The Half Year Book Report (#3)

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

Finished: Yes

Format: Kindle

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.

 

Title: Tropisms

Author: Nathalie Sarraute

Date Finished: 1/21

Finished: Yes

Format: Paperback

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 →

The End of Year Book Report (#2)

July through December 2016

Title: The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House

Author: Adrian Tinniswood

Date Finished: 7/3

Finished: ~ish

Format: Hard cover

Ranking Out of 10: 6

Notes: I wasn’t as in to this book as I thought I’d be. I have an obsession with English (and Irish and Scottish, etc) country houses but mostly I just like the pictures. I skimmed through the whole book, reading tidbits here and there that caught my eye. But really I just want to look at the pictures. There was one consistent reference for the pictures in the book – a magazine called Country Life. They have a picture archive. This makes me happy! http://www.countrylifeimages.co.uk/

 

Title: Beautiful Ruins

Author: Jess Walter

Date Finished: 7/16

Finished: Yes

Format: Audio

Ranking Out of 10: 6

Notes: This book was entertaining and clever the way the author pulled Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton into the story without it really being about them. I’m not into celebrity culture at all. There was one character who I couldn’t figure out why the author kept including so much in the story. In became clear towards the end of the book, but for a long time, I just kept thinking “who cares?” Overall, the story was kind of sappy, not my usual reading material, but good summertime reading. Continue reading →

The End of Year Book Report (#1)

There’s quite a gap between the last date in the January – June report, but I was reading! I just had about 8 books going at once. And some short stories. And The Paris Review. Anyways, here’s the last six months worth of notes.

 

Title: Drop City

Author: T. C. Boyle

Date Finished: 7/16

Finished: Yes

Format: Paperback

Ranking Out of 10: 6

Notes: I read this because I was reading a few books that took place in Alaska in anticipation of my trip to Alaska. And I had never heard of T. C. Boyle until I read something of his in a workshop at Lighthouse Writers Workshop just last month, so this seemed like a good choice. It was enjoyable – clearly I enjoyed it because I finished it – but I’m kind of wondering what the big deal is. Why did it win some award? This book was different in that it had a plot, but it didn’t. It’s really somewhere in between genre and literary fiction. I was wondering almost to the end where the story was going and what the point was, but it did come to a satisfactory conclusion. I was more interested in the story of the couple in Alaska than in the story of the hippies at the commune, and I was a bit disappointed that the story of the couple kind of petered out throughout the book. About the writing – if you read my blog, you know that I participate in David Abram’s Sunday Sentence. But I didn’t select anything from this book for that. Not that I didn’t enjoy the writing – to the contrary, there were a lot of amazing phrases. But that’s the problem, they were phrases in longer sentences. Lots of really cool phrases but he writes long, long sentences that bury the cool stuff in average phrases. And if you know anything about me, you know I’m a stickler for rules and order, so I just can’t post a phrase as my Sunday sentence. I just can’t do it.

 

Title: Lit

Author: Mary Karr

Date Finished: 7/26

Finished: Yes

Format: Paperback

Ranking Out of 10: 6

Notes: I can’t believe one person can have three memoirs. Clearly there must be something worth reading there, but maybe I picked the wrong one to start with. Well, that’s not entirely fair. I was very much into this book for the first half. And then I just completely lost interest. It’s hard to pinpoint why. Maybe it was just too much religious stuff, but I think my interest started to wan before she really got into her struggles with coming to terms with accepting God. I don’t know. I enjoyed it for awhile, but I don’t feel any need to pick up one of her other memoirs. Continue reading →