Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Reading Rainbow: 30 Second Book Round Up

Yes, there is always a book near me. Yes, I'm always reading at least one, possibly two at a time, ok three this week. Yes, I talk and write about books a lot. Yes, I have now purchased my second book nerd inspired t-shirt. Yes, you can skip this post if you "don't get reading" as I heard one of the teenage kids training across the hall say to his equally lame friend. Yes, I think you are silly, but go turn on Cheaters or Real Housewives, I won't tell.

So here's what I've been perusing, devouring, or plodding through since my last book post, in 30 seconds:

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro -  I wanted to love this book. But I couldn't. I felt confused and lost off and on throughout. I understand that this confusion is intentional, it mimics the confusion of the characters, but it frustrated me. The disconnected time line, the bouncing from scene to scene, the narrator's unemotional retelling of many pertinent scenes, it just left me cold. The writing is lovely and strange much like the Hailsham school that is a central character in the book, but I just couldn't love this novel.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok - I had the pleasure of reading this book for the Blogher Book Club and reviewing it here. It was harsh and painful and a lovely story of redemption and struggle.

Bossypants by Tina Fey (audio book) - I laughed so hard listening/reading this book that I almost choked on my morning coffee. I got coffee on my steering wheel. This is the sign of a good book. I will admit I've listened to it twice now.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (audio book) - I loved this book. That perfect mix of science, family narrative, history and straight up dysfunction. I highly highly recommend it.

A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane - Powerful, surprisingly funny, well crafted, depressing and violent as hell. Can't wait to read the next book in the series.

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz - Another review for Blogher's Book Club over here. Part self help, part literary critique and part soft little memoir.

Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan (audio book) - Educational, fascinating, frankly revelatory. Makes committed long term monogamy seem like a miracle.
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen - This was a pallete cleanser that failed. Sometimes after reading something heavy I need something sweet and light to start fresh. This did not do that. It was a let down compared to Allen's other trifles, Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen. It just felt formulaic, not fresh.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - Yep, another review for Blogher. Can I tell you how fun it is to get free books and write reviews? I love it. Here's the review, no, not just Twilight for adults, no.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson - God, this book was frustrating. To read about the early years of Hitler's Germany, to watch the passive appeasement by European and American leaders, and to know how it all ends. This book follows the brief years of William Dodd's ambassadorship in Berlin, his prescient and ignored opinions about the impending havoc and destruction the Nazis will inflict on the world, oh and the exploits of his rather slutty daughter.

A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans  - I got 100 pages into this book. I realized I didn't care about any of the characters, so I stopped.

The Beach Trees by Karen White - Another Blogher review, soon to be posted on their site. I very much enjoyed this book and it makes me want to take another trip to New Orleans. Road trip, Kristen?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I read this book over the 4th of July weekend, I think everyone I know has already read it. I loved the story and the way it flowed between three different narrators. The writing wasn't particularly amazing but the story was so compelling I didn't care. It felt like the next chapter in Someone Knows My Name. Also infuriating.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes - I'm about half way through this book. It's interesting, but not shocking. A clear explanation of the biology of weight gain that delves into research that debunks some of the theories that our diet obsessed culture is hyper focused upon. Theories that may be entirely false. Plus I enjoy the author's frequent use of the words "sloth" and "gluttony."

Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link - This book of short stories is unsettling and gave me nightmares last night. I can't wait to read more. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.

Next up: The Kid by Sapphire (this is the probably incredibly painful and depressing sequel to Precious that I'm reviewing for Blogher's Book Club,) Darkness Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane (the second in his Kenzie/Gennaro PI series which I am loving,) State of Wonder (the latest from one of my all time favorites Ann Patchett, and Lit by Mary Karr (I loved both of her earlier memoirs- The Liars Club and Cherry.)

So pretty much the rest of this summer will be spent knitting while watching all of the Harry Potter movies in a row before the new one comes out, reading, cooking and walking the dog when it's not 95 degrees out at 8pm. Not bad, not bad at all.


Kristendom said...

Ha - Sean is headed to New Orleans this weekend, so I've been thinking about that trip, too, and how badly I'd like to go back sometime - sans car troubles this time perhaps.
Great recommendations, as always - how have I not read ANY of these? I have The Help on my shelf at home, as well as Never Let Me Go on my iPad, so maybe I'll get to those eventually. You know...after I finish the tome that is The Arabian Nights (I did finish Volume 1 of 4 last night, so I guess that's something).

Kassie said...

Oh, you've read a bunch, that Jane Austen, Henrietta Lacks, the Dennis Lehane! Those last two I heard about from you.

AmyK said...

I thought Lit was a letdown from Cherry and Liar's club. Glad you liked HeLa. And thanks for the list of recommendations.

I don't get people who don't get reading. My office mate got quite defensive about her lack of reading, seemed to feel reading was a waste of time. Pshaw, I saw. PAH-SHAW.

Kassie said...

Should I bother with Lit, Amy?

AmyK said...

I'm almost going to say no on Lit. There are some redeeming points, but mostly it's a story about being an alcoholic. For those who struggle with alcoholism there is certainly value in recovery stories. If you want the joie de vie combined with the pit of despair, which is what I remember for the other two memoirs, then I would say pass.

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