several weeks ago, in a PoPS update, i asked for reading suggestions, as i’ve been tearing through books recently. these were the first two suggestions i took.

the princess bride by william goldman

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the ‘S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride’. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex. In short, it’s about everything.
description from goodreads

i’d been meaning to read this for forever. it’s a great favorite of several of my favorite people, i don’t know how i’ve managed not to have read it up until now. and it totally stood up to the weight of my expectations: meta-fiction, tongue-in-cheek, high adventure, and true love at it’s best. many classic fairy tale and adventure tropes are tackled and improved by william goldman’s witty rapier of a pen. if you’ve seen the fabulous movie, you have a pretty good idea of the book. this is one of the few examples where the movie does the book justice, helped tremendously by the fact that william goldman wrote the book and the screenplay. and while they both feel true to the other, they each have their own charms, because william goldman really understands the merits and differences between telling a story as a movie and a book.

related story: this is among my cousin sara’s favorites, and she is nothing if not a discerning reader. her 1977 paperback copy that she’s had since childhood has been read so many times that it was beginning to fall apart, and the spine had cracked so that it was in two or three sections, and she took to transporting it in a sandwich baggy so as to not lose any portion of the book. i asked her once why she didn’t buy a new, sturdier, copy to replace it, as it is still in print and fairly easy to find. she is, it turns out, very partial to the old cover, and most of the new ones involve photographs from the movie as part of the cover (those are never as good, are they?). so i hopped onto abebooks and found her a copy with the same cover, just as old, but in better condition. i can’t tell you if she’s started toting that one around or not, as i haven’t seen her with her own copy of princess bride since then… but i thought i’d tell you the story anyways.

the fault in our stars by john green

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
description from goodreads

i knew if i asked for book recommendations from the PoPS audience, john green would be an inevitable one. he is, after all, one half of the youtube sensation that is the vlogbrothers, and our audience is nearly entirely made up of nerdfighters. i had a certain amount of hesitation in beginning this book, because, you know: dying kids. from the first page, hazel never pretends to be anything but terminal. but i’d read the reviews, so i knew (as much as you can know) that i would like this book. and guess what? it was great. i finished it a couple of weeks ago now, and it’s still lingering around in my thoughts, not ready to be shelved, which speaks well of it. i think i like it even more in retrospect than i did when i closed the book. one thing i really appreciated about the fault in our stars is that the characters were less interested in completing a bucket list of things that meant that they had really lived (a pretty standard dying-kid-story trope), and more interested in what kind of impact their lives would make. hazel repeatedly thought about how to minimize the impact her life had on other living beings (she was vegetarian, for example), and how to minimize the tragedy of her death on others, because this was what she could offer up to the world. this book is sweet, heartbreaking, and validating, but not necessarily in the ways you would expect it to be.