September 21, 2010

Sorted, sundry books ...

my list from the last several months:

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo - charming, spare, minimal, magical, delightful, quirky, sweet.

The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith - the latest in the No. 1 Detective Ladies Agency. fun, light reading.

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean - our ordered copy was backordered for months, so we didn't read this collection of stories til Spring time. I look forward to re-reading this book at Christmas time (little short stories from Old Testament & New Testament, each foretelling the birth of Jesus).

Vilette by Charlotte Bronte - I wanted to like this one, because Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorites; but alas, I did not enjoy this book. There was just not a single character (or at least not a character that took up a significant portion of the book) that I liked. Altho, I did find this book to be interesting from an analysis perspective (many claim that it was written as a complementary companion story of sorts to Jane Eyre).

The Kite Rider
by Geraldine McCaughrean - fantasy fairytale-ish story written around the historical period of 13th Century China. Enjoyed it.

The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. (thank you to Heidi for passing this book on to me) Remarkably well-drawn characters. I re-read entire sections just because the development/description of the character at hand was so well & so intricately done. However, the broken-jump-around presentation of the storyline itself just about drove me batty. Nonetheless, a worthwhile read.

Some thriller by Lisa Scottoline - bleh. ordinary. not terribly sophisticated. won't be reading any of her others.

A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva - thriller/"pulp fiction" genre. wrapped around a powerful Holocaust background story. well-written. I'll probably read more from Silva.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy - hmmmm. another story developed around the Holocaust. not entirely sure how to describe this book. I did NOT like or enjoy it. Parts of it were extremely artistically, beautifully done. Other parts were horrific (duh, Holocaust), but I would argue, gratuitously horrific.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery - the perfect book for my last roadtrip. Good story, good characters. I did liberally skim entire sections (the sections meant to prove to me a certain character's intellect. I was willing to accept her "smarts" on the author's word; didn't want to slog thru the "proof". smirk).

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos - such an original, quirky, delightful book that I was willing to overlook one of my biggest literary pet peeves -- when an author changes narrative voice/perspective mid-scene...

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson - I detested this book on too many levels to enumerate (which is a shame, because I was counting on bringing books 2&3 on our next vacation. Now I need to find something else!). I vented my frustration on one irritating element on Facebook, and quite a discussion resulted. I'll cut & paste some of it here ...

Me: I'm soooo irritated. I've never before read a book with blatant advertising written into the narrative. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's editor/publisher should be ashamed of themselves. So jarring and intrusive. Dislike. Intensely.

Me, follow up, citing example of above rant: "The rucksack contained her white Apple iBook 600 with a 25-gig hard drive and 420 megs of RAM, manufactured in Jan 2002 and equipped with a 14-in screen..." [narrative goes on ad nauseum about death of said iBook - by car running over it, NOT internal failure, duh - and about her backup 5yo Toshiba, but how she needed a "fast, modern machine" and how] "Unsurprisingly she set her sights onf the best available alternative: the new Apple PowerBook G4/1.0 GHz in an aluminum case with a PowerPC 7451 processor with an AltiVec Velocity Engine, 960 MB RAM and a 60 GB hard drive. It had BlueTooth and built-in CD and DVD burners. Best of all, it had the first 17in screen in the laptop world with NVIDIA graphics and resolution of 1440x900 pixels, which shook the PC advocates and outranked everything else on the market."

A few commenters offered possible reasons. And then my brother {Hi Bro!], with all his sarcasm, jumped in and suggested that with the onslaught of TIVO that "ad execs have to get creative. As long as my Apple shares keep rising, I am cool with it."

Me: bite your tongue! The ends (=Apple ads in TGWTDT) do not justify the means (=$$ in your pocket) in this situation!!!! We already live in a society saturated with marketing efforts (on tv, radio, billboards, advertising screens at gas/dr./dentist/grocery-check-outs, unsolicited junk mail & email, in movies, at the beginning of dvds, etc). I do NOT welcome advertising in "literature". At all.

Bro: But with the extra money I can buy more books ;-)

[ok, I must admit, this *IS* compelling reasoning ... snort]

Bro: By the way, I think all your friends should buy IPhones, IPads and Mac Books. Great products everyone should have ;-P

So, there you have it. My brother (an APPL shareholder), and apparently the publishers of TGWTDT, want you to buy Apple. I don't care if you buy Apple or not. I just don't recommend buying ... or begging/borrowing/stealing, much less reading ... The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Ick, blech, phtooey. If you want a good Pulp-Fiction Thriller, get Mallory's Oracle (and the rest of the series) by Carol O'Connell.

Oh, and since we've just had a discussion on [unwelcome] advertising, in full disclosure ... I am NOT paid for my literary endorsements!! These opinions are wholely & unbiasedly mine.

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Tracey said...

I love this post. I am going to have to refer back to it. I have almost picked up The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on several occasions but have seen the same sort of comments as yours , plus I heard it was graffic in parts. Your review just cemented it for me. Have you read Peace Like a River by Leif Enger? Quite possibly my most favorite book.

Skeller said...

Never even heard of it, Tracey, but I just read the synopsis and dropped it in my Amazon cart :-). Thank you for the recommendation!

Tracey said...

His second book "So Brave Young and Handsome" is good too, but PLaR is so beautifully written it brought tears to my eyes I had to re-read certain parts, put it down and soak it in. Oh to write like that one day!
I believe you will enjoy it. I rarely own books but this one is on my shelf.

Life with Kaishon said...

Thank you for the ideas! Always on the lookout for brilliant reads.

Kathryn said...

Yay! I love a good list of book recommendations. I read "The Help" this summer and just haven't found one to "grab" me like that one did. I wrote several of these titles down to give them a try.

Shauna_Rae said...

I was going to suggest "The Help", but see that someone beat me to it. LOVED it!

Melissa Stover said...

i love a good book list and one with a few to avoid!