A short comment on books I've read, written moments after finishing the story. Find me on Goodreads.
August 31 - Jean Rhys - After Leaving Mr Mackenzie - I already forget her name. Julia, or Juliette? Or was she called both? Anyways, for this woman, who relies on men for just about everything, growing older is devastating. I tell myself it's her tawdry lifestyle that prematurely aged her - she is my age! I am not old! I want to age gracefully...but what if, like Julia, I keep up little beauty rituals (in her case, compulsively powdering her nose) and deceive myself that I still got it? I mean, got what? I am really uncomfortable thinking about the day when I have lost my attractiveness...
I am also a bit obsessed with the thought that, apparently, Jean Rhys was Jackie O's favorite author. Jackie O must have deliberated about growing old and unattractive. Yet, Jackie O is still held up as a icon of style, if not beauty. People don't remember her past a certain age.
August 30 - Jean Rhys - Quartet - Oh this poor woman. That this could be someone's life. I wanted to love this book, I was prepared to crush hard...I leave it feeling a bit disturbed, a bit thankful. Add this to the list of books you should read before you take a trip to Paris.
August 23 - Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre - I like it, I don't love it. Mr Rochester is too sappy for me.
August 15 - Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea - READ THIS! This book nearly gave me a heart attack...I couldn't put it down, my eyes are practically bulging out of my head from what? adrenaline...no...just having my emotions pulled at for the last few hours. The story doesn't let you know where you stand. You feel like you are at sea a bit, reading this. This will be a book I tell everyone about ...one of my favorites. I will re read. I want to pull Jane Eyre off the shelf and start reading right now!
The house is way too dark right now! It will be hard to fall asleep!
August 13 - Heather O'Neill - Lullaby for little criminals. Another tragic childhood story with an incredibly lazy ending. Only ok to me...the section on the author's interests - and her favorite books - lead me to Jean Rhys (see above)
August 9 - John O'Hara - Appointment in Samarra - it picks up the pace about halfway in, and moves faster and faster until the inevitable ending. i love the author's writing, takes you inside the character's thoughts. Stream of consciousness that hits you with its repetition and simplicity.
August 8 - Michael Pollan - Omnivore's Dilemma - The first two sections were informative. The third part on Hunting and gathering was the pits.
July 28 - Sherwood Anderson - Winesburg, Ohio - The pace was a little slow...the book often put me to sleep...there are truths in his stories that I had to underline, they would sneak up on me, and I would say to myself: YES, YES! That is exactly how it feels...Yes! How could it be that he understands me so perfectly...
June 11 - 21 - Foundation Series - Asimov - Ugh...
June 11 - I, Claudius - Robert Graves - I was intrigued, yet the novel always put me to sleep. Sure I am shaking off a ridiculous cold, but the writing made me snooze.
Blindness - Jose Saramago - Great read, although there is no punctuation, and sometimes the translation reads awkward. Not as dark as I was expecting. It was not the blindness that did them in, it was the fear of blindness, no? I mean, everyone kept thinking they would be ok until it happened to them too - no one was prepared for it. Perhaps there wasn't time. Of course, I think, what would I do in this scenario? But I can't imagine it happening to me.
June 3 - The Secret Garden - Francis Hodgson Burnett - Oh my! I am buying this for all the nieces for Christmas this year! I wish I had read this when I was 5, or 15, or even 25...what a magical story!!! If you haven't read this yet, just pick it up and enjoy a sweet tale!!!
May 31 - A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway - Loved it! If you love wandering around Paris - this book is for you. If you love drinking and gambling, also for you!
May 30 - The Paris Wife - Paula McLain - Terrible writing. I was getting hung up on her flowery sentences. About 2/3rds into the book it started to get good.
May 25 - High Fidelity - Nick Hornby - I needed a change after that last book. Something light and entertaining!
May 22 - The Bastard Out of Carolina - Dorothy Allison - I was expecting gritty...this was raw. Raw emotion. I wanted to reach into the story and protect Bone. The writing is outstanding. I think this may be one of my favorite styles. Although I don't know how to define a writing style. There was no block between what she was saying and the words she used. You know how some stories you get a bit hung up translating exactly what they mean? Pauses, contemplation, over even the simplest paragraphs? There was none of that...the words flow into you.
May 17 - Their eyes were watching God - Zora Neale Hurston - Great book. I enjoyed reading Janie's story, her strength. I loved the banter.
May 6 - The Call of the Wild - Jack London - This book surprised me. I mean, it's from a dog's point of view, and I am not a dog person...a great quick read.
May 3 - Rebecca - Daphne DuMaurier - Loved this book! I will buy up every used copy I can get my hands on and pass them out to friends. A suspense novel so well written you can't put it down, you are held by the story until the very last sentence.
April 28 - A boy of good breeding - Miriam Toews - Loved it! She is a favorite...can do no wrong!
April 22 - East of Eden - John Steinbeck - Slow beginning but strong ending!!! and thank god that's over! Quite a masterpiece! The story cuts inside deep at times, making you pause and contemplate, and yet, I didn't feel anything for any of the characters except Lee. I wanted to really love it, but reading it felt like work.
April - 18 - Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane - Haunted. I don't know how this story came from the author's imagination. I read a few pages every night because it was not a subject I wanted to devote myself to. Not to mention the writing was outdated/stiff/formal, forcing you to translate each sentence.
April 13 - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce - I really liked this story. I cried like a baby at the ending. My eyes are still puffy as I type this!
April 11 - I Remember Nothing - Nora Ephron - Sad, now that she is gone. She is a great storyteller! I am surprised how much I related to, given that she is writing from her point of view, at the end of her life. I guess that's what makes her books so readable. I can't think 30 years ahead, I can't picture what life will look like as it winds down. Nora helps me realize not much is different - well, except being older!
50 - April 10 - Heartburn - Nora Ephron - Yes, I read two Ephron books in one day. This book wasn't terrible, but definitely not what I was hoping for. There was a lot of stories that were repeated in 'I feel bad about my neck', which took away from the story for me (she worded each almost identically.) It was too early in my Ephron reading to have so much repetition. The books were written decades apart though.
49 - April 10 - I feel bad about my neck - Nora Ephron - Perhaps this wasn't the obvious first choice of Ephron books. I really enjoyed it. You can read it in under 3hrs, easily.
48 - April 9 - Arthur & George - Julian Barnes - Really difficult to get through. At least it turned into a who-dunnit halfway through. This book was almost unbearable.
47 - April 2 - Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella - I am not sure why I continue to read this series. This book was the worst. Almost not even fun anymore!
46- Mar 20 - The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls - Frustrating. I wanted to straigthen out those incredibly selfish parents!
45- Mar 17 - A Year in the Merde - Stephen Clarke - Just enough Paris in it to keep me interested.
44 - Mar 15 - The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath - I read the first sentence out loud, to my husband, three times in a row. I was hooked. Midway through, I started to handle the book carefully, as if IT were fragile. The somehow her illness fells sane, at least, questioning society's expectations or norms seems natural, but it throws her off balance.
I've never given poetry even half a chance. When a protagonist in a story quotes poetry, I speed read through to get to the point.
43 - Mar 7 - My Antonia - Willa Cather - Pretty writing, idealizes prairie life, a little dull.
42 - Feb 28 - About a Boy - Nick Hornby - Now I have to watch the movie!
41 - Feb 26 - Z for Zachariah - Robert. C O'Brien - I picked it up after lunch and finished it by 8:30pm the same day. Loved it. It is young adult, so very easy to read. Keeps you on edge!
40 - Feb 26 - The End of Your Life Book Club - Will Schwalbe - I admire his mother's character and the richness of her life. The way she reaches out to people is remarkable. I want to jump into her story and carry on with her causes. I want to learn how I can help and make a difference. Even though this book is about dying, it's also about living - really living! Uplifting!I found the writing a bit flat. The dialogue didn't feel natural. He reasserts his theme of 'our book club' over and over. In this case I have to separate the story (wonderful) from the writing.
39 - Feb 23 - Dune - Frank Herbert - This is my fourth or fifth time reading it. If you like Star Wars or Game of Thrones you will love Dune - both borrow heavily from it. Two things always nag at me when I read this novel: the first is how frequently he mentions his terrible purpose; the second is his inconsistent relationship with his mother in the second half of the book. There are so many books I want to read, but do I have the time to squeeze in the entire Dune series?
38 - Feb 12 - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain - What an adventure!
37 - Feb 5 - The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Leguin - Not my favorite. Interesting concept, interesting plot, but some parts were weak. For example, when they fell in love, it felt as if it was described by a 14 year old boy and his idea of falling in love (I almost put the book down at that point and walked away). She provided detail about the two worlds, still they never came alive in my mind. To me, they were on Arrakis (minus the sand worms), not Anarres. I wish the story was told in chronological order because I may have started to care about the main character. The way it was split up, half of the chapters told in the past, I was curious, but not attached.
(Photo coming soon!)
36 - Jan 29 - The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom - Sweet. I could see how this would be comforting if you have lost a loved one. It wasn't as hoaky as, say, the Celestine Prophecy. Just a sweet little story!
35 - Jan 29 - Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf - A warm day in June 1923, the day of Clarissa Dalloway's party. V.W's stream of consciousness writing shifts from character to character, revealing their inner thoughts as they converse, or go about ordinary tasks. Each sentence must be digested slowly- her writing is art.
34 - Jan 26 - The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupery - What a sweet little story. I read parts of it out loud to my son. I am too often concerned with 'matters of consequence'...
33 - Jan 24 - The Flying Troutmans - Miriam Toews - Wonderful broken characters, who face everyday life's tragedies and joy. I love all of Miriam's books. She writes about people that you might cross the street to avoid - not exactly mainstream...but they are human.
32 - Jan 22 - Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood - I liked the story, but felt let down by the ending. Fairly predictable. Entertaining.
31 - Jan 16 - Black Swan Green - David Mitchell - At first, I couldn't get into the story. Solarium was my favorite chapter, and the turning point. From there it took me a day to finish.
This statement, from a teacher to the student body, stayed with me: "I also hope you will consider what is truly precious in your own lives, and what is merely... flimflam... grandstanding... froth... posturing... egotism" There is so much wisdom in this book. Each chapter is a lesson learned.
30 - Jan 5 - Funny Boy - Shyam Selvadurai - This is not a book I expected to enjoy! Yet I couldn't put the book down - 24 hour turn-around! A coming of age story of a gay Tamil boy during the political upheaval in Sri Lanka. The story was foreign, yet its humanity reached out to me. The novel left a strong impression on me and I know something inside me has changed.
29 - Jan 4 - Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland - I liked it until the ending. I liked it's God message, but it felt thrusted upon you right at the end.
28 - Jan 3 - Shopaholic & Baby - Sophie Kinsella - This is the fifth Shopaholic and I have enjoyed them all! So entertaining! Just be prepared to snort and mutter 'AS IF!" several times while reading it. I hope to find the sixth book, Mini Shopaholic, in a second hand bookstore...or maybe I can sign it out of the library (these books aren't keepers)....wait, does the library carry chick lit?
27 - Dec 31 - The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid - This book goes on my recommended list. Hamid's style of writing, that is, his one long monologue, drew me in. He is a gifted story teller. His point of view and the change the character under goes captivated me. The ending - oh my - read it and then lets talk about that ending!
26 - Dec 29 - Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe - Sad - but not emotionally charged (at least I didn't need to pull out the kleenex box). It's a story about a tribal culture being rubbed out by white man, yet the book doesn't pass judgement. It is a narration of what will be (has been) lost. The story follows the life of a flawed character - a member of the clan. You don't agree with his choices, but you also can't agree with the outcome. Such a waste.
25 - Dec 21 - All That Matters - Wayson Choy - I liked the glimpse of old china ways. The first half of the story is great - Kiam Kim is young and figuring out his place in the family. During the second half of the book, the war and teenage years, my interest dropped off.
24 - Dec 17 - The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides. - This novel tries to identify why five sisters would commit suicide. There is something seductive about watching the young girls' lives decay from a distance, never getting too close to their pain.
23 - Dec 14 - Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie- I want to read this with my son, but I think he is a bit young still...
22 - Dec 11- Gods of Gotham - Lyndsay Faye - Well done! It's 1845 and you are prowling the streets of NYC, before it became the NYC we know! The story pulls you along, giving you answers and new questions in each chapter.
21 - Dec 3 - A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - I loved reading this. Even if you know the story (of course you know the story), it is a great book to cuddle up with and read!
20 - Dec 2 - World War Z - Max Brooks - I couldn't put this book down...I wanted to hurry up and finish it so that I could promptly forget it (because of the nightmares, of course)...the book wasn't too gorey. I found myself googling everything related to zombies to see if it really could happen. It felt too real. Too close to home in places!
19 - Dec 1 - Let's Pretend this Never Happened - Jenny Lawson - Some hilarious parts, but after a while you do get sick of reading about her social awkwardness, her vagina, the zombie apocalypse, all the ways to drop an f-bomb, and the way she talks to her husband.
18 - Nov 29 - A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray - A young adult book best left to 15 year olds. Gossip Girl meets Dan Brown meets Harry Potter meets that TV show with Shannon Doherty and Alissa Milano meets.... I guess what I mean to say is, it is terribly influenced! It doesn't feel like it is set in Victorian England, besides from the fact that they are ripping off their corsets every few chapters. Gemma's inner dialogue felt too contemporary, which, for me, made the setting less convincing.
17 - Nov 26 - Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour An Introduction - J. D. Salinger - This was my final 'new' Salinger. Now I have to content myself with re-reading his work. I loved the first story. The dialogue, detail ("I remember considering, halfway across the room, going back and picking up two ice cubes that were on the floor, but it seemed too arduous an undertaking, and I continued along to the hall."), and the Glass family.
16 - Nov 25 - Juliet, Naked - Nick Horby - Great book! The characters are fun, but real. The writing is comfortable (not forced, not trying to be art, easy to read). I enjoyed the theme, celebrity vs reality. Now I want to read his other novels!
15 - Nov 22 - The Postmistress - Sarah Blake - It felt like two stories, jammed together. It really didn't work for me. I only wanted to read about Frankie.
14 - Nov 20- Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton - Tragic. you know from the onset of the story that life has not been kind. You experience Ethan's bashfulness and butterflies, while waiting for the ax to fall. Depressing.
13 - Nov 19 - Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn - Fluff, convenient plot devices, little dimension, far-fetched, and suffers from a case of 'you call that an ending?'...No
12 - Nov 17 - A Feast for Crows - George RR Martin - Only Ok. I think I will stop with Feast and skip rereading A Dance with Dragons (it is still fresh enough in my mind). I sped through this book, just to get to the end. I realized what a needy reader I've become!! I want so much from this story! I hope Martin can deliver. I need answers. I want justice. I want to see the Dragons kick some butt! Maybe Dany can fly to Westeros without her army...please? and Jon Snow...
11 - Nov 11 - A Storm of Swords - George R R Martin - The best of the series so far!
10 - Oct 30 - To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf - Beautifully written. You have to be determined to read this book, if you are, you will enjoy it! I explores that space between people. For the first several pages, your head swims, as you go from one person's thoughts to another to another, sometimes in the same paragraph. It is unlike anything else I have ever read. I will read more of her work - after the room stops spinning!
9 - Oct 23 - A Room Of One's Own - Virginia Woolf - Every woman should read this book.
8 - Oct 19 - A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin - Second read...just as good as the first time - maybe even better!
7 - October 4 - summer of my amazing luck - Miriam Toews. A beautiful story where not much happens. Moms will get it. I love this author, she can do no wrong!
6 - September 29 - The hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, The The Mystery Knight - George R.R. Martin. I was tickled when I learned of the existence of these novellas! They are short; well written; full of new characters. I couldn't keep all the Targaryens straight. I highly recommend them if you are a Game of Thrones fan!
5 - September 25 - The Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin - The first time I read this book I was still in University. We watched the HBO series season 1 and season 2 and I can't get Westeros (and Jon Snow) out of my mind.
4 - September 10 - The Rainbow - Pearl S. Buck - I am stuck in a book rut. This was not the story to pull me out of it. I pictured Kristen Stewart in this role. I never thought of actors the way they were portrayed in this novel, and now I won't be able to think of them the same way.
3 - Aug 14 - Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler - A book that invites discussion...I think it is perfect for a book club!
2 - Aug 12 - Insurgent - Veronica Roth - Disappointing.
1 - Jul 1 - On the Road - Jack Kerouac - I am definitely too conservative to really dig this book (Galatea is my girl). I wish I had read it in my twenties...There are passages that I thought were insightful, and overall the book rang true. A generation captured on paper the way no photograph could convey. "I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lived, or actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road."
June 20 - The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman - The only book out of the last 50 or so that I recommended to my husband. We both enjoyed it!
June 14 - The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton - I stalled reading this. I wanted Lily to rise above her vanity, I wanted so desperately for Seldon to save her...every time that didn't happen I took a short break from the novel, only to be drawn back in to see what happens. This is an amazing story. Her character is human (so completely, not a "type" of person, a person). You feel like you are personally remembering the opening scene during the last few pages, as if they are your own memories. I struggle with whether it really was her fault, it seems so easy to blame upbringing, or the times...I want her to be more, because she is capable of more..or maybe I am projecting.
May 25 - MockingJay - Suzanne Collins - Worst of the three (rambling, Katniss seems weak and whiny, I like Peeta better afterwards though)...it will probably make a good movie and video game...
May 24 - Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins - One thing is for sure...it is nearly impossible to put these books down once you start!
May 23 - The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins - This was my second read...I wanted to refresh my memory, then finally read books 2 & 3.
May 21 - Cosmopolis - Don DeLillo - Like eavesdropping on madness. This book needs to be read twice.
May 17 - The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum - What a beautiful imagination! The heaps of headless shaggy wolves and dead birds is a bit much...do kids still watch the movie?
May 11 - Bossypants - Tina Fey - I like her brand of feminism...it isn't 'I'm a woman, here me roar', more like 'Thank God I'm me, not YOU!'...I wish I could be her for a day, that's for sure!
May 3 - Irma Voth - Miriam Toews...this is the second book I've read by M.Toews...I now want to read everything she ever puts on paper! Fan, I am!
April 30 - The Sometimes Daughter - Sherri Wood Emmons - I feel like I have read this before...the characters are ones I feel like I've encountered in movies and other books...I know it is harsh but, it didn't feel very 'original'...
April 25 -Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl. - I enjoyed the story telling bits, but didn't connect to the psychology. Wasn't a moving experience for me....felt like homework.
April 25 - Divergent - Veronica Roth - This book kept me up last night as I read 'just one more chapter', then another, and another....teen drama and rumblings of a revolution, set in the future with ridiculously impossible technology...what's not to love!
April 19 - Perfume - Patrick Suskund. Bizarre...Twisted...Gets under your skin
April 17 - Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea - L.M. Montgomery. Thoroughly charmed with Anne of Green Gables but the second book felt forced (and took me forever to read).
March 26 - Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson. I couldn't put it down...a little repetitive, well, she does have amnesia so a little repetition is expected.
March 24 - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris. A very entertaining read! A bunch of essays that poke fun at himself, his family, and back in the day... we bonded over his neat-freakness!
March 22 - Room - Emma Donoghue - Over rated. I finished it, but Jack's narration just bugged me. His observations almost made it worth reading.
March 17 - Nine Stories - J.D. Salinger - Perfection! I'm wordless.
March 16 - Heaven is for Real - Todd Burpo - This book is only 155 pages long, but I must have rolled my eyes at least 500 times while reading it...
March 14 - your voice in my head - Emma Forrest - Gifted writer...I was pulling for her...I couldn't put the book down until I reached the end and I knew she was ok
Mar 9 - The Last Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko - fun book if you read the first three (and you are into Russian Vampires)... super easy reading, brainless...take it with you on an overseas flight and read it before you land.
Jan 31 - The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi - I raced through the pages to find out what would happen next...and then, all of a sudden, it was over (completely OVER), and I am not completely satisfied. I want more...
Jan 20- An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser - After a slow start, the book was hard to put down - I carried Clyde, and his conscience, with me everywhere