Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Report: End of December 2014/January 2015

Hi Friends!

Remember when you went to the library and checked out a book, and you had to pull the card out of the back pocket, sign your name and get the card stamped by the librarian?  I kind miss those days, don't you?  I loved looking at the library card to see who had checked the book out before me.  It was always a bonus if I actually knew some of the people on the card.   I remember thinking that being a librarian had to be the coolest job because they got to use a roller date stamp everyday.  (True story).


Here's a little recap on what I read at the end of December (books I read after I made my Top 15 list) and this month.

Not My Father's Son, Alan Cumming (3 1/2 stars).  Do you know Alan Cumming?  He's played a lot of quirky characters (my first memories of him are of the strange evil guy he played in the Spy Kids movie), but you probably know him from The Good Wife.  He's awesome on that show.  His memoir is awesome, too--well-written and filled with suspense and drama.  I'm not sure how I can arrange this, but I totally want to be friends with him.
Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill (4 stars).  I am a sucker for language.  I love it so much, I majored in it...twice.  Jenny Offill is a master at using just a few words to convey a whole bunch of feelings. Even her shortest sentences are filled to the brim with meaning.  This is a brilliantly written novel about marriage and love and all kinds of emotions.
Family Life, Akhil Sharma (4 stars).  Oh my gosh, friends!  This book!  It still haunts me.  It's about family and parenting and our dreams for our kids.  It's about grief and healing.  It is so, so good.
Wonderland, Stacey D'Erasmo (4 stars).  You know when you read a book and it is so well-written that it takes you to places you don't have a single clue about but the descriptions are so vivid and real that in the end you feel like you do know a bit about it?  That's how Stacey D'Erasmo's Wonderland was for me.  Stacey D'Erasmo can write.  I did not plow through this book--her sentences were just too good to just speed through, and the subject matter (once-famous Indy singer trying for a comeback) was too foreign.  I loved slowing down and entering Anna's life.
The Arsonist, Sue Miller (2 stars).  A million years ago I hosted a monthly book club.  One of my favorite books from that period of my life was Sue Miller's While I Was Gone.  I thought it was brilliant.  I keep reading Sue Miller's books hoping to find that love again.  Sadly, this isn't the book. The Arsonist is just okay.  I couldn't help feeling like it could have been something special if she just tried a bit harder. (And yes, I know that makes me sound completely snobby).
Some Luck, Jane Smiley (2 1/2 stars).  Here's what I have to say about Some Luck:  it's fine. It's not great, but it's not bad.  The truth is, not a whole heck of a lot happens in this book.  Or rather, a lot of things happen, but there's no real tension developed around the things that happen.  I spent a lot of time flipping back to the family tree at the beginning of the book to see which of the characters would end up getting married and which of the kids was the last one.  Jane Smiley plans on making this the first of a trilogy, but there wasn't enough action to make me want to see what comes next.
The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion (2 1/2 stars).  I really enjoyed Simsion's first book, The Rosie Project, especially its Sheldon Cooper-ish main character, Don Tillman.  Don is back in all of his odd glory in this book, but this time I just wasn't as into him.  Don makes a whole lot of bizarre choices in this book, even weirder than the ones he made in the first book.  This is a fun, quirky read, but it's a stretch sometimes.

Have you read anything good lately?  Please leave me your recommendations in the comments!



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