Reading Roundup: October 2009

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

This had the potential to be a good book but it really wasn't. It took me a long time to get through it because I kept getting bored. That's not a good sign. The main problem was just a lack of focus and too much repetition of the same ideas and facts. The story was interesting, but not as interesting as the author seemed to think it was.

Right of Thirst by Frank Huyler

I had a hard time getting into this book at first, but after a while the story picked up pace and I really enjoyed it. It's an interesting meditation on international aid and on growing older, among other things. The writing is really beautiful and the plot has several twists that I was not expecting.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I really don't like the title of this book, but it was still a good read and a has a very interesting plot. It alternates between the story of a twelve-year-old boy and his first love, and the same boy now grown up forty years later. Some of the characters and situations seemed a bit too stereotypical but I liked the characters anyways and really enjoyed reading it.

The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis

This book is a fairly standard story of an outsider who comes to a small community and shakes things up with her unconventional ways. But, it really is more than that due to the quality of the writing and the unusual setting (an Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis). I had a hard time getting into the book initially because there are a lot of different characters and much of the terminology was unfamiliar to me, but in the end I really liked it. Comparisons with my experience as a member of a religious community were inevitable for me and so this book gave me a lot to think about.

And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts

After reading My Own Country last month I decided it was time to read this book, widely considered a classic of medical and political writing. Reading it was quite the experience. First of all, the book is dense, meticulous, and covers a lot of ground (it chronicles the first few years of the emergence of AIDS). I kept having to put it down and take a break. It's also an angry book; Shilts is angry at a lot of people--there aren't very many players in the story who come off well. I'm glad I read it because it really was an enlightening experience; if you're interested in this topic it is well worth your time (given the subject matter there is some explicit language).

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee

I had a good time reading this book, but I still didn't think it was a great novel by any means. The title character is a young woman who comes to Hong Kong and becomes a piano teacher for a wealthy local family. Through them she learns all about political and romantic intrigue that took place during the war ten years earlier. Most of the book is actually not about her, but instead about the other characters in the flashback. I thought this was a little weird, plus the writing just wasn't that great.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I think I would have liked this book more if I hadn't read so many other books like it. Why is the postmodern Holocaust novel such a big thing right now? It was an interesting book, but ultimately it didn't stand out to me in any particular way.

Movies

Push

This is the kind of movie that is enjoyable if you don't think about it too much. Or at all. The concept is similar to the show Heroes, where people have supernatural abilities. And they're trying to escape evil people and save something important. It's a fun action flick.

The Sixth Sense

It's been a while since either of us has seen this movie so Mr. Fob and I thought it was time for a rerun. I was impressed again by both the acting and the technical aspects of the storytelling. And even though I think it's not too 'scary' it still creeps me out considerably.

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