At the core of my self-defined self, I am a reader. But in the last year, I found myself going through a period where I just couldn’t get into a book. At all. I was terrified that something in my brain had switched and one of my largest personality markers (along with drinking insane amounts of water) would forever be changed. I was knitting and (gasp) watching TV, but I just wasn’t enjoying books. Then I went through a knitting break and settled back into my first true love. Currently, I’m trying to find a way to balance both hobby loves and do the other important things – like put dinner on the table and get the wash in. I really need to find away to read and knit at the same time, but it’s just beyond me. Anyway, here are a few of the titles I’ve read since my return.
Dead Ever After – Charlaine Harris – I know there was a huge outcry against how this ended but I have to say, I get it. I also get why there were a lot of people up in arms. I’m not going to give any spoilers because I know a few friends are saving it for their vacation read but I do have a few thoughts:
1- I read it in an afternoon.
2- I was amazingly disappointed.
3- It was basically a novel long epilogue
4- Lots of story-line inconsistency.
I don’t expect great literature from Sookie novels. I like them because they are craptastic fun. This one was just crap. And seal sex? No. Just no.
The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach – Having lived close to where the fictional Westish College was located, my brain registered alarm every time the shopping mall in Door County was registered. Knowing that there is no shopping mall in Door County is a small thing and one that probably shouldn’t have bothered me nearly as much as it did, but it did. Alarm bells SCREAMED at the end because (I’m trying to avoid spoilers) it simply seemed completely impossible that people would do that. Besides the weird grave robber ending and the shopping mall in Door County, I loved the story. The characters amazed me, especially the “supporting” characters – Owen Dunne (the main characters roommate) and Mike Schwartz (the mentor of sorts) in particular. I’d definitely recommend it.
Valley of the Dolls – Jacqueline Susann – I couldn’t give a review better than this if I stayed up half the night trying to tell you all about the sex, drugs, social climbing and one dimensional characters. And while the book is most definitely not the caliber of F. Scott’s Great Gatsby, it is fun. Is it for everyone? No. Would I bring the title up in my bookish circle of friends? No. But it is guilty pleasure fun -throw it in the beach bag, drink a few vodka tonics with lime, and soak up some sun. It’s great for the summer.
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery – This is one of the books recommended from the “read 20 books by 20 friends” list. (I’m still about 10 people short, so if you’ve got a title and you haven’t shared it with me, please feel free to put in the comments section.) The story is quick. It makes good use of allegory. I think it would make a solid way to illustrate metaphor to growing readers. It’s a book I’m glad to own and I’m sure I’ll flip through it again and mark some thoughts in the margin, but it’s a book I think I would have enjoyed if I had been introduced when I was much younger. (Which might be why the author says children should be very understanding of grown ups).
The Stand – Stephen King – I read The Shining in high school. I was such a scaredy cat that I used to put my Bible on top of it in the hopes that it would keep the big baddies inside the book. And stopped reading Stephen King. But The Stand was one of my 20 recommended books and I thought I’d give it a try. It reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” but with paranormal activity, a few too many anal sex references, and whole lot of skeeze. It wasn’t scary (big plus) but it was very, very twisted and it ruined an otherwise great story for me. Since I’m not a Stephen King fan, I can’t say for certain, but if felt as if the seedier elements were written to cater to a certain reader and not necessarily for the story. If you take away that aspect, I found a really great story with great themes, but you also take away half the book. So I’m going to say McCarthy’s “The Road” is the way to go if you are looking for post-apocalyptic storyline.
Stiff – Mary Roach – Of all the books I read this month, this was my favorite. It was funny, smart, and full of interesting information. As a person who tends to get queasy, there were parts of this book that I had to skim through quite quickly but for the most part, it really was much more fascinating than off putting. For a book about cadavers, I’d say that’s quite a feat. Now that I’ve read it, I can honestly say I have no idea what I want done with my body when I’ve used it up, but she does give a pretty good case for letting it be used elsewhere.
So what good books have you been reading lately? Anything you can recommend?