I reread a few Travis McGee novels for fun this month but wanted to focus on the new reads because so many of them were excellent. It really was just a great month for me when it came to books.
An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
John Green drives me crazy. I love him and I can’t stand him in equal measure which is also the problem I have with his protagonists. They always fit the same mold – very smart, quick witted, and always with some oddball hobby. In this one, we have a (former) child prodigy who anagrams and dates Katherines and is scared he’ll never “matter”. He’s both a sympathetic character and someone I want to hit over the head. And I feel this way about every single protagonist John Green writes. And I get so annoyed that I just want to quit John Green but he’s just so good. The man can turn a phrase and leave me breathless or laughing at his insight. So basically, I have a complete love/hate relationship with him and his protagonists which is best summed up in this review by Jules and I think everyone should read him.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chobsky
I came across quite a few reviews on goodreads that really blasted this book for the writing (it was written in first person and the narrator’s voice seemed far too young/naive for his actual age) and the multitude of heavy topics it covered (sexual and physical abuse, homosexuality, drug use, rape are all touched on and probably a few more I’m forgetting). I loved it and gave it a five star rating but also understand why others might not feel that way. The writing is choppy and it is not a book that addresses one heavy topic and shines an in depth light on it. The discussion about whether the narrator is autistic or challenged in some way seems reasonable but I don’t know that there is really a lot of evidence to support that in the book (besides the naiveté and style of writing). At one point it seemed as if his counselor and family knew of an issue he was facing and other times it seemed as if they were as in the dark as he was (I’m being purposely vague as to avoid spoilers) which didn’t seem to make sense, but I also loved it and would recommend it.
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
This is probably my favorite book all month. I sat down with it before going to bed and stayed up until I finished it. It was that good. It was a five star book, but I would have given it ten. The story is moving, the characters are so well written and believable, and if they really do make it into a movie and get the rights to all the songs – the soundtrack will be UNBELIEVABLE. (I’m tempted to make a playlist with the different music referenced in the book). I’ve heard rumors that there will be sequel set a few years after the ending but I don’t know if I’d pick that up. Not because I don’t want to know how the author envisions the rest of the story, but simply because I love how and where it ended.
Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
This book was suggested by a friend who has officially become my book guru. I have to not love something she’s recommended. It’s a hard book to explain but the title sums up the themes and the characters perfectly. It’s breathtaking and probably my second favorite that I read this month so you should just believe me and read it.
The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
Ehh. I might have liked this more had I read it more consistently but I just couldn’t get into so I would have to put it down and then I would pick it up and not remember how everything all tied together and I’d have to read back aways and to get the feel again and then I’d read it and get annoyed and put it down again. It was well written and it made some very interesting points but it was just depressing. And never seemed to go anywhere. And I couldn’t find one likeable character in the whole book which made it almost impossible to stomach for any length of time.
The American Heiress – Daisy Goodwin
This was another okay read but one I wouldn’t have read if I knew what I know about it now. It wasn’t bad but the story line didn’t mesh as well as it could have and it seemed like a badly ripped off Rebecca with a spoiled rich girl as a main character instead of a girl who came from less fortunate means. The Englishman with a secret was there, the cross signals and missed meanings were there, but it never really gelled or even made much sense to me. To be fair, I may have liked it more if I hadn’t been reading such excellent books throughout the month, but it certainly didn’t hold up.
Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace – Michael Perry
I adore Michael Perry’s writing. Maybe because he’s from the great state of Wisconsin and his first memoir happened to be based in the same town as my husband’s cabin so I connected with the references. Maybe it’s because he can turn a phrase. Maybe it’s because he’s capable of highlighting the things that are important without hitting you over the head. Maybe it’s because he reminds me of an old-timer and I like old-timers. Either way, I’ve read every single memoir he’s written and there isn’t a single one that I wouldn’t recommend. And this one especially.
The One and Only Ivan – Katherine Applegate
Wow. I read this book in a couple of hours and it was good. I wanted to see if I could read it to V and I probably could get away with it, but it made me cry in a couple of different places so I’ll probably wait a little bit (there are plenty of other books for me to read to her in the meantime).
It’s inspired me to add one “children’s” book on my reading list each month. I’m thinking next month I’ll read A Wrinkle in Time. We read it in fifth grade and I don’t remember liking it. In fact, I don’t remember anything about it. I think I might have been a bit too young for it then so I’m going to give it another try. While I’m reading that, I think you should read this.
So now it’s your turn – what have you read lately? Do you have any recommendations?