Reading Roundup: June 2013

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

This was another historical mystery that jumped back and forth between the past and the present; it was an interesting read and I didn't guess the ending before I got there, but it had some weak spots in both the plot and the writing. I did like how well the author described the world of contemporary art and felt that the best parts of the work were her descriptions of art techniques and the current art market.

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

This book was similar to Freakonomics and NurtureShock in that it consists of scientific studies retold in more easily understood terms with cute examples. On the one hand, it was a fairly easy and fun read. On the other hand, I felt like I gained quite a few little insights that will be helpful to me in the long run.

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

Another historical book, this time set in the aftermath of World War 2. I thought it was pretty well-written and had a unique take on the time period that I haven't seen used very much before. I also appreciated that the author was able to empathize with her characters and see the world in the way they would have seen it, without adding in more modern interpretation.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I wanted to like this book more than I did; it has been compared to Gone Girl, which I did enjoy and which also featured a narrator who initially seemed to be a decent human being but was actually completely depraved. There was something about this book, though, that just made me feel bad about reading it, and I found the actions of the main character more confusing than I think I was supposed to.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

This book was better than I expected it to be; I chose it because the plot intrigued me, but the writing was really well-done as well and the main characters were both well-written. One of the alternating narrators and main characters is a black woman and I felt like her characterization and dialogue was much more natural than I have read in many other similar books like The Help.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

This is a book I will be thinking about for a long time. It's a hard one to describe--the plot is convoluted and keeps evolving as you read, surprising you with its twists and turns. There may or may not be some magical realism involved--I'm still not sure. This was a dense, intricate, well-written book that kept me absorbed for several days. It's a bit of work to read it, but really worth it.

Elders by Ryan McIlvain

This is another book that gave me a lot to think about it. It is really well-written and the details and characters are more familiar and realistic to me than most other LDS novels I've read, nationally published or not. At the same time, I felt like there was still something missing; at the core of the book. The vision of the gospel that the author presents is that it is something more outward--it's something that you do more than something that you are (more about that here). I know that's what some people think the Church is all about --doing or not doing stuff--but to me the Church and the gospel are much deeper than that.


Th. said…

I'm bummed you didn't like Dinner. I've been pretty intrigued, but maybe I won't pick it up.

Similarly, I'm pretty sure I won't read Elders now, based on your AML review. Since it sounds like the climax and conclusion of the book is just a rewriting of "Keep It Bible" (which I didn't like much), I can't really see it being worth the effort.

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