Reading Roundup: November 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Patchett's books are always hard to explain; the plots sound like they are belong to action thrillers, but the writing is much more quiet and introspective. Either way, I love them and I find myself drawn in to the world she creates so fully that I am sad when I finish the book.

The Central Park Five


This book felt a bit superficial (it is fairly short) and it does not cover all aspects of the crime or its victim. However, I did feel that it still provided important insights, not only into the police procedures but also into the culture of New York City at the time the crime occurred. I also felt like I could finally understand why someone might confess to a crime they didn’t commit, and why the attack still plays such a big role in American culture even though what most people think they know about it is wrong.

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

I checked this out of the library when I wanted something quick and easy that I could escape with. I've never been disappointed by Lippman when it comes to reading a well-written mystery that keeps you reading without insulting your intelligence as a reader.

Abish: Mother of Faith
by K.C. Grant

I wanted to like this book, and I think it has some strengths, but I was distracted by the sloppy editing, the densely convoluted plot and characters, and the fact that it was obviously a sequel to a book I hadn't read before and should have read before this one. I think it had potential and I really liked the author's characterization of Abish, but I felt that it fell short.

The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin

This is one of those books that I have been talking up to everyone I know. The writing is clear and easy to understand, and the author has obviously thoroughly researched his subject in a comprehensive way. I also liked that he does not just cover the history of vaccines and the controversy surrounding them, but he also explores things like the problems with news coverage of scientific studies, how we understand and evaluate information, and what influences the choices we make.

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

This book has an interesting premise and the writing is very good. However, the book left me feeling frustrated and I felt that the ending was weak in comparison to the rest of the book. The book is about the ways in which people miscommunicate with each other and let each other down, and it can be hard to read about people making stupid choices and not doing anything to correct their mistakes.

The Professor and the Madman
by Simon Winchester

This was our book club pick for the month, and so it was good to finally get around to reading it since it's been on my 'to-read' list for years. I thought it was an intriguing story but there were times when the writing failed to keep my interest. I felt that some times the author gave too much information and in other places he gave too little.

The Summer I Learned to Fly
by Dana Reinhardt

This was another quick read, since it is a relatively short YA book. I liked it; it is a sweet tale about growing up and learning more about yourself and the world around you. And it's about a 13-year-old girl in California in the mid-1980s who has a pet rat, so I think I was destined to read it.

The Things We Cherished
by Pam Jenoff

This book was a great read; the plot is a nice mix of romance and mystery and really keeps you reading until the end. The chapters switch back and forth between the past and the present, and that can get confusing at times. I also thought the back story was more interesting and better-written than the contemporary parts of the book

The Beast in the Garden by David Baron

This book felt like a nice cross between a true crime book and nature writing. I did not know much about cougars in the west before reading it and I thought the author did a good job of being thorough and balanced. I would love to see a follow-up to some of the issues he raises, since this book covers events that now happened twenty years ago.

Movies

Taking Chance

I was not expecting to like this movie as much as I did. I was worried that it would be cheesy and it really wasn't. It is surprisingly powerful despite the fact that the events it covers are, unfortunately, rather routine.

Black Swan

I rarely regret watching movies, but I don't think this one was worth my time. I think I just wasn't in the right mood, but it was a little too weird and crazy for my taste.

Comments

SeƱora H-B said…
I completely agree with you about Ann Patchett. Bel Canto will forever be in my top (some arbitrary number) list of books. I keep meaning to re-read it, but am afraid I'll be disappointed. Now I'll just read _State of Wonder_.

I have found Simon Winchester interesting, but occasionally dead boring. [anecdote] I tried listening to _A Crack at the Edge of the World_ on a road trip once. That was disastrous. I ended up pulling off the road and napping at least once. I finally gave in and bought a John Grisham thriller at a truck stop. I have come to the conclusion that some books are appropriate for road-trip listening. Others are not. [/anecdote]
Earth Sign Mama said…
"a 13-year-old girl in California in the mid-1980s who has a pet rat, so I think I was destined to read it" Ha ha ha!! I might have to read it just for that one sentence!!

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