May 9, 2016

April & May's Books

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate - oh goodness, this book is all kinds of sweet, sad, delightful, quirky, poignant, clever, artful.  A quick, wonderful read.

Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (cheap Kindle upload) - I was all itchy-scratchy a couple days before bookclub without a book. I mean, I have a whole stack of books. But I only had 3 days before next book club, and I just wanted something not too long and not too "heavy" or "dark". And none of my stack fit those parameters. So I swung by the library after church to find something. Apparently not open on Sundays anymore. :-/ And then I read Heidi's blog with her latest book list. And then Greensleeves hopped onto my Kindle. You know I'm desperate when I buy the Kindle version instead of opting for the two day wait for the book :-}.  And it was the perfect piece of cotton candy to fill the days before I had to jump into Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.

Red-Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt (for graphic novel bookclub) - Just finished my first reading/viewing of this book.  Methinks I'll probably read it at least once more to weave together all the pieces and see the stuff I missed first time through.  My first impression: Count of Monte Cristo mashed up with Virginia Woolf's stream of consciousness and Kurt Vonnegut's time coming unstuck - the modern, artsty-illustrated version.

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie King - there are only two authors whose books I regularly prowl for throughout the year and pre-order indiscriminately.  Laurie King is one of those.  I adore her Mary Russell series.  And when I get a new book in my hands, I become completely negligent in all my daily areas of "to-do" from page one til page last.  This particular narrative creates the whole backstory of Mrs. Hudson and one of the Irregulars, and how their lives initially intersected with that of Sherlock Holmes, and how their past explosively collides with their present.  Sooooooo good.  Soooooo enjoyable.  Now I have to start prowling again...

The Marriage of Mary Russell by Laurie King - (short story, cheap Kindle upload)  I prowled, I found.  I stayed happily negligent for another afternoon.  :-)

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (bookclub selection) - oh my.  Dense.  SO DENSE.  And a bit tricky to read.  I'm aware that my mind sometimes wanders as I read, and I occasionally skim slow or boring or tedious parts of books.  Woolf's writing style allows no such dereliction of attention.  Her "stream of consciousness" form means that I am constantly trying to figure out whose head (narratively speaking) I'm in, where I am, and is the time past, present, or possibly future?  Woolf will blithely and liberally change all these elements, even mid-sentence.  There are no "breaks", no chapters, no cues that a change is coming.  Anywhoo, I'm glad I read this (it *IS* good - the writing alone - the way the words were meticulously strung together - is MASTERFUL), but I won't be hurrying read anything else by Virginia Woolf anytime soon.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (library) - this was my point-counterpoint book, my knee-jerk book, my I-just-read-something-classic-and-dense-and-difficult and now I-need-something-light-and-fluffy-and-EASY book.  So in the midst of Virginia Woolf density, I ran to the library and grabbed a bunch of fluff, including a couple Jennifer Smith books, The Jane Austen Book Club, and a couple Kate Mortons.  The Smith stories were skimmable and "meh".  I discarded the Jane Austen 30 pages in (blech), and then dug into The Secret Keeper with expectation of something better (after all, I've read and not-loved-but-LIKED her first three books).  I gave The Secret Keeper a 300 page chance before abandoning it.  Flat, boring, unbelievable characters.  Wordy, plodding, unbelievable storyline.  Her liberal and ineffective use of figures of speech after Virginia Woolf's genius use of the same was simply unpalatable.  Phtooey.  So, welcome to my merry-go-round:  I work hard to get thru a classic, then crave something simple, and then have a tremendously difficult time finding something that's both simple and GOOD.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - I'd seen the movie and a friend read & loved the book and passed it along to me.  Bill Bryson is indeed an amusing writer.  And I enjoyed the same parts in the book that I enjoyed in the movie (all the Bill & Katz parts), but I skimmed liberally over the more non-fiction-y parts.  Yes, I *get* that the whole book is non-fiction.  But, you know, some parts read more like story (Bill & Katz adventures), and some parts read more like ... non-fiction/history/ecology/documentary/blahblahblah.  I skipped those parts :-}.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (bookclub selection) - "Vanity Fair is the work of a mind, at once accomplished and subtle, which has enjoyed opportunities of observing many and varied circles of society. . . his genteel characters... have a reality about them... They are drawn from actual life, not from books and fancy; and they are presented by means of brief, decisive yet always most discriminative touches" ... so says one of my fav authors, Charlotte Bronte, whose admiration for his genius was boundless; she called Thackeray "the legitimate high priest of Truth".  George Eliot, another of my favs, and apparently another who held Thackeray in high regard, said "I am not conscious of being in any way a disciple of his, unless it constitute discipleship to think him, as I suppose the majority of people with any intellect do, on the whole, the most powerful of living novelists".   I'm only 200 pages in, but I'm very much enjoying this novel and Thackeray's very snarky, very present & personal, all-knowing, comment-on-everything, narratorial voice.  

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery - Sweet, old-fashioned, charming ... and yes, totally overwrought with drama/emotion as typical of Lucy Montgomery & her delightful character Anne of Green Gables ... and happily-ever-after.  Sometimes that's just the very perfect book equation.

1 comment:

Anita Johnson said...

I liked the book, A walk in the Woods