Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What I'm reading this week (1/16/17)

Last week I finished:

I used to think I didn't like fiction, but come to realize I just don't like contemporary fiction set in contemporary times. A prime example? Where'd You Go, Bernadette. You guys, I detested this book. My instincts told me it wasn't a good fit for me, but I was determined to finish ten "IT" books this year, and this was one I chose. I stubbornly finished it. I didn't like anything about this one: the characters, the plot, the writing, the way it was composed. Every character was written exactly the same. The plot was so improbable. It was so overwrought with emotion. It was just kind of a nasty book for me, and I doubt I'll read anything else by Maria Semple. My rating: 2 stars.

On the other side of the fence, we have William Stafford's Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems. At a poetry workshop long ago, someone told me they thought my poetry was similar to William Stafford's, so he sort of became my patron saint of poetry. This collection was the best collection I've read in years. Several of the poems are old friends, but there were plenty of new-to-me poems, too. Some of them touched me so deeply I just wanted to cry. If I read a collection this year to surpass it, I'll be very surprised. My rating: 4.5 stars.

Did you know that President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919 that left the country with a "petticoat government" when his wife, Edith, took the reins? No? Well, neither did anyone in America at the time. I really liked Madam President. Although I've read referenced to Edith Wilson's "presidency" in other books, I hadn't found a book that focused solely on it until this one. The writing is a bit amateurish, and the author references popular contemporary books throughout, which feels kind of like a college history paper, but I still enjoyed the book a lot. My rating: 3.5 stars.

Last week I started and abandoned:

Coming off of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, I was not prepared to suffer through another book that didn't engage me fully, so Dava Sobel's new The Glass Universe became my first Did Not Finish casualty of the year. I want to say for the record that there isn't anything wrong with the book, it just wasn't interesting to me. I was excited to learn a little something about astronomy, but the book felt too dry, and I found myself wandering away.

This week I continue with:

Mario Batali's Big American Cookbook is amazing in it's breadth, but still is not disappointing in the recipes chosen. I'm now to my part of the country (The Great Lakes region). So, yay.

I began Fredrik Backman's novella And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer last week, and I'm only a page or two in. Backman is the author of A Man Called Ove.

And I'm plugging away in Wonder. Wow, what a book.

My audiobook:

I'm in love with Carrying Albert Home about Hickman's (author of Rocket Boys which the film October Sky was based on) parents taking a road trip in the early 1930s to return Albert, an alligator present from Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies) to the author's mother, to Florida. It's a tall tale adventure, and it's the perfect book to listen to. I adore it.

Next up:

More presidential subterfuge: The President Is a Sick Man.

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