Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Not Just Hiking - February 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 Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
This was a strange little book. I didn't like it and I didn't hate it. I was indifferent. I just felt sorry for all of the characters. Two lessons I wanted to scream at them throughout the whole story ... "LIVE your life" and "if you want someone to know something, TELL them for goodness sake." By the way, this was the 6th of 16 books from the Tournament of Books. I haven't been all that impressed with their choices.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
I loved it. I never, never wanted to sit down to read it and I often dreaded the moment when I would open its pages, but I was drawn to it all the same. Having picked it up, I found it often difficult to put down. The language! Oh, Ishmael, I will miss you.

The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books by J. Peder Zane
Fun way to see how your likes stack up against some of your favorite authors. My all-time favorite (and the one book I would take with me to a deserted island), Lolita by Nabakov, was voted the top book of the 20th century.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
This 2009 Man Booker Prize winner did not disappoint. (I didn't think it would - too many people whose opinions I trust, including my brother and my book club friend Amy, said they loved it.) Despite being well-read in Tudor history, I still found this fresh and inventive. Cromwell as a hero? Why not? Every once in a while I would get confused by who was speaking, but a quick re-read of a passage or two early on helped me grasp Mantel's style. Although it is a big book (my second straight such undertaking) I was so caught up in the world of Cromwell that I never found myself bored or tired.

Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt
This is one of the funniest books I have read in a while and exactly what I needed after two "serious" books. DeWitt is clearly a genius. Disclaimer ... It is bit shocking and I would not recommend it for everyone. The 7th of the Tournament of Books novels I have read.

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
I haven't read a lot of YA fiction lately. My older son has moved into the adventure/spy/save the world books a la Alex Rider and I don't really enjoy that. My younger son is starting to read more, but he doesn't enjoy it like the first one did so I am a little pickier about what I put on his reading list. I have actually had this book for a few years now, it was a Newberry finalist the year the Gaiman's The Graveyard Book won. I just never have had the courage to read it. Because this book took courage for me. At times it was painful to read and I found myself in tears. Then I was angry and scared. Then I was alive with joy. I have heard this described as poetical, but I think the language is more musical. I have spent some time in the East Texas swamps she describes and as I was reading I could hear the music the swamp makes - the people and the water and the animals coming together in a sound I haven't heard anywhere else. A lonely melody but not without hope or love. A good dose of desperation with forgiveness thrown in. Southern Baptist mixed with Blues and some Country. I remember a purely Texas sound. This book is that for me.

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
I have read a lot of histories and biographies in the last few years so I have quite a few books to compare this too. If I am judging the book, I would have to say I was not overly impressed. I didn't think the writing was very crisp and it tended to plod. However, I was impressed by the story of the man. I am ashamed to say that I didn't know much about President Garfield, and now I can only wish we had more men like him in Congress and running for the Presidency. Holding all of the current candidates up to Garfield for comparison leave them woefully lacking. I would have loved to see what a great historian like McCullough could have done with the same story. I think Garfield (and Bell and Lister) deserved more than Millard could bring.

King Lear by Shakespeare
I finished this one just in time to add it to my February list, which means I did not give up after only one month on my attempt to read 12 of Shakespeare's plays this year. King Lear is great, but it is especially good if you need to insult someone. For example:

Act 4, Scene 4
"You are not worth the dust which the rude wind blows in you face."
or Act 2, Scene 2
"A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave...a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch..."


The Way
I loved this movie. The scenery is beautiful and the director take full advantage of it. It was a bit sentimental, but I would find it a bit strange if a story about losing and then finding what is important wasn't a bit on the mushy side. It didn't hurt that Martin Sheen starred.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
A reward for M who read the third. These keep getting better and better.

Books in February: 8
Books in 2012: 19

Other Notes:
I started People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks but I didn't finish it. I didn't even get past chapter 4. Bored.

1 comment:

Caryl said...

I read Kathi Appelt's Keeper last year, and I loved it. I will definitely get to The Underneath someday... maybe soon after reading your comments. Appelt uses language beautifully in Keeper, too, and it was amazingly entwined with the setting (the coast near Galveston, Texas). I read about it last year in School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids Books (modeled after the Tournament of Books), and I'm so glad they chose it! This year's battle starts March 13: