Reading Roundup: February 2010

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This was an interesting read. It's as close to 'pure' creative nonfiction as you can get: Didion uses writing to work through her grief after the sudden death of her husband. There aren't any big lessons or morals, just exploration of thoughts, ideas, and memories.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

Yes, I've been on a bit of a Stegner kick lately. I plan on reading even more after this, so be prepared. This one started slowly and I wasn't sure about it for the first hundred pages or so. Then it really started to pull me in and I could barely put it down. I can tell it's an earlier work and I didn't think it was quite as polished as some of his later ones, but it's still a good book just the same.

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi

I've had this book on my list for years, but for some reason it just never sounded interesting to me. It turned out to be one of those books that you miss when you're done because you wish you could spend more time with the characters. The book is dense with detail about a small community and yet every one of the people it talks about seems unique and real. I've read a lot of books about Germany during the early twentieth century and yet this one managed to feel unique in many ways.

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

This is a book I thought I would like and ended up really disliking. I only finished it because I was intrigued by the plot and because I wanted to see if it would get better. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for the sort of dark humor and absurdism that make this book unique. It reminded me of Everything is Illuminated; I can tell it's a well-written book, but it still gave me a headache and made me cranky.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

This is another from my list of books that I've often heard referenced and yet never read. It was surprisingly readable and I liked it quite a bit. It reminded me a bit of both Ian McEwan's work as well as E.M. Forster, and since I love both of them I should not be surprised that I enjoyed it so much. Now I think I need to watch one of the movie versions of it.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

A friend described this book as 'hard' on her blog, and I agree. Some of the characters are prostitutes and the language is fairly gritty. At the same time, it manages to be a beautiful book about humanity, life, and connections between people. The writing is excellent and even though the plot made me want to rush a bit, it was worth the time to slow down and really enjoy the reading experience.

Movies

The Proposal

Mr. Fob and I have been so busy for the past few months that we haven't even had time to sit down and watch a movie (except for our family 'movie night' with the kids, but I don't usually write those down). We finally decided to take some time the other night and figured a light comedy would be a good one for two tired, stressed-out people. I thought this movie was quite charming and pretty decent for what it was. I laughed out loud in a number of spots and was pleasantly surprised that most of the jokes weren't dirty, even when they could have been. The added bonus was that most of the movie takes place in Alaska so the scenery was gorgeous.

Comments

Kristeee said…
I was so impressed with the scenery in "The Proposal" and it prompted me to start searching for good prices on Alaskan cruises (again - it's been on the wishlist for a few years now) . . . only then I found out from the credits and imdb that it wasn't filmed in Alaska. It was filmed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Sad, huh?
Th. said…
.

Is that Waugh book supposed to be funny? Because all I've read is Vile Bodies which is supposed to be funny but really isn't.

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