Reading Roundup: November 2009

Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color by Philip Ball

I have long been interested in art and so I found this book to be quite interesting. It was a bit difficult to read at times because it got very technical, so if you have more exposure to science it would probably be more readable for you. It is also a book that requires a lot of close attention and I don't have that opportunity much these days. Nevertheless, it was a good read and full of fun tidbits about paints and painting.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it is very well-written and I can see why it is generating so much buzz. I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading it, and the three main characters that tell the story are all well-written and very compelling. On the other hand, I always feel a little discomfort reading black dialect written by contemporary white women. I felt the same way about The Secret Life of Bees; it was a good story but a little too close to the edge of cliche for my taste.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

This was our bookclub pick for the month and I really enjoyed it. I didn't know much about Seabiscuit or horse racing before starting it and yet the story is written in a lively, interesting way. There were so many moments that almost seemed 'stranger than fiction' and yet were even more fun to read because they were true. This is one of the better nonfiction books I've read in a while and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good historical story.

Undiscovered Country by Lin Enger

This is a retelling of Hamlet set in a small town in contemporary Minnesota. The writing is beautiful and the retelling worked well for me because it manages to be subtle. My only complaint was that the book was sometimes difficult to read because the narrator is a confused, angry teenaged boy. That aspect is a bit too realistic and sometimes frustrating.

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

The problem with memoirs is that they can make you dislike the author just as easily as they could make you like her. I felt ambivalent about this book in that way; the author is a very good writer and makes a lot of good points about mental illness, but I still found it hard to relate to her and to her life in a meaningful way. Perhaps that is due more to generational and class differences, but this book was not one of my favorite memoirs.

Movies

Cria Cuervos

Since this is considered one of the seminal films in Spanish cinema I decided it was time for me to watch it. As expected, it was a little strange and surreal; the main theme is the inner world of children that often seems incomprehensible to adults. It is a good movie and certainly deserving of the praise it has received.

Gallipoli

I've seen this a few times in my life, but we decided to watch it since we were talking about Australia; and, it's a good film to see in honor of Veterans' Day. Some aspects of it feel a bit dated, especially the music, but the themes are still timely and the acting is great.

The Errand of Angels

After sitting through several horrendous previews at the beginning of the DVD we started to lose any optimism for this movie. Thankfully it was actually pretty good and we both laughed a lot in recognition of various scenes from our missions. I thought it was quite well done and one of the better LDS films I've seen in a while.

Comments

Desmama said…
I love your reading roundups. I've found many a good read from them. :)
Terresa said…
Good book reviews. I feel like I've just come back from a book club meet up (and I love those!).

PS: I felt the same way about Secret Life of Bees.

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