Monday, February 6, 2017

What I'm reading this week (2/6/17)


Last week I finished:



 

Fredrik Backman (of A Man Called Ove fame) released a novella last fall called And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, a semi-autobiographical book about a parent/grandparent's struggle with dementia. The book is beautifully written, poignant, and a touch magical. It's a sad book, especially if you've been touched by Alzheimer's, but it's never manipulative or maudlin. I marked so many passages, I might as well have marked the whole book. I recommend this one, if you have a box of tissues close by. My rating: 4 stars.

I read another short book, We Should All Be Feminists, for one of my 2017 mini-challenges to "read a book that will rile me up." I was disappointed, but not for the reason I thought I'd be. As I understand it, this book came from a Ted Talk done by the author. I expected a much more ardent view, something that would likely make me bristle, but it was rather dispassionate. I think the problem is it was written from a Nigerian's experience to an American audience. There's a difference between Americans and Nigerians when it comes to gender and society. The examples she sited from Nigerian culture are things women here fought against in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I expected a real strong, coherent argument with specific points, but the book was just a general "we must do better" plea. I didn't get much out of it, and it definitely didn't rile me up. My rating: 3 stars.

This weekend I finished my audio of the second No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book, Tears of the Giraffe. It was every bit as wonderful as the first. I'm so sorry it took me so long to discover these books, what I've read so far has been wonderful. In this book, Mma Ramotswe's fianc√©,  Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, adopts two orphans without discussing it with her first, and Mma Ramotswe gets to the bottom of a missing persons case, the trail ten years cold. Another wonderful installment. My rating: 4.5 stars.
 

Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., passed on in 2006. Her book, My Life, My Love, My Legacy was written from interviews given to Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds over several decades. I enjoyed the first half, covering her life with Dr. King, their marches for civil rights, and her experiences of black life in the south. The second half of the book focused on activism in more recent times and the building of the King Center in Atlanta, and I just lost interest. It's unsafe these days for a white person to talk about race without being branded racist, which is really too bad, so I won't go into my ideological issues with Mrs. King's activism. I will say I wish she would have given examples of how she and Dr. King thought America should deal with national security threats from other countries using nonviolence. She hammered home her strongly held beliefs that nonviolence was the answer, and I won't say she's wrong, but she offered no alternatives to protection with arms. In all, this is a worthwhile book, but the first half was by far the best part. (My first edition hardcover had many typographical and factual errors. I haven't seen that in a book for a long time.) My rating: 3 stars.

I listened to Pax on audio while I took my Christmas tree down and worked on my latest puzzle this weekend. I am very surprised I stuck with it, because I found this book so unbearably sad, difficult, and hard-hearted. It's the story of Peter and his pet fox, Pax, whom he must leave in a woods because his father is going off to war, and their long journey back together. There was very little redemption in the unkind characters; the ending for the fox was just, I suppose, but the human conflicts were never resolved. There was no setting, which really bothered me for some reason. The reader has no idea which country this was set in, during which time period, or on the eve of which war (I assume it is a future or imagined war, though). It was disorienting and much too grim for me, and I don't think I'd recommend it to a kid, frankly. But I know others loved this book. It has done well and received acclaim. For me, though, I'll stick to Pennypacker's Clementine and Waylon books, because I like my children's books to comfort and entertain, not challenge me to the point of emotional frustration. My rating: 3 stars.



I'm also reading:
 

I'm enjoying Eleanor & Park, in spite of all the foul language.

I'm loving The Rain in Portugal, because, Billy Collins!
 
Next up:


I believe my next "main" book will be the third Flavia du Luce book, A Red Herring without Mustard. I can't wait!

My next audio will be Wolf Hollow. I've wanted to read it since it came out, but someone recently said it's great on audio, so I'm going with that.

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