Reading Roundup: January 2010

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time a few years ago, but had never read The Hobbit. I read it this time planning to read the series again. I still haven't started it, and I hate to say that this book killed my enthusiasm a little. It was all right, but not really my favorite and not nearly as compelling as the rest of the series was. I guess it's time for a reread in order to remember what I liked so much.

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

I'm not a man or a father but I still enjoyed this book quite a lot. It's a series of essays about a variety of topics, some related to parenthood and others related to life in general. I thought it was a lot of fun to read and even laughed out loud in a few spots.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

In an interview in the back of the book the author mentions that she particularly likes the novel Rebecca for its elements of the gothic as well as its exploration of how the past intrudes into the present. To me, this explains a lot about the book's tone, which is somewhere between a gothic mystery and a historical novel about the Holocaust. I was a little squeamish about using the Holocaust in that way, since it is horrific enough on its own, but the book actually worked for me.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I've never read anything by Picoult and thought this book seemed like an interesting place to start. Many of the characters seemed pretty stereotypical, as did the story, but there were enough twists to keep me interested in reading. And I liked her method of alternating focus between a variety of characters since that made the story even more interesting and really fleshed things out in a way that kept things from feeling too trite and conventional. FYI, I thought I'd heard Picoult recommended because her books were fairly 'clean', but this one did have a few explicit scenes in it.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

I've read a lot about this book and so decided that it was time to actually read it for myself instead of just listening to what other people had to say. Krakauer is a writer that I admire a lot and I've really enjoyed his other books. This one was also well-written and interesting; as a Mormon, I actually did not find it hard to differentiate between fundamentalists and the rest of us, but I could see how that could be confusing if you aren't. The funny thing was, I was mostly bothered by the little details that didn't sound 'right'--the sorts of things you can't really get from research alone. Generally I thought this was a pretty interesting book and not half as 'scary' as I had heard it was.

Traitor by Sandra Grey

This was another Whitney winner from 2008 (novel of the year) and I really liked it. Although I had a bare idea of what the story was about before starting it I didn't expect the plot twists that came up. It really was quite good and brought up a lot of good questions about what faithful Latter-day Saints should do when caught up in war and other major conflicts.

Tribunal by Sandra Grey

This is the follow-up to Traitor, and I thought it was just as good. For one thing, it discussed post-war Germany and the beginnings of the Cold War, which is a time period I really am not very familiar with at all. The book follows up with some of the characters from the first one and introduces some new ones, but they all remained compelling and 'real' to me. A review I read of Grey's books pointed out that they may look like standard LDS romances or thrillers, but the writing is much more polished and mature than a lot of what is out on the market; I agree.

Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction

If you're curious about what LDS fiction is and who the major writers are right now, go buy this book and read it. Even if you're not or if you think you don't like short stories, I still think you should buy this book. It's hefty (over 400 pages) and includes a little bit of everything and everyone. There were some stories that I liked more than others, but I was generally impressed with the choices and the quality of the writing. If, like me, you've been reading a lot of Dialogue or Irreantum over the last few years you will feel that this book is a wee bit redundant, but many of the things in there are still worth a re-read (I won't bother to tell you which ones I didn't like, but after you read it we can talk). As you can tell, I want you to go buy this book and read it. Support LDS writers and expand your mind at the same time.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

I decided I need to read another book by Picoult to get a good feel for her writing. And I was in the mood for something a little more 'fluffy'. Well, the subject matter in her books isn't exactly 'fluffy': this one is about a young Amish woman accused of murdering her illegitimate baby. I actually did like this book a lot and really felt drawn into the story. I liked all the characters and felt emotionally attached to them. After reading two Picoult books, though, I think I've had enough for a while. She's an excellent storyteller, but much of her writing and characterization feels formulaic and so gets older after a few books.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

I randomly picked this book off the library shelf since the plot sounded interesting. The story itself was compelling and I certainly felt pulled to keep reading. But, I didn't like the fact that author constantly jumped around to various points of view. There were also a few of the characters that seemed completely unbelievable to me. So I have mixed feelings; a good read, but not well-written.

Comments

Desmama said…
I picked up a Jodi Picoult book at the library but didn't have a chance to read it before it was due. I'll check out a few of those you read by her.
Th. said…
.

I'm thinking Sandra Grey is the cure to my antimainstreamMormonmarketness.
FoxyJ said…
Th--

I think you should read both Sandra Grey and Heather Moore. I still won't read Anita Stansfield, but I've been pleasantly surprised by some of the stuff out there. I think I said something to Mr. Fob about how they looked they were going to be 'twinkie books' but they were more like French pastry--tasty and fun, but a little more sophisticated and satisfying.

Popular posts from this blog

I want to remember

Reading Roundup: July 2015

Taking care of myself or taking it easy