I always have a big hold list at the library and two weeks ago about five of my requests all popped up for check out at the same time. Ah, the pressure, the glorious pressure, I must read these, and fast. So I did. And they were each perfect in their own way. But first the craptastic offerings!
Not Great Books - Probably Should Avoid, Unless All The Other Books in the World Have Been Burned In A Bonfire, Then They Probably Aren't Too Awful In Comparison:
The Raw Shark Texts - a theoretical shark is stalking and slowly stealing the consciousness of the protagonist. What? Uh? Strangely compelling, but ultimately how do you care about something that doesn't even exist?
The Eyre Affair- another odd bit of lit, alternate universe, characters are being kidnapped out of popular literature, the protagonist is named Thursday Next, clever premise and yet just not very good.
The Swan Thieves - Just a huge disappointment. Her first book, The Historian, was beautifully written, great pacing and plot, strong characters, and vampires! But Swan Thieves, ugh. It drags on and on, the different narrators are barely distinguishable from each other and it just bored me. And I didn't like any of the paper thin characters. I wanted to like it. But it wouldn't let me.
Books You Really Should Read Now, I Mean It, Go to the Library, Right Now, I'm Serious, Stop Reading This Post, Get Your Library Card, and Go Start the Car:
Little Bee - Heartbreaking, brutal, gorgeous, mysterious, I might have cried two or three times while reading, this book is staggeringly good. I don't want to tell you anything about the plot because discovering the story for yourself is half the joy of reading this book.
Let The Great World Spin - A lyrical, lofty, poetic and beautiful story. Set in New York City in the 1970's, it weaves together the story of ten different characters, connecting them all on August 7th, 1974 when Phillipe Petit strung a cable between the then under construction World Trade Center towers, and spent an hour walking, dancing and running across the cable, 1350' above the ground, with 100,000 New York residents watching him. Phillipe Petit is the real life character in the book, but for more information on him you should rent Man on Wire. The book is set in the 1970's, but feels timeless.
Whip Smart - Sex, sex, sex! And fetishes and spanking and domination. This one was naughty. And just flat out raunchy. But smart raunchy. The memoir of a professional dominatrix in New York City, Melissa Febos was a bright young college student who put herself through school by dominating and verbally abusing rich white guys. With a serious drug problem, Febos becomes nearly as addicted to the power of her sadomasochistic daily grind. I thought this was a fascinating peek behind the scenes of a private dungeon, into the even more private secret fantasies and fetishes of everyday men, and inside Febos' own thought processes as she gets deeper into the lifestyle and then successfully kicks her drug habit and moves away from the unsavory, sex work. A reflection on sexual power, cultural mores and female empowerment, all without any actual sexual intercourse.
Mark Twain's Helpful Hints for Good Living - It's Mark Twain. He is wise and timely and hysterical and irreverent and he's been dead for 100 years. But he knows people. He knows how to educate and entertain. This book is a great collection of essays, stories and personal letters on subjects from hospitality to food and drink to raising children. I love Mark Twain.
Horns- The author, Joe Hill, is the son of Stephen King, and it shows. But this isn't a retread of his father's work. Joe Hill is his own man though his books, Heart Shaped Box is his terrifying first novel, are certainly in the same horror genre as King. This book is a wild, funny, scary examination of good and evil, grief, revenge and salvation. Not a perfect book by any means, the ending was a slight let down, but the exhilarating story and likable characters, particularly the main character, Ignatius, make this a giddy, speedy, creepy read.
Joe and I are on vacation all next week, now comes the real challenge, what books to bring? I may blog on vacation, I may not, but either way, Florida here we come. Fruity drinks, sitting on the beach, and maybe a jet ski or two.