Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reading Roundup

Great excitement here today as my brother, who has been in the hospital (recovering from an appendectomy and subsequent complications) for the last ten days, should be getting out today. Hurrah! (Update: He's out! Yay!)

So…books. I’ve been in a odd sort of reading slump. I can’t tell if it’s a case of my brain not working (perhaps it’s the heat) or that the books I’ve been trying just not being very good or that the books have been okay but I have come off such a run of really excellent books that only the excellent will do. I finally, yesterday, got my pre-ordered copy of George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons (it’s only been in the store for what seems like weeks) and I have the volume before that to read first…and I’m scared to open it. I’m afraid I will find that it’s as appealing as cold scrambled eggs and then what will I do?

But I haven’t done a book post in a while, so perhaps I should tell you about my recent reads, excellent and not-so-much-so. I’ll mention the exceptional ones here and throw the others into the list to the right, though there are so many, some probably won’t show up. In fact, that’s a question…for my three blog readers…oh never mind, I think I answered it. Y’all can only see the top twenty-five titles on that list, can’t you? It takes going to the Design page, which only I can do, to see the entire list. Well, sorry about that. But if anything is really good, I’ll mention it here.

I read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter back in April…really, it’s been April since I did this?! On checking…yes, it really has been. Anyway, the book was good…though not as good as the hype about it might lead you to believe. A decent atmospheric mystery, with appealing characters.

Inzanesville, by Jo Ann Beard, was pretty good. Very evocative of growing up in the seventies. I’m a little older than the narrator, but still, there was a lot that rang true for me and through me back to that decade.

I enjoyed Among Others, by Jo Walton, although when I was done I thought “Huh. There wasn’t really a lot of there, there…but still I really liked it.” Set in England, a little magic, a little family tragedy, a little teen angst…and a great love of books and stories and their power to help you through life. I liked it enough that I bought another book by Walton, Tooth and Claw. The plot sounds very Trollopeian…an inheritance and a court fight over the inheritance, courting of eligible but under-doweried daughters, younger sons making their way in the world. The twist is that all these characters are dragons, living in a rigid, Victorian-inspired society.

Gobbled up Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman, which was appropriately chilly. Also read Mo Hayder’s Gone, another good mystery/thriller.

Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life was a fun read, full of fascinating facts connected to the houses we live in. And as Bryson points out…everything can somehow be connected back to the house. I wish my mind retained these marvelous facts…I could use them as conversation starters for years. Unfortunately, my mind is like a sieve and the facts have all sifted away. On the bright side, the book will seem brand-new to me when I stumble across it again!

Speaking of forgetting, What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty, was wonderful fun! It’s about thiiiiiiiiiis close to being chick-lit and fluff, but no, there’s a tough little core there. The main character is Alice, who comes to on the floor of her gym after having passed out and fallen off her exercise bike. She’s 29, newly pregnant, and madly in love with her husband. But wait! Actually, she’s lost 10 years of memories…she’s 39, has three children, and is going through a bitter divorce. How she copes with the loss of memory – and its recovery – makes for a very entertaining read.

The other book I starred in my reading journal was Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower. Some might see this as rather polemical, but I adored it. The main character, Lucy, is a 26-year-old children’s librarian, who wants to “save” a young boy who comes to her for books. Ian’s parents are fundamentalists – his mother only wants him reading books that “contain the breath of God” but he is a bold and far-ranging reader. Also, although he is only 10, he appears, to several people, to be gay. Lucy doesn’t like people pigeonholing Ian as gay but is even more horrified to discover that Ian’s parents are sending him to a church-based “reeducation” program where they attempt to cure gayness through Bible verse. Then Lucy discovers Ian hiding in the library, having run away from home, and the two of them hit the road in a journey that one can only feel will end badly. Throughout the book I kept thinking, “This can’t end well. How is this going to end well? This can’t possibly end well.” But, using a small dose of Deus Ex Machina…it does. Like Among Others, this has a lot to say about books and how they can save us. Highly recommended!

Don't know that I'll get the list updated this evening. That may be a job for tomorrow...there have been quite a lot of books between April and now!


Life's a Stitch said...

Will put these on my reading list. I like blogger's recommendations.

Oh, Brother said...

I wonder if Our Father would be interested in the Bryson book? Maybe so . . .