Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April - This Month in Reading

Well, April ended up being a vast improvement over March, even if it's sad that a "vast improvement" included only 4 books! But even with my rudimentary math skills, I know that 4 > 0, so I'm claiming it as a victory.

I didn't set a goal for April at the end of March, but for May I would like to read at least 1 book for each challenge I have going, and also to finish a bunch of books I have somehow started and then set down unfinished. This is just plain silly, and I need to stop doing it, as it's just putting me behind in my reading, since I'm flitting from book to book instead of just finishing one already.

How has your reading been?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Neanderthal - John Darnton

Another book that I would call a "serviceable thriller." It was about what I expected - a classic "bestseller" type book. The real mystery of this book is that I got it from a coworker, "S," who sold a bunch of books for 5 cents each (Mr. K of course said "why didn't S just give them away?" and I couldn't give him a good answer!) before a move. Although I don't claim to know S all that well, he strikes me as a very intelligent person in general and I don't picture him purchasing books like this. Maybe it was a gift or something, or he joined one of those book clubs where you get four books for $1 each but then you have to buy a book at full price, and he got cornered into buying this one. Who knows. I wouldn't want to seem like a jerk for asking S about it, plus this happened more than 5 years ago now so he probably doesn't even remember.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe

I saw this book on every visit to Borders for a year or so, and kept picking it up because the premise seemed intriguing, and then deciding I was too cheap to buy it. I was able to pick it up for under $1 during the Borders last day sales, and finally got around to reading it. I liked the book overall, but I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. I liked the flashbacks, particularly because the reader gets to see what daily life in the late 17th century may have been like. All in all, there were some things in the book I felt unsure about... For example, the story is set in 1991, but no particular reason is given for this, so it feels arbitrary - or maybe it was used to remove a "use the Internet to get information in seconds, which will solve your mystery" potential plothole.  Something happens at the end of the book that I feel like I must have misunderstood or something, but it could just be that ... who knows. So while I enjoyed it for what it was, and it certainly wasn't the worst book I have ever read, it wasn't a new favorite or something.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Toughest Indian in the World - Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is an author I've been meaning to read for a while, but didn't get around to reading until I was finally lucky enough to stumble on this book on my office's book exchange shelves. As I've said so many times it's an annoying cliche at this point, I am not usually a big fan of short stories, but there were some here that I really enjoyed. Alexie has a way of creating characters that can be unappealing on the surface and yet have enough underlying humanity that you want to read more about them. I also liked that he was able to explore different genres and styles in the stories. As with any story collection, I liked some quite a bit more than others, and I'd definitely check out his other writing.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Inexpensive Books for 2013

I thought I already did this, but apparently not, as I can't find a post for it. I'll keep track of inexpensive books I have read this year. For some reason I like doing that and it helps me feel better about book spending.

1. Charley's Web - Joy Fielding (less than $1 book from Borders last days sale)
2. Man and Boy - Tony Parsons (free book from neighbor)
3. The White Hound of the Mountain and Other Irish Folk Tales - Thomas J. Kiernan ($1 Library Sale book)
4. The Consequence of Skating - Steven Gillis ($1 Borders last days sale book)
5. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides (50 cent Library Sale book)
6. Zoya's Story - Zoya with John Follain and Rita Cristofari (50 cent Library Sale book)
7. The Toughest Indian in the World - Sherman Alexie (free book from office book exchange shelves)
8. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe (less than $1 book at Borders last day sales)
9. Neanderthal - John Darnton (5 cent book from coworker)
10. Cold Zero - Christopher Whitcomb (free book from neighbor)
11. Marcus of Umbria - Justine van der Leun ($1 Borders last days sale book)
12. Years of Red Dust - Qiu Xiaolong ($1 Borders last days sale book)
13. Grand Ambition - Lisa Michaels (50 cent Library Sale book)
14. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski (50 cent Library Sale book)
15. The Finder - Colin Harrison ($1 Borders last days sale book)

Zoya's Story - Zoya with John Follain and Rita Cristofari

It routinely makes me both sad and furious that there are so many horrible, sick, evil people in the world. Books like this one, which is subtitled An Afghan Woman's Struggle for Freedom, give me hope. I so admire women like Zoya, who literally risk their lives to help others and to fight injustice perpetrated by horrible, sick, evil people. I hope for the best for her, her country, her people, and the people who work alongside her to help others.

Side note - it doesn't escape my notice that those of us who feel secure in our supposedly "enlightened" Western world have work to do as well. We may not face the daily horrors faced by women under the rule of monsters (and I am truly thankful every day for that), but we live in a "civilization" that decrees that gifted, talented writers like J.K. Rowling and D.C. Fontana (to name two off the top of my head) can't publish under their full names because "boys won't buy books by female authors, they'll write the books off as 'girl books.'" Not to mention some of the public figures who make shocking comments that denigrate women - but that is straying way too far from the purpose of this blog. I guess my point is we all need to work for human rights and fight injustice and "backwards thinking" wherever we may live.