Award winners, Books, Uncategorized

Book Catch-Up

I have been rather lax lately in blogging/reviewing.  I am feeling the close of summer almost palpably, with school starting for me and my daughter in two weeks. My reading time is going to be next to nothing, and computer time will replace that.  So, I’ve been eschewing my computer a little more than usual and trying to finish some books on my TBR.  I’m going to briefly review these now, starting with what I just finished:

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion.  First written in 1977, this book was re-released in 1995.  I first heard of this book in The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwabe; his mother carried around a copy and marked her favorite passages.  That fact has stuck with me for months now, and when I saw this on a shelf as I walked in the library a few weeks ago, it was almost as if a golden shaft of sunlight had hit that book, just so I would check it out. I picked it up this morning, and finished it a short while ago.  The book was engaging and written beautifully, in the sparse style I so love.  I love when no words are wasted and the author just delivers a whallop to you without delay.  Great book!

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.  It pains me to write such a brief review of a Stephen King’s most recent novel, but it pains me no less than it does to admit that I struggled to get through this one.  It was more of a detective/police procedural novel, and did not blow me away like I usually expect from King.  At times, I actually forgot I was reading Stephen King and thought I was reading another author or two. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman.  I have seen this book before, of course, but it wasn’t until recently when I heard it was banned by a school due to masturbation discussion, that I thought well, any book worth banning is worth reading.  The fact that it is a National Book Award winner also struck me, and now that I have read it, I wonder how on Earth I have missed it?!  I loved this book, it was heartwarming and funny, but it was sad and made me mad that racism is still so prevalent in our country.  There were some comparisons in the book that really made me think. This is one of those books that the anti-YA-books snobs should really read – since their argument is that YA literature does not challenge adults or is not thought provoking, they should definitely read this one.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. When I finished this book, I finished my self-challenge of reading every book on the Time Magazine Best Fiction Books of 2013.  This book is a graphic novel about Nord, an ancient civilization at the top of the world. I love folktales and mythology, and this book was so enchanting.  The artwork was magnificent and many of the characters were hilarious.

Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch.  I had this book on my TBR list, because it kept popping up everywhere, then a friend mentioned it, based on an NPR interview or review he heard.  Then, as luck would have it, I walked into the library and there it was!  Well, the book is about Marc, a general physician in Denmark. Marc is really somewhat despicable, but that is conflicting, because for every bad thing he does, it seems there is a softer side of him as well.  The story is fascinating, and it was especially fascinating to get a glimpse into a medical environment not quite like America’s.  But, for all that, I did not care much for the book – I “liked” it not “loved” it.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.  I suppose most people find it odd that I like fiction and non-fiction alike about endemics and pandemics, but I had a class a few years back about the history of plagues and pestilence.  With grad school starting, this is a subject I am considering exploring for a thesis, in some shape, form, or fashion.  That being said, when I started researching novels about plague or disease, this one was at the top of the list ninety percent of the time.  I loved this book, I loved that it was irreverent in a way most books about the 1600’s are not, and loved how that shocked me.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  There’s really not a lot to be said about this book.  I hate that I have missed so much of Gaiman, but he is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  I love how this book is so dark and engrossing; it’s not terrifying to me as so many reviewers said it was, but it did have some quite frightening scenes. I loved the mythology and folklore wrapped up in it, but I adored how satirical it was about American society, which is all to happy to toss aside anything once the next big thing shows up.  Definitely a great book!

And, I think that has me where I need to be!  Happy reading everyone!


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