Reading Roundup: June 2010

Sorry for the delay this month. Summer time has really cut into my free time, plus I have a baby who is still learning how to go to sleep and often takes up my whole evening as well. There aren't as many books as usual because I've been reading Middlemarch off and on all month; it's a good book, but at 800 pages long it's taking up quite a bit of my time!

Yearning for the Living God: Reflections from the Life of F. Enzio Busche

A friend recently mentioned on her blog that she was really inspired by this book. I felt the same way; it was a nice break from some of the books I've been reading that, while good, tend to be a bit depressing and harsh. At the same time, it did not feel 'fluffy'. Elder Busche is articulate and has obviously spent a lot of time reflecting on his life and the lessons he has learned. I have read a lot of books--both fiction and nonfiction as well as Mormon and not--about 20th-century Germany and felt that this book was a valuable contribution to the literature written about that part of our recent history.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

I thought this book had an intriguing premise--what happens to those on the periphery of tragedy and what is the role of those whose role in life is to deliver bad news. It was a good read, but I found that I didn't really connect much with any of the characters and much of the plot felt unoriginal.

Dance With Them Edited by Kathryn Soper

I happened to receive this book from Amazon the same day I attended the Segullah writing retreat. I thought it was serendipitous to get such a fine collection of creative writing after spending the day learning more about writing from some of the women who contributed to the book. Though it's certainly not a parenting manual, I gleaned valuable insights from the writing here. I'm only at the beginning of the parenting journey and I was inspired by the beautiful thoughts expressed by others who are further along in the path than I am.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

The greatest strength of this book is Janzen's ability to write with real humor and warmth about a family and religion that she is no longer a part of. I enjoyed that aspect of the book and could identify quite a bit with the struggle to separate out the influences of family, religion, and culture on your life as you grow up. However, I felt like the writing was disjointed in parts and the central story seemed much flimsier than the premise set up on the jacket copy. I would have liked a little more depth in the insights found in this book.

Movies

(500) Days of Summer

This movie mostly made me realize that I am really not hip and never will be. I'm probably not the target audience for a movie like this. But I still thought it was a lot of fun and did a lot of very brilliant things with storytelling.

Defamation: Anti-Semitism the Movie

As you can tell by the title, this movie is a bit tongue-in-cheek. It was interesting and both Mr. Fob and I felt like we learned a bit more about Mid-East politics. At the same time, it does not get into issues in a profound way and should be watched along with other things for a more balanced point of view.

It's Complicated

I didn't have high expectations for this movie, so that's probably why I enjoyed it so much. It's your typical escapist romantic comedy where everyone is impossibly rich and beautiful, except that the major characters are all my parents' age and have grown children. We had a lot of fun watching it and honestly can't figure out why it was rated R. Yes, there is a lot of talk about sex but no actual action on screen and the language was very clean. It was probably the rather hilarious drug-use in the middle of the movie. I'd recommend this if you're looking for a fun, fluffy movie for a date night.

Born into Brothels

Some friends recommended this documentary to us and I'm glad we watched it. It is about a photographer who helps children born into poverty in India learn how to take photos as a way to improve their lives. The children in it were sweet and engaging and the film manages to avoid sugar-coating things or summing things up in a happy ending. I appreciated the fact that it didn't make philanthropy look simple, but still managed to be inspiring at the same time.

Up in the Air

This is one of those movies that manages to be funny and sobering at the same time. I think as a film it works incredibly well and the acting is all phenomenal. But as a commentary on current society it is harsh--like that cliche traffic accident you can't avoid watching. I love movies like this that are an extended character study; the main character has been living his life in a certain way for so long that it's fascintating to see what happens when things come along to shake it up a bit.

Comments

Courtney said…
I felt the same about It's Complicated. I enjoyed the movie, and I had no idea it was rated R. I even made a bet with my husband that it was rated PG-13. Obviously, I lost. I guess it was for that drug use in the middle, which I agree, was hilarious.

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