Thursday, January 25, 2007

Book review #1

I’m not liking any fiction lately. Or have I ever liked fiction? I keep reading it, so I must have at some point. I remember liking Margaret Atwood, especially Cat’s Eye. But I can’t seem to find anything lately that doesn’t make me roll my eyes at least once every couple of pages. I think I can excuse or at least overlook bad writing in non-fiction because the purpose of reading it is so different. I just finished reading The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. I guess it was a “bestseller” (whatever that means), but I have no idea why. The characters were so shallow and unbelievable, and the transitions seemed like something out of a ninth grade English class. Well, okay, maybe a tenth grade class. But still. Not that I could do any better, or believe me I would. I like to think of myself as an armchair author.

I don’t really have time to read (only occasionally while feeding Renée at night). So I don’t want to waste my time. But I don’t want to give up on fiction altogether either. I wish there was a reading genome project. Too bad. Any ideas? Becky? Are you out there? Anyone else?

11 Comments:

Anonymous guh! said...

I should borrow 'highest tide,' shallow and unbelieveable sounds perfect for me these days. I will bring you (finally) 'gilead.' I liked it so much I read it three times, but that might just be because I am old, so you might hate it.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

If I had time to read between work, school, and text books I might be willing to help.

I only got halfway through the last couple of books I checked out from the library. Sometimes I pick a book up by my bedside only to read one page and feel so completely exhausted that I just end up turning off the light and going to sleep.

One day.....I'll have time to read for pleasure again.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

:D You must know I have the most delighted expression on my face right now...

Non-fiction or fiction? For fiction, "My Sister's Keeper" has been pretty deservedly popular lately--the premise is that a couple's daughter has cancer and needs some sort of blood or cell donation, so they conceive another daughter to be that donor. As she grows up, the older sister continues to need blood or bone marrow, so she's constantly in pain to help her older sister, and it never stops. When she's 12, she decides to sue her parents for the right to her own body. :)

Ha Jin's "Waiting" deals with a doctor in '60s China who is waiting for 18 years to pass so he can divorce his wife. http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Novel-Ha-Jin/dp/0375706410/sr=8-3/qid=1169916407/ref=pd_bbs_3/105-9836862-1078057?ie=UTF8&s=books

I haven't reread The Woman in the Dunes lately, but I recall it being gripping--it's about a man who takes a day off of work to search for a new species of beetle and comes across a village of houses that are in holes in a sand dune. He is trapped in a pit with a woman whose husband recently died when sand collapsed on him, forced to shovel back sand every night. http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Dunes-Kobo-Abe/dp/0679733787/sr=1-1/qid=1169916634/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-9836862-1078057?ie=UTF8&s=books

"Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All" is one of my favorites for long trips. I'll gank the Library Journal description:
"Ninety-nine year old Lucille Marsden, confined to a charity nursing home in North Carolina, is an American cousin of Joyce's Anna Livia Plurabelle. Lucy tells the story of her marriage to "Captain" Will Marsden, ostensibly the Civil War's last survivor, whom she married when she was 15 and he was more than triple her age. She also tells about her husband's experiences in the war and after, the burning of her mother-in-law's plantation by Sherman's men, and the abduction from Africa of a former Marsden slave, midwife to Lucy's nine children as well as her best friend. But this novel is less about the War Between the States than about the war between the sexes. And, like Finnegan's Wake , it's also about how history is recorded and about how lives are turned into stories. Lucy's voice casts a spell as enchanting as Scheherazade's; a first novel to be slowly savored and richly enjoyed. BOMC selection."

And "The Nanny Diaries" is one of my current favorites, about an NYU student who is a nanny for a wealthy family. "[Nanny] rapidly leans the insane amount of juggling involved to ensure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn't work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day." :)

In autobiographical comic books, "Mom's Cancer" is stellar. (http://www.momscancer.com )Ditto with Marjane Satrapi's Persopolis and Persopolis 2, about growing up in Iran during the '80s.

In nonfiction, I love Jon Ronson's "Them: Adventures with Extremists," and "The Psychology of Everyday Things" (sometimes called "The Design of Everyday Things") by Donald Norman. The latter takes things like door handles and light switches and explains why they do or don't work logically (Like doors that you don't know whether to push or pull, based on the design of the handle).

:)

I've slowed down so much now that I'm student teaching! I never said "I don't have time to read" before, but now... I can't imagine how it'll be when I'm full-time. :-\

12:10 PM  
Anonymous guh! said...

Wow! Even though the list of books wasn't for me, thanks, becky! I want to read every one of them - I wish the bookstores were still open, I would start tonight!

11:08 PM  
Anonymous amy said...

i read my sister's keeper. my mom did it for her bookclub and i went along. we all cried a lot.
(simple sentence structure used to emphasize point)

the nanny diaries sounds fabulous... seeing as i'm nannying for a wealthy lincoln park family... but they seem a little more on top of things than the lady in that book!

12:20 AM  
Blogger jennifer said...

Wow. Thanks. Joseph's books are due thursday at the library, so I'll see what I can find then!

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

That's me... the human book-genome project ;)

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Paging Jennifer to my journal--Jennifer to Tiropitakia!

Today was one of *those* days. Students arguing with me over tiny points, "That's not how our teacher grades! She gives us full points if we miss something. I'm going to ask her!", sassy seniors in the halls who think I'm a junior and want to know why I'm asking for passes, and girls with attitudes.

Send coping advice my way, please! :(

5:00 PM  
Blogger TK said...

I've been having no luck with fiction lately (I stay away from non-fiction most of the time because it takes so long to get through a book), so I just reread Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, which I read and loved before. Just as good.

Lately, I'm loving anything by Haruki Murakami, but my favorite is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

I liked Waiting a lot, My Sister's Keeper made me cry (I've read other Picoult, but I don't love her style and I really dislike the font change for every character), and the Nanny Diaries was great (my sister loved it, too, and she's an extremely picky reader) with a few annoying things--does everything need a love story? That's my long agreement to Becky's suggestions.

1:55 PM  
Blogger TK said...

I've been having no luck with fiction lately (I stay away from non-fiction most of the time because it takes so long to get through a book), so I just reread Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, which I read and loved before. Just as good.

Lately, I'm loving anything by Haruki Murakami, but my favorite is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

I liked Waiting a lot, My Sister's Keeper made me cry (I've read other Picoult, but I don't love her style and I really dislike the font change for every character), and the Nanny Diaries was great (my sister loved it, too, and she's an extremely picky reader) with a few annoying things--does everything need a love story? That's my long agreement to Becky's suggestions.

1:58 PM  
Blogger TK said...

I've been having no luck with fiction lately (I stay away from non-fiction most of the time because it takes so long to get through a book), so I just reread Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, which I read and loved before. Just as good.

Lately, I'm loving anything by Haruki Murakami, but my favorite is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

I liked Waiting a lot, My Sister's Keeper made me cry (I've read other Picoult, but I don't love her style and I really dislike the font change for every character), and the Nanny Diaries was great (my sister loved it, too, and she's an extremely picky reader) with a few annoying things--does everything need a love story? That's my long agreement to Becky's suggestions.

2:01 PM  

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