Reading Roundup: April & May 2015

 The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

When I read the second book first in this series I felt like I was caught up on what was going on in the world and admired Sanderson for doing such a good job setting things up so that I didn't really feel too lost. However, after reading the first book, I realized that there were quite a few things that might have been more understandable if I had read it first. Oh well--it was still a great read and somehow felt too short despite reaching a thousand pages. I'm eagerly anticipating the third book when it eventually comes out.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Just like I can't resist eating some cheap candy bars now and then, I have a hard time resisting mystery/suspense books like this. Even though they all end up having similar plots, they are still a lot of fun to read and a great escape for a few hours. This one had the interesting twist of including a particularly unlikeable and unreliable narrator, and I honestly didn't even like her by the end of the book, but the twists in the plot were surprising and I enjoyed being along for the ride.

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski

This was an excellent book to read while finishing up a class on the history of books and libraries. Petroski had some fascinating insights and I learned quite a lot from the book. It was a bit dry at times and definitely a slow read, but if you are interested in the history of books, architecture, or libraries you would probably enjoy this.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Gawande is one of my favorite nonfiction writers; I find medicine to be a fascinating subject and he always writes about it in relateable, insightful terms. This was an excellent book and gave me quite a lot to think about. I'm not that old, and neither are my parents really, but it's never to soon to think about quality of life and healthcare issues.

Softly Falling by Carla Kelly

This was the perfect book to reward myself with at the end of the semester. I have loved all of Kelly's historical romances that I've read over the last few years and this was no exception. The characters were all unique and memorable, the action was realistically suspenseful, and the romance was sweet and satisfying.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A coworker saw me reading this book and asked me what it was about, and I struggled a bit to respond. It's post-apocalyptic, but moves back and forth in time between the years before the catastrophe, the moment of crisis, and twenty years later. Unlike books like World War Z or The Passage, it's heavy on philosophy and light on action (there is some violence though). It's the kind of satisfying book where various pieces of the story are woven throughout until they all come together in the end and you want to read it again just to see how all the moving parts work. I think this was one of my favorite books of the year so far.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

This book didn't quite work for me. It had an intriguing premise--a woman keeps slipping into dreams that show her an alternate reality until she can't decide which is her 'real life' and can't decide what she really wants to do with herself. My main issue was with the characterization; I never really connected with the main character and hard a hard time really caring much about what she did. There were also some little historical details and continuity errors that bugged me too. It wasn't bad enough to make me stop reading, but it wasn't a great read either.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

On the one hand, I can see why this book is getting a lot of buzz and winning a lot of award. The plot is fascinating and the characters are compelling. Sometimes, though, I think I'm getting too old to read teen books because I identify too much with the parents and not with the kids. I'm not sure I would have identified much with these kids as a teen either--some teen books are about amazingly talented teens who live oversize lives, and this is one. If you can not roll your eyes at it and just go along with it, this is a great book.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Somehow I ended up reading two books about magic ways to see an alternate life. This one is contemporary and involves a magic phone, though. I've loved Rowell's other books, but this is my least favorite. I just had a hard time understanding the main character's relationship with her husband couldn't quite see why they liked each other. There was a lot of telling me about it, but not much showing it and I didn't quite get it.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

I've loved Thomas Hardy ever since high school, but I really don't think I'd ever read this book. Like most other books, destiny turns on small events and on people choosing passion over prudence. Unlike some Hardy books, it at least has a somewhat happy ending. I still like Tess the best, but this was a satisfying read anyway.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Another mystery/suspense--I think I'm averaging one a month lately. I did guess some of the twists in the plot, but there was one at the very end that I didn't see coming at all. There was some good social commentary in here too, but some of the characters were more like caricatures and the writing was a bit too melodramatic at times.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

This book restored my faith in Rowell's writing--funny, realistic characters who fall into an unconventional romance. I like that Rowell seems to really understand people who are shy and socially awkward, and gives them a chance to grow and find new connections. I think Fangirl is still my favorite, but this is a close second.

Movies

Far from the Madding Crowd

I actually made it to a movie in a theater this month. I thought the cinematography and acting were excellent in this adaptation, but it still felt a little flat. I think the problem is that I had recently read the book, and though the movie hit all the high points of the plot, it necessarily left out quite a bit of the backstory and explanation that really give it depth.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I want to remember

Reading Roundup: July 2015

Taking care of myself or taking it easy