Monday, January 30, 2012

Not Just Hiking - January 2012

Want to see what I am reading and have read before I post my complete list at the end of the month? Want to know when I read a book or what I am going to read? Check out my Goodreads page. Want to see a list of every physical book in this house? Want to know what my husband read? Want to know what my kids own? Visit LibraryThing.


The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkein
I loved it. It was a beautiful end to a wonderful trilogy. Who doesn't love the triumph of good over evil? Who can't love Sam? I think I would read the trilogy over again just to get to the last book.

The Outlander by Gil Adamson
This was a book club choice for January, and at first I did not really like it. I am not sure I would have liked much 2 hours after finishing Tolkein. Maybe I should have waited a day. Slowly the story grew on me. Once I realized this was a story about mental illness (although some in my book club disagreed - the girl at the gravesite was NOT real!!) and not about a girl lost in the wilderness, I began to enjoy and appreciate it. It turned into a compelling read. I am glad this was a book I "had" to read otherwise I would have put it down at page 30. For more information on the Frank Slide visit the interpretive center website (one of the more depressing history centers I have ever had the chance to visit.) For a great book about mental illness review Drawing Mental Illness.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
Enjoyable. The Boston Globe called it "as casually unadorned as rawhide," which I thought was a perfect description. Above all, this is a story about finding HOME.

The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler
This was a quick (2-hour) read on a lazy afternoon one weekend. I have the same question now that he asked at the beginning of the book. If something happened to me, what would my kids remember of my voice?

Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare
The first of my 12 Shakespeare plays this year. Not my favorite, but still good. The movie was great!

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
Not an easy read, but well worth the time I put into it.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The 4th of 16 books from the Tournament of Books I have read. (Last year I read The Sisters Brothers, The Cat's Table, and The Marriage Plot.) I don't really have any intention of reading all of the nominations, but when seaching for a good book to read, go to a reliable source. In the first round, this one is up against The Cat's Table. I think Swamplandia! is the better of the two books, but neither author made me really care about the characters until it was almost too late. Good enough story, no emotional pull.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
The 5th of 16 books from the Tournament of Books, this had quite a few similarities to Swamplandia! They both had dead mothers, kids with no emotional or physical support, daughters searching, sons looking for a way out, fighting animals and ultimate restitution of family. However, I found this book to be far more compelling and a much more enjoyable read. I think this books had more "life." Perhaps, having lived in South Texas, I also find the characters to be more familiar. Don't think I am saying that I know what these people go through or how they live, but I have seen them and I know who they are.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
This was the book club choice for February. I have a feeling that I will be in the minority, but I really liked this book. T.S. Eliot called it the first great mystery. Collins was a contemporary and friend of Dickens. It is set in Victorian times. It was well written. My guess, from what I have heard is that people don't like it because of the language. Which was one of the reasons why I liked it. Besides, it was a good story.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
So how is this for a recommendation ... my younger brother and my oldest son say this is one of their favorite books. Since I love and trust them both, and since I think they are both smarter than me, and since their recommendations are usually spot on I decided to read this during a quiet week when none of my choices had come in at the library and none of my book orders had arrived from Amazon. So, nominally, this is a book about rabbits. But if all you ever get out of it is a rabbit story, I suggest you stick with Beatrix Potter. This is a book about trial and hardship and loss and loyalty. It is about the daily struggle to live in a world that doesn't want you. But it is also about living in that world and making it your own. I loved it and I will definitely read it again. (J has read it 5 times.) There is no more devastatingly sorrowful chapter in all of literature that chapter 17 of this book.

The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
This was not a planned read and not a chosen read. I guess you could say it was thrust on me in a heated moment. My oldest son reads anything he can get his hands on and has been reading at a high-school level since he was in 3rd grade. But what do you do with a 12 year old boy who read every book or series out there for the 9-12 crowd by the time he was 9? How do you continue to find works that challenge him but aren't too mature? And here was the discussion. My husband thinks the boys should read more Westerns. They don't because he doesn't take the time to encourage them. They read classics and mythology because when they were young that is what I read to them. They graduated to Rick Riordan and never looked back. In a bit of a heated discussion last night I suggested that if he wanted to influence what they read he needed to know what they read. He took one look at Book 7 in this series and declared it inappropriate. He didn't read it in context and he didn't care to. He was just mad. So I took it upon myself to see what the series is about. Long story short .. I read this first in his series in one sitting. It isn't great (or even good literature) but I can see why it appeals to a 12 year old boy. It definitely has more mature content than most of the other books he has read, but I doubt it isn't anything he hasn't heard on the bus or at school. I wouldn't let my 8 year old read them, but I decided it would be o.k. for my older son. There are a lot of "better" books he could be reading, but when your teacher assigns you The Iliad in 6th grade sometimes you just need a break.

Big Jake
I am a big John Wayne fan. My dad raised me on him (and Elvis). I will never forget the day we found out The Duke had died. He was larger than life and this is one of his best.

Much Ado About Nothing directed by Kenneth Branagh
Because Mrs. M-mv said so, "One thing I've pounded home, here and elsewhere, is that the introduction to Shakespeare should be as much like Shakespeare's intended experience as possible -- that is, his plays were meant to be seen and heard, not read." This made me laugh on a day I needed some joy in my life. I love Michael Keaton.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
As soon as M finishes one, we get to see the movie. When he finishes all, he gets the BIG Lego set. I haven't read these in a while so the story is a surprise again.

The Return of the King
The end of the trilogy. And just like the written story, I found this last to be the best. And just like in the books, I was moved to tears by the courage and loyalty of one Samwise Gamgee.

Total Books in 2012: 11

Other Notes:
I started Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland, but I didn't finish it. Bored.


Anonymous said...

Hi: I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy! And Wilkie Collins is on my to do list. I'm not so sure about Nabokov though - all I've read was Lolita and I didn't get it (as in why it was so brilliant).

Happy reading, Ruby

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Wow you had a lot going on!

DebD said...

Lord of the Rings trilogy are my favorite and I picked the last one up recently to re-read a few passages. It never gets old or stale.

Love you book list...thanks for sharing. I've wanted to read *Moonstone* for years but just never got around to it.