Reading Roundup August 2008
Most reviews I've read inevitably compare this book to Lahiri's short story collection (Interpreter of Maladies). I also really liked that book, and can see some ways in which this novel may not quite measure up, but still think this one is excellent. I liked reading a novel about average, every day people. Their lives were very different from mine and yet I could still find things to relate to here. The writing is beautiful and the characters are all interesting. After the book ended I sat around missing it and everyone in it for a while.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. It was a compelling read and obviously well-researched. I read it quickly and liked the story, even though I guessed the plot twist from the beginning. But I ended the book feeling yucky; I know I have a somewhat high tolerance for violence and stuff, but this book is very "gritty". I didn't like how everyone in it was mean and violent, and there were a number of parts that just felt over the top to me.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
I've been hearing all kinds of wonderful things about this book for several months so I decided it was finally time to read it. I felt somewhat deflated, because it really wasn't as good as I had thought it would be based on all the hype. I've read better memoirs that seemed to have more substance to them. But the writing was good and the story was interesting so in the end it wasn't a bad read.Being Enough by Chieko Okazaki
I've read a few other books by Sister Okazaki and really liked them, but for some reason this one just didn't grab me as much. She had some beautiful insights, but I also felt like she relied a lot on padding from inspirational quotes and sayings and I wanted more of her own unique experiences that she had used in earlier books.
Oil! by Upton Sinclair
I still haven't seen the movie based on this book, but I have more interest now after reading the story. It took me a long time due to the density of the language, but I thought it was a well-written novel and a compelling story.
Hooligan: A Mormon Boyhood by Douglas Thayer
I've read a few other things by Doug Thayer and have to admit that they all really do sound the same. This book is no exception, even though it should be more personal since it's a memoir. As one reviewer pointed out, the narrator is barely present and seems to be more of an observer than a participant in the action. There were several repetitive passages and I often felt as though the author was trying to list things rather than describe them. It was a quick and easy read, but not a particularly memorable one.
On the Road to Heaven by Coke Newell
After a month of mostly lackluster books I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I had been warned that the writing itself was not the greatest, and I certainly could have done without a few of the tangents or the seventies-era poems, but the story is compelling. One of the most real and fascinating conversion stories I've read in a long time and a good example of the potential for good Mormon writing.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
I read this back in high school but remembered little about it. This time around I was surprised by how readable it was, and yet it managed to be more than just a newspaper story. Capote really does deserve the praise he got for his innovations in nonfiction writing.Movies
The English Patient
I don't think it's a good sign that Mr. Fob and I both laughed during the sex scenes in this movie. There was very little chemistry between Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas. And even though I had read the book before I still had trouble following the plot as it jumped around in time and space. The book is definitely much better, although this is a very pretty movie.
A Separate Peace
It's pretty hard to make any movie about a boys' boarding school not turn into a homoerotic fantasy, and for the first half of this movie that's what it feels like. I thought it was a decent adaptation that mostly follows the story of the book, but it wasn't anything special.
I don't think this film has aged as well as some of Hitchcock's others, but it was still enjoyable. I liked the casting and I didn't see the twist in the ending at all
The Work and the Story
I was surprised to see this on the shelf at my library so I decided to take it home and watch it. Some parts of it were really funny, but it was very slow and felt much longer than it really was.Heroes: Season 2
So this is a TV show and not a movie, but we just watched the whole second season and loved it. I liked it just as much as the first season and now we're looking forward to the third starting soon. If you haven't seen this show you really should, although there are parts that creep me out even more than most books I've read or movies I've seen.