Reading Roundup: June 2011

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

I first read this book a number of years ago and hated it. I read it again and realized that I still hate it. None of the characters in it are very likeable; that's not really a good reason to hate a book, but I realized after reading it this time is that they are incomprehensible. I know the author is trying to model the book after the story of King Lear, but that mostly means a book filled with characters that think and act in ways that seem unbelievable and off-putting.

Thinking in Pictures
by Temple Grandin

I enjoyed this book and it gave me a lot to think about. There were parts where the tone felt uneven, and I had expected it to be more purely memoir rather than a mix of memoir and advice, but generally I thought it was a good read.

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

This was our book club read this month and it led into a really great discussion. Although the book is billed as looking at both sides, in reality it does lean a bit more towards sympathy with the Palestinians than with the Israelis. I thought it was a good introduction to both the broad history of the conflict in the Middle East and the personal, human issues that are part of it.

Tangerine
by Edward Bloor

This is a YA book that I keep seeing on 'best of' lists and decided to read for myself. It reminded me a lot of Chris Crutcher's books, which also combine dysfunctional families, social issues, and sports. I think Bloor is a worthy heir of Crutcher and this is a good read if you want a YA book that isn't a paranormal romance.

The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life by Jasmin Darznik

I listened to an interview with the author of this book on NPR and found her family's history to be fascinating. I think she has done a great job retelling her mother's history in this book, but I think I would like to know more about her own history with her mother and what it was like to grow up as an immigrant in the US. It was still a great read and another to add to the list of great memoirs that are out now.

The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason

When I first read the Odyssey in high school I was fascinated by it. It's long been one of my favorite pieces of literature, which I think makes me the perfect reader for this book. I'm not sure how many other people would enjoy it as much. The author has created a book that is a bunch of short (some very short) pieces that retell portions of the Odyssey in different ways. It's very postmodern, but not in a kitschy way. I loved it, but it may or may not be your thing.

Movies

Green Lantern

This is the first movie I've seen in 3D and it wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. The major flaw I found in the movie was the fact that the entire thing felt like prologue, rather than plot itself. Also, Ryan Reynolds is very cute to watch, but he's not a great actor. I think Green Lantern is the kind of character that needs more depth than just "I'm hot".

True Grit

I didn't enjoy this movie as much as I expected to, but I think that's just because we were having a rather distracted night (phone calls and a baby who wouldn't sleep). The thing that surprised me most was the music--I loved it and I still have some of it stuck in my head.

The Green Hornet

This was another movie that was fun to watch but that didn't have any substance to it. It really needed a plot.

Comments

Th. said…
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Pretty much every superhero movie is a prologue. I wish they would just start in media res for a change.
Gina said…
I hate A Thousand Acres as much as I've ever hated a book. I can't even believe she won the Pulitzer for it. It just keeps getting worse and worse as things go along. Oh, it's so awful. And actually almost everything I've read by Jane Smiley just rubs me the wrong way.
FoxyJ said…
I actually really liked one of Smiley's more recent books, Private Life, quite a bit, but I've hated everything else of hers. I have heard her speak and she seems like a reasonable person, but I hate her books.

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