Monday, May 9, 2016

What I'm reading this week (5/9/16)

Last week I finished:

The Summer before the War wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I loved it. Well, "love" might be strong considering it's not a very warm, fuzzy-feeling book (this is, after all, a book about World War I--one of the bloodiest wars ever fought), but it was well-written, the characters were well-fleshed, the dialogue was good, etc. The plot was slight, but this is more of a slice-of-life book than anything. If the home front is what you like best about war books, this is perfect for you. It would make a good book to sink into in the summertime, I think.

I also finished The Road Not Taken, an examination of Frost's iconic American poem of the same title. This slim volume does an awful lot. In addition to some biographical info on Frost, we gain insight into the American psyche and what choice means to us as a culture, but we never get around to what the poem is trying to say (but hint: it's not what thousands of high school valedictorian speeches would have us believe). It did bog down in places (and that's saying something for a book that's not even 200 pages), and I was disappointed that we never did get to the bottom of the matter (what IS the poem saying?), but overall, I enjoyed the experience, if nothing more than for the chance to read a reasoned argument; ever since college graduation, those are scarce.

Last week I gave up on:

Well, I've abandoned my first two books of the year. There are so many books I really want to read, and that made severing ties much easier.

I wanted to love Wynton Marsalis's Moving to Higher Ground, but I'm not sure I was his intended audience. Perhaps I gave up too soon (that's always the risk, isn't it?), but I was no longer looking forward to reading it, so I stopped.

I also gave up on Shauna Niequist's Savor. I generally enjoy her books (I've read them all, and there's another coming out later this year), which are faith-based. But, I think another blogger hit the nail on the head for me recently when she said she thought Niequist is just too emotional for some readers. She's a deep-diver into woman-y issues, and when you add faith to that, the books can often get weighed down with sentiment when they're meant to uplift. Add to this the fact that Niequist and I don't share a common set of beliefs about religion and God and Jesus--beyond the basics--and you have a recipe for dissatisfaction. Plus, this book is a devotional page-a-day book, which tend to annoy me in general. Many people really enjoyed her last book, Bread and Wine, essays about faith, food, and family. I enjoyed her earlier books more (though they do tend toward emotional writing), Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. I do still plan to read her forthcoming book, Present over Perfect.

Last week I began:

Oh Harry Potter, will you and I become friends? I'm having trouble getting into Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, what with all the names and terms and the fact that I'm not in any stretch a fan of fantasy. But I'm giving it a go. I can already acknowledge that Rowling is a gifted writer, and likely a genius to boot. But then anyone who can create a functioning otherworld just blows me away. I don't have that gene. I apparently even lack the gene to understand another's otherworld.

How to Build a Car, on the other hand, is kind of fascinating. It's a young-middle-grade reader about a trio of friends who decide to build a car. The illustrations are beautiful, and there are lots of illustrations where they break down carburetors and the like.

This week I'll be reading:

This week I continue with:

Don't be surprised if Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country is on my Top Ten list at the end of the year. I'm enjoying it so doggone much. Sometimes I wish I was reading it instead of listing to it, but then I'd miss out on Bryson's dry delivery which cracks me up. (His bit on cricket matches had me in stitches.) So maybe I'll read it after I finish the audio to fulfill my "Re-read a book within twelve months of its first reading" 2016 goal.

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