Saturday, August 31, 2013

August - This Month in Reading

I managed to read a few more books than I had planned for this month - hooray! I read a total of 7 books, which was more than the goal of reading at least 4. I also made my goal of finishing my library books and of reading books from the TBR pile, one of which counted toward the Color-Coded Reading Challenge, so that's good.

On the down side, I didn't manage to read any of the actual TBR Pile Challenge books in August, but it's OK - my plan for September is to read 4 of these books for sure, and of course more if possible.

Longtime readers know that Fall (autumn) is my favorite time of year, and that Fall starts on September 1 in my mind, so BRING IT ON! I hate summer and I am thrilled to see another one end at midnight tonight. I'm ready for all the wonderful things Fall brings - cool weather; beautiful colorful leaves; sweaters and jackets; acorns, pinecones, and pumpkins; Halloween; pumpkin spice latte; school supplies in all the stores; etc. etc. etc. I couldn't be happier right now!

What is your plan for Fall reading?

G0ing R0gue - Sarah Pal1n

My sister in law sent me this book as a joke several years ago, and it's been gathering dust on the TBR shelves ever since. One reason for that was that I hate, loathe, despise politics, and have never been interested in them (I like literature, language, culture - things that can bring people together, not things that easily divide them on purpose). Having read this ghostwritten book now, I can honestly say that if you are a fan of the author, you will most likely continue to be a fan after reading this, and if you are a detractor, you will not change your mind after reading this. The best thing I can say about reading it is that I am now finished reading it LOL

If you're wondering, I didn't want to write the book's title or author's name in the title of this post because I don't want anyone searching for this book to find this site and infest it with politics. Yes, I am paranoid and it's silly, but I really hate politics that much, and it's WAY outside the scope of this blog to discuss them here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lost and Found - Carolyn Parkhurst

Yet another book that I think I saw on the bargain shelves at Borders every time I visited the store. I picked it up numerous times; the premise seemed interesting and I was intrigued by the characters, but I never actually bought the book until the last days sales. Having finally read it, it was enjoyable, and although the point of view switched between first-person narratives of many different characters, I thought the author did a nice job of differentiating them, so they didn't all sound the same. There were some things I was unsure of - one character seems to change and it's unclear why or what caused it; there are some implausible things but no more than in many other novels, I suppose. All in all it was a quick, enjoyable read worth the 60 cents I ended up paying for it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Goldengrove - Francine Prose

This book takes its title from a poem I loved when I was younger and had put down in a book in which I'd handwrite poems I liked. I had sort of forgotten about the poem to be honest, and then seeing it on the page instantly reminded me of how much I liked it, and now that I'm (much) older, I see more in it than I did when I was younger, etc.

I can't transfer the way I feel about the poem to the way I feel about this book, unfortunately. It wasn't awful or anything, but... One of the many things I crammed into this summer was a writing class. I think I'm an decent judge of what constitutes poor writing in general, but this class has really made me more aware of things like a critique I have of this book - the narrator is supposed to be a 13 year old girl, but sounds like an adult. In addition, the characters all sounded very similar to me, despite differences in age, etc. Having now brushed with attempted writing myself, I know it's difficult to write dialogue and have that dialogue "sound" different for different speakers, etc., but as a beginner I give myself more slack than with experienced, published authors. So I have mixed feelings about this book. Sorry I can't be more definitive on this one!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I'm Feeling Lucky - Douglas Edwards

The subtitle of this book is The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 and as that subtitle suggests, is an insider's view of working in the marketing department at Google in its early days. I would have loved a little bit more dirt, which is suggested by the word "Confessions," but that's just the voyeur in me. I probably use Google every day, and have for years, so it was interesting to read about how it came to be and how it grew, why it's such a good search engine (I try others now and again and I'm always disappointed, while I'm generally very pleased with Google's pertinent results), how the Doodles developed, the origin of gmail and even Blogger, etc.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Green Hills of Africa - Ernest Hemingway

As an English major, I have read other works by Hemingway, but hadn't read any of his nonfiction. This book was sort of an assignment for a class I took this summer. The writing was clear and I was able to visualize the situations and the setting well, but overall this wasn't something up my street, as they say. It's all about hunting, which I am not a fan of, and hunting circa the 1930s, which was all about blowing away as many animals as possible, which I am not a fan of, not to mention the rather racist and sexist "norms" of that era, which I am not a fan of. Of course, Papa somehow anticipates my reaction by including a paragraph toward the end of the book about how he justifies hunting because the meat gets eaten, the skin and etc. are valuable and kept, and that we all die anyway, etc. etc., and he isn't wrong; I was actually impressed by this paragraph, since it seemed so modern there among all the 1930s attitude and social norms. So that stopped my grumbling to some degree, ha ha. So overall my impression was... well, not overly enthusiastic, I guess. Writing = great, topic = meh. This book did make me want to fill in the gaps on Hemingway's fiction someday, though, if I ever clear the TBR pile.

As a bonus, this book counts for the Color-Coded Reading Challenge - hooray!

I will now resume reading the books that make up my Everest-size TBR pile. I think I will try to focus on some challenge reading for the rest of the month, since I am behind - wish me luck!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Fabulist - Stephen Glass

The other day while Internet surfing I found out about a runner who apparently cheats at marathons, although no one can figure out exactly how, and he hasn't admitted to doing so. This man even went so far as to make up races, creating race websites and phony results for imaginary runners. What kind of a person does that? I can see wanting to win a marathon, but to go to the lengths a person would have to go to cheat at a marathon, or to make one up, seems like more work than just running the marathon and not worrying about placing in your age group or whatever.

The cheating runner made me think about Stephen Glass. I have to confess that for some reason I love the movie Shattered Glass, which is based on the true story of Glass, a former journalist who was caught making up quotes, people, and even events in his stories, some of which were completely made up. I thought maybe reading this book, a supposed work of fiction but really a sort of retelling of Glass getting caught and fired and then his life for a couple months after that, would give some insight into why someone would cheat/lie. That was not the case. In fact, I have to say that if his writing for The New Republic was as poor as the writing on display in this book, I seriously question the people who didn't immediately sense that it was fiction - and poorly done fiction at that.

One might think that someone who lies compulsively could come up with a great work of fiction, but this was not even "good." The dialogue sounds phony, most of the events make little sense - I think sometimes this is meant to be funny, but it's just stupid. For such a skilled liar, Glass can't keep track of details at all. Does the apartment building have a doorman or not? How could you see Syl's bikini when she's wearing a hoodie that goes past her waist and then a couple lines later she removes the jeans she now has on? The story goes so far off the rails in the last 30 or so pages that it's breathtaking. What's baffling to me is that the events in the book will begin in a way that seems very realistic, and then you can see Glass adding nonsense and silliness as he continues to describe what is happening, so that as a reader my mind kept catching on this fluff and thinking - what? And of course, there was no real explanation or motivation offered. This book was not worth reading, I'm afraid.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ella Minnow Pea - Mark Dunn

What a fun yet thought-provoking book! It reminded me of James Thurber's The Wonderful O, but with a darker subtext. This book was deceptively deep and I will be thinking about its message, and what exactly I think that message is/was, for a while now. Recommended.