was around the block, and I was making a Blizzard in each hand, because it was no longer my first time at the DQ rodeo, right, and it was so hot, and I was so tired, and I leaned forward and rested my forehead on the cold metal front of the Blizzard machine, and then my boss materialized next to me and said, in this Severus-Snape voice, "if there's time to LEAN, there's time to CLEAN." You like boy-meets-girl books, and unfamiliar-environment-fish-out-of-water books. Right on.

2. Lizard Music, Daniel Pinkwater – Did you follow the story about how they used a modified excerpt from a Pinkwater story to use for reading comprehension on a standardized test? It was about a pineapple. Wait, don't worry, the New Yorker wrote about it, so read that. You like weird things.

3. The Thirteenth Child, Patricia Wrede – My cousin married a woman who was somewhere in the middle of thirteen siblings, and she could only remember all their names if she said them really quickly in order, like an auctioneer. She has chosen not to have children of her own. I just ordered this book, because I like the idea of blending magic and the Wild West without becoming Wild Wild West. Which was really just weird-steampunk, not "magic," but maybe that was the problem?

AND, here it is, Scott Westerfeld's Uglies.

You'll like it, it's great. It's about this dystopian society (weird), and a girl (she'll meet a boy) who is excited to move on to the next phase of her existence, which is that when kids get to a certain age they cease to be "Uglies" and become "Pretties," which involves really, really ace plastic surgery and body modification, after which you spend the rest of your life just partying your ass off like you're Zelda F and the world is your bizarro Baz Luhrmann Gatsby trailer. But then, unsurprisingly, there is a canker in the heart of the rose, at which point your desires for girl-boy and frontier mayhem kick in. There are two more books in the sequence, but you do not have to read them if you don't want, because you told me you prefer when books are just BOOKS, and you object to this "here is your first free hit of book heroin, call me if you want more" publishing industry thing. Which I respect.

Okay, now you can all talk about the actual books mentioned in this post, and the extent to which you like, or didn't like them. And also about your working in fast food years.

112 Comments / Post A Comment


This will out me to anyone who happens to read the 'Pin that I know, but at one of my terrible fast food jobs, I was repeatedly hit on (read: asked to smoke pot with) a guy named Possum. Possum!

Golden pickup line: "Come out to the dumpster with me. It'll make your day, you just don't know it yet."

Also, I have read none of these books but I love Patricia Wrede with great intensity.


@TheBelleWitch I worked at an Arby's when I was fresh out of high school where a guy named James (boringly) tried to impress me with his "knowledge" all the time. He watched History Channel a lot, so he knew lots of stuff. But the best was when he came up to me when I was on my ten minute break, sneaking in a hit of Harry Potter before whichever movie was on the way came out.
He looks at my book and says, "Harry Potter, huh? You know, that's the longest trilogy ever written."
I think I mentioned something quietly about how seven books WOULD make for a long trilogy, and then I went back to work.


your brilliance remains forever!@n


Just do the cones. Make sundaes, make Blizzards... put stuff on 'em. A lot of people come to the D.Q... burgers, ice cream, anything, you know? Cokes... just drive in and get a Coke, if you're thirsty.


@Dancercise You're all bastard people.

Lustful Cockmonster

@melis I hate your ass face...


Oooh, Patricia C. Wrede, I love you.

The Lady of Shalott

@Ophelia I LOVED PATRICIA C. WREDE. So good! Yaaay!!!!


@Ophelia Yesssss! The Enchanted Forest books are some of my favorites ever. Morwen is the best.


@Inconceivable! Dealing with Dragonsss!!! I spent middle school basically wanting to be Cimorene or The Woman Who Rides Like a Man


@Ophelia Haha, yes! Alanna was the other person I desperately wanted to be.


@Inconceivable! Hahaha I more or less imagined a world in which Daine was my best friend. Alanna was okay, but Daine was AWESOME.


@Ophelia Definitely just spent the last month rereading every Tamora Pierce book I could get my hands on. SO GOOD!!!

maybe partying will help


I have been rereading the Circle books this week and I just. I was totally a Tortall kid and I still love that universe, but as a somewhat grown person, the Emelanverse BLOWS MY MIND.


@Ophelia I had no idea she wrote more than the Enchanted Forest books/stories; I'm excited to find out about this.

Annnnd I will be happy in any thread that turns into a Tamora Pierce lovefest.

cecil hungry

@SarahP Yes! Tamora Pierce lovefest! I've read absolutely everything except the most recent Beka Cooper book (I'll get to it eventually, but the last three times I tried to check it out of the library it wasn't there even though they SWORE it wasn't checked out). I'm glad she's still putting out books, I still haven't gotten over the death of Diana Wynne Jones and the fact there will be no more new DWJ books ever... Chrestomanci withdrawal for real.

maybe partying will help

@cecil hungry

Oh man, Mastiff fucked me UP. Haven't quite managed to reread it yet.


Oh my God, what Morrissey lyric is that? I'M TRYING AND I GOT NOTHING AND I'M ASHAMED.


@melis It is a made-up Morrissey lyric by Nicole, which is EVEN BETTER. Though my brief google search turned up this gem.


@Bittersweet Songwriting genius!

Chesty LaRue

When I was working in radio, I had to work a Miracle Treat Day at the DQ, and man, after sliding around in ice cream for 4 hours (4 hours of straight-up making blizzards), I can't even look at them the same.
It's sad, really.

The Lady of Shalott

@Chesty LaRue My first job was working at a horrible independent ice-cream shop, and I couldn't eat ice cream for years afterwards. We were "entitled" to one free scoop of ice cream per day as a "perk" but I don't know anyone who took advantage of it because we were all so sick of it.

the roughest toughest frail

@Chesty LaRue One of my first jobs was working for Ben & Jerry's. I had to work the Pier 39 "box" (it was literally an 8'x 5' trailer) with 3 other people on July 4th. I spent 9 hours scooping ice cream for screaming tourists. I've never worked in food services since.

Chesty LaRue

@The Lady of Shalott Seriously with the free food... Nothing makes you want to gag at the smell of baking donuts more than smelling it every Saturday and Sunday at 6.45am as a hungover 15-year-old. It took me years to recover from that summer!


@Chesty LaRue My mother, who had been rather chubby as a teen, lost a ton of weight the summer she worked for a bakery precisely because the constant smell knocked her off sweets for a LONG time.

Chesty LaRue

@Xanthophyllippa Luckily, salt's my jam. Maybe I should go work for a salt and vinegar chips factory...


@Chesty LaRue I'm not sure that would deter me. Salt & vinegar chips are like crack.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@The Lady of Shalott I worked at an ice cream shop/deli for a year in high school and had the total opposite reaction...we used to get high in the walk-in freezer and then graze for hours. The shop, um, went out of business.


I almost bought the Uglies series one time (I think I was in Montreal?) but then I didn't!


@Megano! I clearly did not know where I was going with this



That book tricked me into falling in love with it. DJ, you are the charmingest and the best.


Also--I tried Uglies and kind of hated it--it didn't stand out for me from any of the other YA utopia/dystopia books that have been coming out lately, and I ended up leaving it as a DNF. HOWEVER, I absolutely fell for another of his books, Leviathan! It is excellent, and I reallllly want to get the audiobook because it's read by Alan Cumming.


@frigwiggin Also I totally had Leviathan's sequel, Behemoth, checked out from the library, but I returned it yesterday out of shame that I had renewed it three times without getting around to it. :( (Although I would have renewed it again if an overdue fee hadn't blocked me renewing things. I paid it, I paid it! I'm never using Link+ again...)


@frigwiggin Ugh, I need to stop talking to myself in the comments. NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR LIBRARY EMBARRASSMENT FRIGGY


@frigwiggin I care! I can no longer check books out of my county library, because in high school I racked up so many overdue fines, and I still live in the same metro area. I would pay them, but I'm unemployed, and it would just mean I would check out more books, and accumulate more late fees.

This is why I started buying my books used on Amazon or at Half Price Books. It was cheaper than the overdue fines. :(


@frigwiggin Also, I while I liked Uglies a moderate amount, I really liked the fourth/related book Extras. I think it could stand alone, it's about a separate character, and it seemed more coherent than the series.

I will have to read Leviathan!


@MissMushkila In Chicago, they're actually holding a library fine "amnesty week" at the end of the month so people will come back and check out books again. I'm not sure how widespread this is, but the article I saw said we as a city have incurred $1.4 million in fines since the beginning of last year, and it's kind of astonishing.


@Amphora Aw, that's pretty neat. I never mind paying my library fines because a) I can afford to and b) I don't mind giving back to the library, but this time I screwed up with Link+ (which charges you $1/day in overdue fees) so I felt like an embarrassed idiot who owed them $30 and was afraid I'd get scolded. For the record, the older guy who helped me at the desk was eminently professional and did no scolding.


@Amphora Yes, my excuse has often been that I am waiting for their fine forgiveness day. Only here they do not seem to advertise them. And since I never go to the library, because of the fines, I don't think my excuse is plausible.


@frigwiggin I was totally in the same boat. I could not deal with Uglies, but I found Leviathan and both its sequels to be delightful! It is just something about Deryn, and the lack of 1st person narrative (Uglies was 1st person I think) and the world building that really worked for me.


@curiouscamel @MissMushkila just go to the library. They might tell you you have a fine, but that's it! Also, maybe if you befriend a librarian they can tell you about fine forgiveness times.

lavender gooms

@MissMushkila My state's library system allows you to pay off your fines with canned good donations... or at least they used to. I should probably check on that, since I racked up some serious fines when I was working on grad school papers.


@frigwiggin YES EXTRAS. the 4th book is so good!
The series really picks up, because the main character goes through a massive transformation.

Though I never really imagine the pretties as pretty. I think of them as like people coloured avatar people meets anime or something.


@frigwiggin I wasn't that into Uglies, either. I just didn't care about any of the characters.

I'm never embarrassed to have library fines (though I have them much less frequently now that I renew things online) because I figure the library can use the money. On the other hand, I was absolutely mortified last week when a friend and I got shushed (not asked to be quieter, literally shushed) at the library. We were talking but we weren't anywhere near anyone doing quiet things. I think the main reason I feel bad about it is that it briefly gave me a ton of negative library-related-feelings and I'm sure if that librarian had done that to someone who didn't already have loads and loads of positive library-related feelings, they might not want to come back.


@frigwiggin & all When I was a librarian, I never judged anyone that had fines. The only reason I didn't have massive fines was that a perk of my job was no fines. Even knowing that, I still haven't been in months because of my current fines....


@robyn.andrews Oh, I KNOW I have a fine, it's ~ $85 dollars. My library charges a flat fee whenever anything is 20 or more days overdue (anywhere from 5-25). I haven't been to the library not because I'm embarrassed, but because the fine has frozen my account so I can't check anything out anymore until I pay it under 10 dollars.


@frigwiggin I actually had the Library Police come to my house to get my overdue books. Talk about the nexus between embarrassment and fascination!


@frigwiggin Tally had a major case of I AM IN LOVE WITH EEEEEVERY BOY syndrome. Blah. And I tried to get Behemoth yesterday but I think it was in with the YA rather than SF/F and that's in a whole other wing and nope.

Also, my life was revolutionized by finding out that my new local library system lets you pay fines ONLINE. WITH YOUR CARD. We live in the future!


@anachronistique et al: You guys my library doesn't charge fines so I could be like 4 months late returning my books and all I get is regular gently worded email reminders to bring them back when I get the chance. Yes, it's pretty awesome.


@frigwiggin I also didn't love the Uglies series and while I thought Leviathan was great I was not that impressed by the sequels. I think Westerfeld's talent is in world building but not so much female characters. Especially female characters in love.

H.E. Ladypants

A few years back I actually had a 12 year old girl under my care who was really, really into the Uglies series. I have no idea what I would think about the books were I to just just pick them up but at the time I loved them because they were a good lean in for us to talk about a lot of pressure of adolescence. We talked about social pressures and beauty, falling in love with all the boys (which is okay to do when you're a teen and falling in and out of love all the time), trying to look beyond what society is seems to be offering and thinking about what you want in life, and even depression and healthy vs. unhealthy coping mechanisms. (The cutting in the Specials was actually kind of good in that sense?) I don't mean that the books addressed that stuff terribly directly but that talking about the books frequently lead us into talking about some of the sorts of really heavy stuff that she was thinking about and didn't know how to express.

So. That was pretty good.


Oh, the Dairy Queen book is pretty good. So are all things Pinkwater. I find Wrede kind of dreary.

Hard to believe any YA fan hasn't read Uglies. I might have recommended some Very Old YA, like Norma Klein's Mom the Wolf Man and Me, or Zenna Henderson's stories.


@Maryaed Zenna Henderson! Her books are excellent, I've probably read Pilgrimage ten times since I was a teen.


@Maryaed Oh, God, Zenna Henderson! I have "Ingathering," the collection of all of The People stories.

Also "The Dog Days of Arthur Cane" which may or may not be still in print, but which is right up there with "Lizard Music" as one of my favorites.


The Thirteenth Child - delightful! Not quite AS funny as Patricia Wrede in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles but still distinctively her style, I thought. And it takes the old "seventh son of a seventh son" storyline and flips it sideways.


If you are into the setting of The Thirteenth Child, might I suggest Territory by Emma Bull, which is about Tombstone, except the Earp brothers are magicians?


@aubrey! Have you read Bull's "War For The Oaks"? It's toooootally '80's, which makes me love it even more, and is about a musician who's kidnapped by the Grey Neighbors to help them fight their war.

Also all of the Bordertown/Borderland books, please.


@Mingus_Thurber Yusss, War for the Oaks! I love that book. It basically created an entire genre.

Are the Bordertown books out of print now? I tried to reread them a little while ago, but couldn't get ahold of any.


@aubrey! I think the Bordertown books are mostly out of print. But an anthology of new stories, Welcome to Bordertown, came out recently and it was pretty great.


I met Patricia Wrede once and fangirled all over her. I'm not sure there was a coherent sentence in anything I said. Fortunately she was very nice about it.


Lizard Music! I got sad last semester, and asked my mother to mail me our (many-times-dropped-in-the-bath-) copy, and then I got less sad.

Also great:
- The Sky Is Everywhere, Heist Society, Anna and the French Kiss, Warm Bodies

The trick to finding awesome YA is never looking at the covers, and doing your best to avoid their names until you already love them anyway.


I have recommendations! Because of Dairy Queen, I'll recommend Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Coffeehouse Angel, by Suzanne Selfours. The first is much heavier than the first, but even though Coffeehouse Angel seems light, there's a lot of heavy stuff about family and guilt and friendship and love in there, I totally recommend it (and her other books, though Coffeehouse Angel is probably my favorite).

Because of Patricia Wrede, I'll recommend A Brief History of Montmaray, which is a delightful little book with no magic but a fun family. I haven't read the sequels yet, but I've heard good things. And (though this is middle grade, not YA) The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, about a governess who goes to take care of three children found in the woods of a grand estate who were literally raised by wolves. It's just as fun as it sounds.

Also also, When You Reach Me, because that book is one of the best books I've read in the past few years (also middle grade).

Cat named Virtute

@thebestjasmine Ohhhhh, I loved When You Reach Me. Did the ending not just totally do you in?


@thebestjasmine I adored Speak when I read it (in high school) and haven't gone back to it since, but maybe I should!

Also, apparently there's a movie? With Kristen Stewart in it.

maybe partying will help


Can we talk about Wintergirls, another of Halse Anderson's books, and how much it killed me when I read it? I had to keep putting it down. It was too much to handle all at once. Cried more reading that book than I had in quite awhile.


@thebestjasmine Alllllll of you should totally read Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger.


@thebestjasmine Oh! When You Reach Me is so, so good. I loved it. Have you read the short poem books Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech? Those books take less than an hour to read but you'll be crying for the rest of the day (week/month/year? probably not year).

Regina Phalange

Random bit of trivia I recently learned (and all you other literary 'pinners probably already know): Catherine Gilbert Murdock is the sister of "Eat Pray Love" Liz Gilbert. AND (sorry to hijack, Nicole), Liz Gilbert now runs a store (http://twobuttons.com/)

Both those bits of trivia never fail to delight me.


@Regina Phalange SHE IS? What. I had no idea! I haven't read any of Liz Gilbert's stuff, but CGM's books are near and dear to my heart. I feel weird now.


@frigwiggin @Regina Phalange wait what? Now I want to read her book even more!

Regina Phalange

@frigwiggin @robyn.andrews Yep! Here's proof (http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/bio.htm), and if you Google their pictures, you can see a pretty good resemblance, I think...

Because I am apparently a fount of knowledge regarding Liz Gilbert today: she also wrote "The Last American Man," which is a GREAT biography of a fascinating guy who lives off the grid, AND she wrote the story that inspired "Coyote Ugly." She's really cool! And I'm sure her sister is, too!


I worked at a Marble Slab for three summers. Nothing, except the patriarchy, inspired more rage in me.


They donate to Purity Balls, I hear. Do tell us stories!


BASICALLY! If you are looking for some amazing YA recommendations, check out the blog Forever Young Adult.

maybe partying will help


AND if you like reading YA, there might be an FYA book club near you! (I can vouch for the fun-ness of these)


@maybe partying will help Me too me too! Yay 4EverYA!

Cat named Virtute

If we're talking YA, can we talk about John Green? I read his new book, which I was not expecting to love in a single sitting two weeks ago. I was in the bath, which meant I was in the bath for three and a half hours. I cried so many times and it was wonderful and tragic.

I also dearly love Paper Towns, which is, I think, a really good antidote to Manic Pixie Dream Girlism. Oh John Green.


@Cat named Virtute Oh my god, The Fault in Our Stars is a brilliant, brilliant book.

I started reading it to the dude while he cooked dinner, and then once he was hooked, I blew town for a week so he got to read all the exciting parts without me there to just watch his face intently from the corner of the room like a cat.


So yes I recommend it to everyone.


(Although I didn't really like JG's other books nearly so much. Looking for Alaska felt honest but kind of overwrought, Paper Towns couldn't hold my attention, and An Abundance of Katherine's was a delight that I thoroughly enjoyed but it didn't capture my imagination the way that TFIOS would.)

Cat named Virtute

@PatatasBravas Funny, I had a reverse reaction. I LOVED Paper Towns, and read it in a single weekend when nothing had been holding my attention for weeks, and I liked An Abundance of Katherines okay, but it didn't have the same oomph factor for me. I have sadly not yet read Looking for Alaska because some jerk at the library where I was working lost our copy.

But yes, The Fault in Our Stars. So beautiful, no more than a touch heavy-handed, and really genuine. The parts about her parents nearly did me in, making me remember when I was having a lot of eye surgery as a kid and being in and out of hospitals (though there was never a chance I was going to die, thank god). It does weird things to your maturity level and your relationship with your parents and brings up all these feelings of gratitude and guilt and just wanting to be a teenager who can be angry and belligerent with them sometimes. I thought Green really nailed that.


@Cat named Virtute Apparently he spent about a decade writing/rewriting what eventually became TFIOS, and it really shows in every line of the book. I think I remember an interview where he was like, "Yeah, it started out about this young hospital chaplain and some cancer kids who hide in a cave, and it was preposterous and also all about me instead of the kids, because I was that chaplain, except the cave bit was made up."

And then, with all this work, he wrote from the perspective of a vibrant, sick, smart teenage girl in such a spot-on manner. It's impossibly good. I love it.


@PatatasBravas or maybe I just like the idea of making out in the Anne Frank house


@PatatasBravas Oh I love TFIOS so much I even obsessively checked his Tumblr for people who've read it so I could read all the questions and answers! Also for those into Dystopian YA I recommend Divergent by Veronica Roth. It was like crack, I read it in one chair in one sitting. The sequel isn't quite as good, but the first book (although it owes a significant debt to The Hunger Games) is pretty awesome escapism.

we all want to be big stars

@PatatasBravas AHHHH The Fault in Our Stars! SO AMAZING. But you guys, what about Will Grayson, Will Grayson? That's my favorite of his for sure, and +100 to John Green for writing some awesome gay YA fiction.


@Cat named Virtute I LOVE Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but have to point out that it was co-authored with David Levithan, who is more responsible for the dark will grayson (if you've read the book, you know what I mean). Mad props to whoever created Tiny Cooper though!

the roughest toughest frail

@Cat named Virtute Well, I am convinced that I am cold and dead inside because I didn't love-LOVE TFIOS like just about everyone else did. Maybe it's because my friends kept pushing the book on me, going on and on about how it's the best thing since tits and chocolate; I enjoyed the book, but didn't cry my eyes out. I did read it in a single sitting, not even stopping to use the bathroom, but I don't know that I liked it all that much.


@Cat named Virtute The Fault in Our Stars is amazing, and I just hope that it comes out in Spanish soon (I'm in Mexico) so I can give it to everyone I know, specially my mom. I enjoyed trully and it really is John Green's best work to date.


@abetterfate Haha no, not cold and dead inside, not at all.

Besides, TFIOS

Pim Robert@facebook

I worked at an ice cream parlor for a summer. The manager/owner wasn't there often but would watch the shop from home via a live feed to her laptop.I would get a call saying, "Your overscooping on those mediums, that's my money your giving away." "Instead of just standing there, why don't you clean the bathrooms?" "Did you offer that man that just came in the 2 for one with $20 purchase?" I never knew when the eye from the sky was absent or just silently glaring, making me industrious and increasingly paranoid. I also wore a 6 ft tall cow costume in 100 F for the July 4th parade. I blacked out at one point, slumped inside of the shell of the suit, but no one noticed since I appeared to be still sitting up from the back of the convertible I was riding due to excellent infrastructure of the suit. It actually had a fan built inside of the head, but the owner neglected to purchase batteries and told me to just "go natural, like everyone else did." I opted not.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Pim Robert@facebook Oh my god. That sounds like a nightmare.

Miss Violet

Thank you thank you thank you for the LIZARD MUSIC shout out!! I still love that book - it's like wonderful YA magical realism. (I also love Worms of Kukumlima, and Yobgorgle -which is a variation on the Flying Dutchman myth.) I love his kid protagonists! Years ago I was lucky enough to meet him briefly when I was a senior in college (he was an acquaintance of a professor) and it meant a lot to me to be able to thank him for all the joy his books have given me over the years.

El Grande Fluffio

@Miss Violet My sister turned me on to Lizard Music, I still remember the cover which was one of those 70s paintings with the Chicken Man and Victor at the zoo. I might buy it and bring it out to my sister for when I go see her next week. I loved all of Daniel Pinkwater's books and read them all one summer -- am so envious you got to meet him!!


@Miss Violet I'm so jealous you got to meet Daniel Pinkwater. The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death is one of my favorites, ahhh. I wrote him an email once and he wrote back and it made my year.

Miss Violet

@yeah-elle I'm not going to lie, he was a little odd. We were at a graduation party at the professor's house and she invited Daniel and his wife Jill because she knew that this other guy and I were huge fans. He preferred to stay in the house and not really socialize with the rest of the party so we went inside to meet him quietly. Maybe he was shy? Or a touch agoraphobic? Or just didn't want to hang out with a bunch of college kids?

And oh man, do I remember that 70s painting with the Chicken Man and Victor at the zoo. I do believe it is time for a re-read - and time for Mr. Violet to share in the wonders of the Pinkwater universe. Every time I stay up too late and see weird things on TV I think about Victor. I used to wish they would make this into a movie, but now I'm glad they haven't.


Fun fact: "Uglies" was inspired by the Ted Chiang short story "Liking What You See: A Documentary." It's a series of interviews/press releases centered around the question of implementing mandatory "calliagnosia" (a brain alteration that renders people unable to distinguish a beautiful face from an ugly one) in a college setting. Among other things, it touches on discrimination, issues of personal choice, and the use of beauty in advertising.

Aside from the obvious thematic elements they share, there's a sort of subtext of reaction in both the Uglies series and the Ted Chiang story- the whole calliagnosia movement deals with people's responses to stimuli, and is in itself a reaction to advertising 'weaponizing' beauty, and ((UGLIES SERIES SPOILERS)) in Uglies, the main character's most long-lived personality trait is reactionary. She spends each book trying to own herself and operate at her full capacities, but since in each book she's actually been forced to be a different person, it feels like a series of reactions, not a continuous action.

(Also, hi, I just de-lurked to post this!)


I am intrigued by the calliagnosia! Does it just stop you from processing faces entirely or what? As we've lengthily discussed here, one person's ugly is another person's hot stuff, and I'm not sure how that would work otherwise.


It doesn't stop people from distinguishing one face from another, or make anyone blind to fashion or cultural perceptions (if everyone's wearing fake eyelashes or everyone avoids people with long noses, someone with calliagnosia would notice and maybe follow the trend, but they wouldn't be able to make an aesthetic judgement between two different pairs of eyes or two different noses.) The agnosia just shuts off the portion of the brain that judges beauty in faces. Ted Chiang started with the discovery of face-processing (example: face-recognition) circuitry in the brain, and the speculative leap is to scientists being able to isolate and switch off one that deals specifically with aesthetic facial perception.

In the story (and I assume there's a certain amount of actual research behind this) the things that people across different cultures find beautiful in faces are clear skin, symmetry, and facial proportions close to the population mean (except in the case of deviations caused by sex hormones, because those show good reproductive potential.)


Does that apply to other emotional responses you get from people's faces, such as curiosity or fear or anger? If you are interested and therefore attracted to patterned skin, for example, would patterned skin still look interesting to you (if your interest fuels your attraction?) or would you become uninterested because it's partially an aesthetic reaction? Or if someone looks like a dudebro, would you not be dismissive because that is an aesthetic assessment?
And is it like you just don't feel an opinion on the face?
(I hope you like discussing this as much as I apparently do.)


I don't think it messes up other emotional responses to faces, since I think calliagnosia would draw a distinction between the canvas of someone's face and the image on that canvas, which would be body language as expressed through the face, expressions of emotion, use of adornment/pattern, etc. So you'd process and react personally to the images, but not the shape of the canvases. Big canvas, small canvas, rough canvas, smooth canvas; unlike with faces, you wouldn't want to look at one style of canvas more than any other. Your pupils wouldn't dilate more or less based on canvas shape. (I'm defining shape here as contour or configuration of an object in space, not the condition or state of that object, because symmetry and proportion are both about how an object fills space, and while 'skin health' is a condition, its result is smoothness or regularity, which is also about how an object fills space. )

So going by the idea that calliagnosia deemphasizes the aesthetic impact of the contour of someone's face, I think it would make you more free to be into someone who had patterned skin, if that is what you were into, because you would be judging their appearance soley on the merits of their personality and/or form of self-expression. Unless the pattern was some sort of thing that made their face more symmetric, proportional, or regular, in which case you then wouldn't react as positively as someone who didn't have calliagnosia.

(Don't worry, I am clearly as interested in discussing this as you are.)


Ah, I'm still really confused! AND INTRIGUED.
To me, it seems that attractive/repulsive features actually stem from other cognitive responses (interesting skin pattern, familiar smile), but the two are so closely linked I can't imagine one response without the other. I guess you'd really think "That guy looks like my ex" and not feel any further reaction about it?
Also, what if some of your Repulsive reactions were useful to your safety? "That guy is wearing a tiny-brimmed fedora-->he is gross-looking (because he will try to fondle me in the bar)."


If you're into the Old West/frontier YA fantasy books, can I recommend Gaslight Dogs? I haven't read Thirteenth Child because I have Feelings about the race issue, but although Gaslight Dogs is far from perfect on that front, the main female character is Inuit and the main premise is the Wild West where the colonialists were partly repelled by indigenous magic. Robin Hobb's Soldier Son and Liveship Traders books are also frontier/colonialism themed and while I don't think she pulled it off as well as I'd hoped, it's definitely a new, interesting take far from your typical European fantasy. They're not YA, though.

Also, my current favourite YA series is the Spirit Walker/Cold Magic series by Kate Elliot, which is ice age, magic, steampunk YA.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@MilesofMountains Ooooh...definitely putting that on my TBR list!


@MilesofMountains COLD MAGIC!!!!! BEST BOOK. BEST SERIES. Unable to discuss calmly and rationally. My life goal is to get everybody I know to read that series. And I am pining away till Cold Steel comes out, because asdfjksdfjklsdf CAT and ANDEVAI and WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN???


My current job is working at an ice cream shop for $8 an hour which is about how it sounds like it is. I am going back to nursing school this fall (three classes from starting clinicals!) and my parents are great in that after years of supporting me "taking time" to "deal with my issues" they did not respond to this news with an, "OH, FUCKING FINALLY!"

El Grande Fluffio

And I Stay Near You by M.E. Kerr popped into my head for some reason the other day and that book knocked my socks off when I was a kid. About a poor girl named Mildred Cone in the 1940s who loved a rich guy and it traces their story through three generations.


Not one person has mentioned Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting with the siblings-listing thing?!


I think the Pinkwater excerpt that was butchered on the standardized test was from Borgel, not Lizard Music. Borgel is another Pinkwater masterpiece. This kid has a mysterious relative named Borgel who lives with his family but might not actually be a relative, and Borgel tells odd stories that supposedly contain life lessons. The maimed excerpt was one of them. There are two volumes out that each contain four or five of Pinkwater's YA novels, including both of the Snarkout Boys books and Borgel. As good a place to start as any.


@pinecone I read the hell out of Five Novels. Snarkout Boys! Alan Mendelsohn! Young Adult Novel! Basically I think every kid should get a copy at age eleven. Can't hurt.

sarah girl

I only have four siblings, and I still list them in birth order when I'm trying to make sure I haven't forgotten anyone.


i'm troubled by the insufficient enthusiasm for Murdoch's Dairy Queen in these comments. It's GREAT! as are the sequels. just so everyone knows.


I love all the books Claire mentioned, but I don't like Uglies.


I simply want to tell you that I am new to weblog and definitely liked this blog site. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You absolutely have wonderful stories. Cheers for sharing with us your blog. bulk sms in nigeria

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account