Reading Roundup: November 2010

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

I had read many good reviews of this book, but I never felt that interested in reading it. It turned out to be much better than I had expected. I realized that I had read much about the Great Depression, but nothing specifically about the actual Dust Bowl (they're not the same thing), and Egan's writing is both clear and compelling. He made this time period really come alive to me and a month later I still find myself still thinking about some of the stories he relates.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

This is another book that I'm kicking myself for not reading earlier; I think I had a misconception of what it was about from something else I'd read, but it wasn't what I was thinking at all. It was actually just my kind of book; I love 'literary mysteries' and I love historical fiction. The protagonist was someone I didn't particularly love, but at least I could understand her even when I did not agree with her.

Room by Emma Donoghue

This is one of the new 'it' books, and I can understand why. Sometimes it's hard to review books like this that are so different in their storytelling; the uniqueness of the story and its narration are so captivating that it can be hard to step back and really critique the book. That being said, I generally liked the book and felt like Donoghue was able to pull it off quite well. It left me with lingering questions, but when you are reading a story narrated by a five-year-old that is bound to be the case.

American Rust by Philipp Meyer

After checking this book out from the library I noted that a blurb on the back recommended it for fans of Cormac McCarthy or Dennis Lehane. While I have liked some of McCarthy's stuff, he's not my favorite and Lehane is really too dark for me. So this book was a bit hard for me to read although the story was enough to keep me going. I thought it was well-written, but it went places I wasn't expecting and the style and tone were not what I like to read.

Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I still haven't read this books yet, and now after seeing the movies I'm not sure if I will or not. The movie was really good and I liked a lot of aspects of the story and the characters. It is pretty graphically violent and I remembered that I have a higher tolerance for violence on the page, but I really don't know if I like it much in either place.

Invictus

I felt like this movie was a bit slow in getting started but generally it was well-done. It is hard to watch Morgan Freeman and think of him as anyone but himself; he did an admirable job trying to be Nelson Mandela. I've generally liked Clint Eastwood's recent movie but this one was probably my least favorite just because it felt a bit too much like any other sports movie. I had been hoping for something different.

Iron Man 2

This was a decent sequel that was a lot of fun to watch. I did not find the plot as interesting as the first one, simply because the origin story was much more unique than the standard conflicts brought up in this movie.

The Girl Who Played With Fire

I actually liked this movie a little better than the first one; I thought the plot was more complex and compelling. I also found it interesting that the two main characters are not ever in the same place at the same time during the movie. I'm looking forward to watching the third one. I'm not sure if I want to see American versions of these movies; they work so well as Swedish films I have hard time imagining them in English.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

We saw this in Imax for our anniversary and I enjoyed it a lot. It is darker than the other films and a good bit of it is spent wandering around in the woods being angsty. I'm looking forward to seeing the second half next summer.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I watched this movie when I was having a really bad week and it was the perfect antidote. I laughed and laughed. It is really weird and does a lot of strangely post-modern things with editing and such. I like that kind of thing; I probably would have hated this movie ten years ago but thankfully I've learned to like pop culture and think stuff like this is really clever.

Sherlock Holmes


I haven't read much Sherlock Holmes stuff and I'm not a big fan; I mostly saw this movie because it looked like a lot of fun. It was quite fun and another good 'escape movie' for when you're in the mood to watch action movies that don't involve blowing up cars (just their nineteenth-century equivalents).

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