Here are the books I finished from January 1 through June 30 2019. Of particular note is that I just discovered Curtis Sittenfeld and clearly enjoy her work, since I read two of her books this period and am in the middle of a third. And then got to meet her at LitFest, along with some other wonderful authors Helen McDonald, Erika L Sanchez, Melissa Febos, and Ross Gay. Curtis was as lovely as her writing is. But…the highlight of LitFest was meeting my favorite, favorite, favorite essayist Sloane Crosley! She came right up to my table as I was enjoying the pre-panel discussion catering and we chatted for a few minutes. If I lived in NYC, I’d want to be her best friend. She’s just so cool! Continue reading →
July through December 2018
Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova
Date Finished: 7/6
Ranking Out of 10: 5
Notes: I did not enjoy the style of writing. It felt pedantic, like a parable. The story was good but it was too obviously written to inform readers about a condition rather than letting the readers enjoy a novel and make conclusions for themselves. Continue reading →
January through June 2018
Toward the end of this six-month period, I decided to start including sentences I love from these books. When I can remember to write them down, that is. I used to do the Sunday Sentence on this blog, but now think it makes more sense to include those lines directly here. So look for more of those starting with the next installment of the Book Report this December.
Title: The Boys in the Boat
Author: Daniel James Brown
Date Finished: 1/18
Format: Hard cover
Ranking Out of 10: 6
Notes: This book was full of impressive research and gave a fascinating look into the world I know nothing about. but it kept going and going. After I read about two or three races, that was enough. I didn’t need to read about eight more. I did a lot of skimming over those parts but enjoyed the human parts still. The lives of the men of the team were interesting. I also enjoyed that, although Nazi Germany was part of the setting, the book wasn’t too political. The Nazis weren’t the main point. Continue reading →
July through December 2017
Title: Four Seasons in Rome
Author: Anthony Doerr
Date Finished: 7/23
Format: Hard cover
Ranking Out of 10: 9
Notes: Ah, so beautiful. Every sentence of this book was lovely. It’s a memoir of the author’s year in Rome while writing a novel, just after his wife gave birth to twins. I am not at all interested in children or parenting, yet even though the children are featured prominently in this story, I loved it and felt I could relate. That’s how well it was written. I was immersed in he and his wife’s experiences as foreigners trying to make Italy their home. And Doerr’s use of words made me pause many, many times to consider my own feelings or form elaborate mental images of what he was seeing.
Title: Hillbilly Elegy
Author: JD Vance
Date Finished: 7/25
Ranking Out of 10: 8
Notes: This was worth the wait in the library queue. This book is a unique look at the experiences of someone growing up poor in America, someone who should have been a failure and made nothing of himself. What makes it unique are the takeaways, what the author attributes to his ultimate success in life. So many decisions, big and small, combined with circumstance. His honest yet non-judgmental look at everyone around him is refreshing and valuable too. It’s a good sociological exploration of Appalachia written in a relatable and ingestible way.
Continue reading →
Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it’s no excuse.
As we lower onto the December-cold pleather seats of the minivan, we knock hands: both of us reaching to turn on the other’s seat warmer first.
We don’t get older, we just get more detailed.
I agree to live now, live as sweetly as I can, to fill my clothes with wind and my eyes with lights, but I understand I’ll have to leave in the end.
January through June 2017
I didn’t read very much during the first half of this year. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve gone through a major life change and, as a result, haven’t had the concentration for reading that I normally do. I’ve set aside the printed word for a lot of Netflix binges. But that’s OK. Books aren’t going anywhere. Despite the grim state of civil liberties in this country we aren’t that Orwellian/Soviet…yet.
Title: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Author: Katherine Boo
Date Finished: 1/2
Ranking Out of 10: 9
Notes: Beautiful book about a group of slum dwellers in Bombay and how their lives affect one another and how they are affected by the politics of poverty. It’s hard to read at times – Boo does a great job of bringing you into the terrible reality of their characters’ lives, their struggles, and their brutality towards one another in the effort to improve their own lives. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, which is mostly why this didn’t get a perfect score. **Update: I found out about three months after I finished this that it is non-fiction. I have a hard time believing that. She knows too much about too many people’s lives and the dialogue and inner thoughts and retelling of certain situations is too vivid and real. There’s just no way half of this can’t be made up.
Author: Nathalie Sarraute
Date Finished: 1/21
Ranking Out of 10: 6
Notes: I read a few segments of this in an online flash fiction class I took a year ago and loved them. Very insightful little snippets into the lives of strangers. But I didn’t enjoy the book as much. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it, but most of the snippets seemed to abstract for me. As if they were just on the other side of the line between concrete and abstract. Some I loved – like the one about the women shopping – but others I just couldn’t get into. It’s only 52 pages, so I’ll most likely give it another chance some time. Continue reading →
So file me under acquired tastes; it may help you realize that some things are not yours to acquire.