Monday, April 17, 2017

What I'm reading this week (4/17/17)

Last week I finished:

I wanted to love The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, but the best I could muster was a lukewarm "like". It's a fun story, but it reminded me of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in that it just wasn't real enough. I like to believe the book's characters and situations, and I just didn't believe Arthur Pepper and his crew. I constantly felt that I knew more about Arthur, and his late wife Miriam, than the author did. I felt like I understood their motivations better and knew better how they'd react to situations. I was bothered by the premise: Arthur, who finds a charm bracelet in his late wife's boot, goes in search of his wife's past and learns things about his wife of 40 years she'd never told him. Lots of things. I just didn't believe that these two were that disconnected, that a man (this man) would never ask about a woman's past once in 40 years. I was also bothered by the fact that it seemed to be wanting to rip off A Man Called Ove. And I was especially bothered by the less than stellar writing. It just wasn't my cup of tea, but it was an adventure (almost a mystery) that keeps your attention, and I'm sure others would enjoy it more than I. My rating: 2 stars.

Sometimes if you hold off on reading a book that you're dying to read, you make that book up in your mind to be something more than it can be. I think that happened with Candice Millard's latest, Hero of the Empire. I'd absolutely loved her earlier books Destiny of the Republic about president Garfield's assassination, and The River of Doubt about Theodore Roosevelt's journey in the until then unexplored Amazon. I would recommend these to anyone who loves history books or books about presidents. But Hero of the Empire, about Winston Churchill's time as P.O.W. in Africa during the Boer War, and his escape from his imprisonment, wasn't nearly as interesting to me. I normally love a book about a single event in history, but maybe there just wasn't enough to this story, or maybe my take-it-or-leave-it feeling about war stories and stories set in Africa kept me back. I liked the story, and it is quite a surreptitious adventure filled with almost unbelievable turns, and the characterization of Churchill was fascinating (Millard really does her research), and the writing was superb, but something about the book just didn't grab me like her others. (Although I will say the second half of the book--post-escape--was much more enthralling.) Worth a read if you're interested in Churchill or learning about the Boer War (I knew next to nothing about it). Perhaps this would have been better on audio. My rating: 4 stars. 

I continue reading:

This last week I've been mainlining poems. I just can't get enough of them. In addition to Good Poems and Eat this Poem, I've been reading through some of my copious files of poems, and I've been finding wonderful treasures.

I'm not as enchanted in 50 Artists You Should Know as I was with 50 Paintings You Should Know.  Something feels uneven about this book that didn't in the previous one. Or perhaps I'm more interested in the art than the artist?
My audiobook:

I dithered over whether to read The Wonder since it came out in September, but I'm so glad I took the plunge. I'm enjoying this one so much! I didn't know going in that it was set in the mid-1800s, but you know me and historical fiction--it's like bread a butter to me. I'm about halfway through the book, and I'm loving the writing, the mood, the tiny glimmers at the evolution of the main character, and the inevitable questions raised when thinking of a child who apparently is subsisting on manna from heaven. And true to form, I'm getting worried about how it will end.

Up next:

I'm unsure what I'll pick up next. There are four more books on my April reading list, but due to the number of headaches and evenings where I just don't feel well enough to read that I've been dealing with lately, I think I'll have to drop two from the list. I'll start one of these novels, though:


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