Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's a book about war.... what did I expect?

Okay, so here it is..... I listen to Imus on my way to work in the morning. Yeah, he's kind of a goober, but I like his guests and find his interviews with the political movers and shakers to be amongst the best around.

Anyway, a couple of years ago he recommended Fly Boys and had the author on his show to discuss the book and how he came to write it. It's a historical account of some fly boys (American air men) shot down in the Pacific during WWII. Among these air men was George H. W. Bush -- regardless of your political affiliation, his personal story is rather noteworthy as he was the youngest naval aviator of his time.

So, I kept meaning to pick up the book.... time went by and I didn't.

Well, I got a Borders gift card for my birthday and decided that I should put it to good use and along with some other books, I picked up Fly Boys.

Let's just say -- this book is fabulously written and a very compelling story -- but I just can't read it anymore. It's too grisly and although I'm drawn to it because of the story of bravery and the historical context..... it's a war book and I'm just not in a place where I have the stomach for it right now. I physically whince when I turn the pages..... the details come to life in such a way that I can't bear to put myself through it anymore.

I will read it -- but right now.... I'm putting it aside for something a little lighter -- Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn.

Join Me?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Judy Bloom meets John Steinbeck?

Okay -- so I finished The God of Animals, and I'm interested in what you (Arwen, because I think you are probably the only one besides me who read it) liked/disliked about it.

To me..... it was kind of an odd dichotomy -- an "end of the innocence" story in a rural setting..... a place where there was still a posse and cowboys mingled with "catfish" because it was profitable. A commentary on the affluent -- where the lives of both people and animals are just hobbies..... disposable -- and where things are rarely what they seem.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Jews With Swords

Of late I have found it difficult to type or read blogs. Too busy with kids, largely indifferent to the suffering of others, entranced by Ms. Palin's keen grasp of social policy - the usual reasons.

It has been equally difficult to make the time to read anything more complex than classified ads. How does anyone locate the narrative thread in the busy tapestry of parenting, employment, and periodic unconsciousness? (And creaky metaphors? Hmm?)

In any event, I have just completed the above-pictured novel. It reads episodically, appears to be well-written, and lacks delf-seriousness. It does not have an "O" on it. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Chabon's work (as do I) and who suffers from a truncated attention span (yep).


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Based on Arwen's Recommendation....

Based on glowing Arwen's recommendation, I'm going to read The God of Animals, by Aryn Kyle.

Anybody want to join me?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frankly Scarlet..... Oh, sorry....different Scarlet

I just finished (well, I'm actually a couple of pages from the end of) Maeve Binchey's Scarlet Feather.

It may be because of familial background, but I've always loved Maeve Binchey's books -- she writes about the Ireland where I grew up -- small villages where everyone knew every one's business. Real people who faced real adversity and triumph every day. Her writing style is easy to get absorbed in -- it's complex in its simplicity.

She describes her characters with such warmth and honesty -- they become your friends, your neighbors, your family -- I cried when the Jack betrayed Benny in Circle of Friends and I wanted my parents to pack us up and move us back to Ireland like Patrick O'Neil did in Firefly Summer. I'm always sad to see the end of one of her books -- because I'll miss these people I've been spending time with. She always leaves story on the table.... I always walk away wondering what happened to them after.... did the romance take off? was the marriage saved? did the rascal's mischief ever catch up to him?

Scarlet Feather wasn't really like that for me. I had a hard time getting lost in the story -- the writing was the same, but the characters...... I just didn't care about them much. Cathy was nice enough, but not all that warm. Tom was warm -- but you really didn't see that side of him right away. My heart just didn't ache for them when they suffered disappointments.... my spirit didn't soar for them when they triumphed -- they were just people passing by.

Or so I thought.

It wasn't until I was about half way through the book that I began looking forward to picking it up. And although much of the plot points were really very predictable, and I knew what was coming -- I started to hope that I was wrong..... these are good people, they deserve a break -- some good luck.

I won't give too much away, in the event one of you (anybody still out there?) decides to read it -- but, I did end up getting weepy a couple of times... and happy a few too.

Overall, I'd say that this book was not one of Maeve's best -- but it was still good. It took a lot longer to get absorbed in it than some of her others -- the characters may not have been quite as compelling -- but, I am sad to say goodbye to Cathy and Tom. There are a few questions left unanswered -- so there is more story to tell.... I think she likes it that way.
I'm off to Borders to get a new book -- anybody want to make a suggestion?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is This Thing On?

Hello, virtual bibliobots. I have been too busy reading to spend any time typing. Like, menus and such. The yellow pages. And Don DeLillo.

I was reading "Underground" for some time. This book is massive. Go ahead, measure it. Weigh it. I am not lying. The usual hallmarks of a good read, for this amateur reader, were evident. I wanted to know what was happening, or going to happen, to the characters.* Plus: lofty prose, rapturous passages, olfactory hallucinations. The good stuff. I would recommend this book to friends I expect to see again.

Whereas "Mao II" is pissing me off. So much so I don't care where my prepositions are found in. Or on! That's right. I want everyone in the book to perish so someone interesting or worthy of further interest can arise. Right now the anti-hero, or protagonist, or whatever it is is in Athens waiting to meet a terrorist, or accountant, or something and likely something bad will happen to him. Or not. Who cares? I don't care. I put the book in my closet and I am now reading something crappy but mildly funny** until the next massive book crawls into my field of vision and refuses to leave until it is done with me.

Or maybe I should haul Mao II from the closet and wait for the cultural revolution. I don't know if it's worth the effort. Do you?


* Mostly nothing. Or they'd disappear. Don DeLillo has eaten the Texas Highway Killer.
** Morgan Spurlock in search of public enema #1.


So, I got a gift card to Borders and it's burning a hole in my pocket.

Anybody want to make a recommendation?

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Tipping Point

When I was in graduate school, I took a course in entrepreneurship -- The Tipping Point was assigned by the instructor and I was just too busy to read it. Listening to the class discussion, it was a book I'd regretted not reading -- so, I swore that I'd read it..... eventually.

Well, eventually is here -- I just finished it.

It is not the typical book club book. It's more text-booky than it is novel. It's non-fiction and it's full of facts, history, lots and lots of statistics...... all the things that make most people (unless they are math/accounting geeks like me) gloss over. But, it is also full of pop-culture, psychology and science.

This book is not for everyone, and I can understand why some people would pick it up and then promptly and permanently put it down.

However, there is a chapter on Sesame Street, Blue's Clues and child development that I think is worth reading for any parent.

I really enjoyed the book -- and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. It uses real examples to illustrate and explain how fads happen or, in many cases, why they fail to.

The next book in my line up is Maeve Binchey's Scarlet Feather

Being a first generation American who spent a lot of time in Ireland as a kid, I tend to really enjoy Maeve Binchey's books. I'm not sure if people without that connection would enjoy them quite as much, but -- given her popularity.... I'd say they do.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Jerk's Wife

oh, okay -- that was kind of harsh...

I just finished The Time Traveler's Wife -- I read it based on rave reviews I got from a bunch of people who have never steered me wrong before.

Honestly, I didn't really like it much in the beginning.

The author is clearly very talented and has an amazing imagination -- and the format or method she uses to unfold the story (journal entries of sorts) was effective and engaging -- but, I just didn't really like the main character very much.

Perhaps I'm old fashioned or just naive, but I like a main character I can love or love to hate..... this guy?... he just seemed like a waste of time. I didn't like him much, didn't find him all that attractive..... but, I also didn't think he was worth the effort or energy involved in hating.

As the story progressed, my opinion did change and I did begin to enjoy the story. Although I still didn't love or hate this guy, his character was redeemed as he matured. Additionally, there were some plot twists and turns in the middle/end that really threw me and kept me just engaged enough to keep reading -- even during parts where I didn't think the story was that great.

Given that I have a new baby, there were some parts of the story that really tugged at my post-partum heartstrings.... but I don't want to give too much away in case you want to read the book yourself.

In the end, I can say that I liked the book -- I didn't love it, but I liked it and I would certainly read her next book.

I'm probably going to read The Tipping Point Next -- if anybody's interested in joining me.

This is a book that I've been meaning to read for years.
When I was in graduate school it was assigned as required reading for an entrepreneurship class and I didn't read it, but from the class discussion -- I regretted my laziness and put it on my list of books that I wanted to read. Well, here we are 6 years later and I'm going to make good.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Devil Wears Prada

So, while I was in the hospital.... I managed to finish The Devil Wears Prada.
I'm not going to bother with some long detailed review -- I think I was the last person in America to read the book.... and I haven't seen the movie.

Instead, I'll just share some things that I found interesting.....

Upon seeing the book, every nurse in the hospital had to comment on it..... "I loved that book," "I hated that book," "It was hard to get into," and of course the usual "Not as good as the movie" or "So much better than the movie."

Makes me wonder..... do you prefer to read the book first? or see the movie first?

I personally prefer to read the book first (if I bother to see the movie at all) -- I can't really think of an instance where I preferred a movie to a book..... but that's just me.

The book was okay -- it was fluffy -- good for hospital (or beach) reading, but not much more.

Based on Sarah's and Arwen's recommendations, I'm currently in the middle of the The Time Traveler's Wife and so far.... I like it -- it's clever and different and it's holding my attention without being so intellectual that I can't put it down and pick it back up easily..... I hope to finish it by the end of the week..... so I'll let you know how it is when I'm done.