Monday, April 30, 2012

April - This Month in Reading

I had a post written and then some kind of technical problem occurred, and it disappeared. I am too lazy to type it again, so I will say that I fell short of my end-of-March reading goal of 10 books, managing only 8, but on the plus side I did read a book for each challenge, including my Around the World Challenge, so at least I finally got that started.

For May I have to read at least 10 books, because my insanely large TBR pile is not getting smaller at the rate I would like, and I miss reading! So that plus continuing to work on the challenges will be my goal.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Of Ducks and Universes - Neve Maslakovic

First heard of this book on another book blog I enjoy, Project Author, and thought I sounded intriguing, so I asked for it as a Yuletime gift. I was not disappointed, this is a really fun book. I really liked the narrator a lot, and in fact I hope that someday we get another book about him. The premise was fascinating if a little mind-bending at times, and it seems to allow for an infinite number of possible new plots and characters, etc. I liked the story threads that were tied together, and the references to other authors' works (that I now want to check out). All around, a great read and highly recommended.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Timequake - Kurt Vonnegut

Not 100% sure what to make of this book. It seems like a mixture of autobiographical elements with some quasi-surreal fiction elements which is actually rather entertaining, even if it is somewhat perplexing. It's almost like an expanded essay or speech, more than a novel; or a speech that has been intermingled with a novel. In any case, I enjoyed reading it and getting a glimpse into the mind of a celebrated American writer.  I still have many more Vonnegut works to read and it will be interesting to see how this stacks up.

The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson

As a fan of the turn of the 20th Century and of Chicago, I was interested to read a book about events that took place in the late 1890s. I knew nothing about the World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893, and the story of how the fair came to be was interesting, but ultimately the interwoven story of Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer, was more interesting to me in general. Apparently there are other books written about this man and his crimes, and I may seek them out when I have gotten more of a handle on my TBR pile. In any case, this was a well researched book and I enjoyed reading it. Recommended.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

This book might have been a favorite for me if I had read it as an adolescent or college student. Even so, I liked it quite a bit more than I anticipated I would, and I do wish I had read it sooner (it's been on the TBR shelf for a long time). I think I feared that it would be depressing but it wasn't, even though it definitely depicted what we might call clinical depression nowadays very vividly and realistically. Apparently it was originally written in the late 1950s and frankly any woman who wasn't depressed back then was lucky indeed. I doubt that there has ever been a truly wonderful time to be a woman throughout history, but I think the mid-20th century must have been particularly difficult, because there was an illusion of possibilities that didn't really exist. Recommended.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

True Grit - Charles Portis

What an amazing book! I confess that as much as I try to read a book that's been made into a movie before I see a movie, quite often I fail. In this case, I haven't seen the original movie, which stars John Wayne, but I have seen the excellent Coen Brothers version of this book, and I immediately loved the character of Mattie Ross. I can say the book more than lived up to my expectations and only enhanced my love for this character. Highly recommended.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Touching the Void - Joe Simpson

The subtitle of this book is The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival and it's just that - a gripping account of a mountain climbing accident and the miraculous survival of a man who was thought to be dead. The writing was well done and made me, as the reader, able to imagine the excruciating circumstances of the author's struggle to survive a life-threatening accident and its aftermath.

Yellow Crocus - Laila Ibrahim

Found this book on NetGalley and it was a perfect fit for the Color Coded Reading Challenge, so I let it jump over some of the other TBR books. I enjoyed the story of two women, one a free white woman and the other an African American slave, whose lives are entwined. It was an enjoyable, fast read, despite descriptions of pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and nursing that were a little intense for me (I don't have kids). It made an interesting companion read to To Be a Slave, as a fictionalized account of life in the southern US when slavery was still practiced.

My Name Is Red - Orhan Pamuk

Another book I got at a substantial discount at Borders last September, this is the first book I have finished for my Around the World Challenge - hooray! Set in Istanbul in the late 1500s, the story that unfolds is told in alternating first-person accounts by various characters and even, sometimes, inanimate objects. I really enjoyed this narrative structure, as it felt like a natural way for the story, which is part murder mystery, part love story, and part a description of how art was viewed by people in this time and place, to unfold. I have another book by the same author as one of my TBR Challenge books, and now I'm looking forward to getting to that sooner rather than later. Recommended.