Monday, January 31, 2011

January Reading


1. The Bard of Bone Plain, Patricia McKillip - Thoroughly satisfying, even if I'm left scratching my head a wee bit as to what exactly happened in the last few pages. It was considerably better than the last couple of books by McKillip, and - as always - her use of language is a treasure. (Even her worst is better than most!) Several of her characters in this book really stood out, and I loved them!

2. And I finally finished My Mother She Killed Me... I know a few of you have already picked up a copy of this brilliant volume of modern fairy tales to read, and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I did!

3. The Painted Boy, Charles De Lint - DeLint has moved away from his Newford books for now, and it's interesting to watch him explore entirely new characters. It perhaps wasn't such a grand idea to read a book set in the desert southwest during a crazy cold, snowy winter as it made me long for something I can't have right now....but that's neither here nor there. My only complaint is that this book seemed to lack the emotional punch most of De Lint's books carry - and I'm not entirely sure why.

4. The Awakened Mage, Karen Miller - I'm perplexed. You might remember that when I finished the first book a couple of months ago I was left with a great deal of reluctance over the second book because of what happened at the end of the first. Miller is a talented writer with an ability to draw you in, and she does write engaging characters. Having said that, I still don't feel as if her work added anything new or interesting to the genre. I liked these books, but then I don't feel as if they were anything special. It's an odd reaction.


1. The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise, Julia Stuart - In a word, delightful! I'd seen the book at B&N, but had never even picked it up so I didn't have a clue as to what it was about. To my delight it was a gem of a book centered around a long marriage and filled with a cast of memorable - and eccentric - characters. It helped that the reader had an amazing English accent appropriate to the setting in the Tower of London. It was both deep and lighthearted, and left me feeling very happy indeed.

2. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen - I think I stumbled onto this book just as the library was making it available in downloadable audio because there wasn't a waiting list - which I would have expected given all of it's buzz. Seriously, isn't everyone reading this...especially after it was let known that Obama had taken it on vacation? A few comments. 1. I realized about 1/2 way through that I didn't like ANY of the characters. They are all rather unsympathetic. (Although I will admit that the female protagonist's autobiographical section is amusing.) 2. It's pretty bad when (around the 2/3 mark) you find yourself wishing that one of the characters would just have a heart attack and die already. 3. If you are going to use an idea as your title, it's perhaps a bit too obvious to then repeatedly smack your readers with long discussions about that idea in which the word gets thrown around way too often. 4. And yet, I listened to the end. The payoff was somewhat satisfying, but overall I'm left with a general sense of meh. I have had some pretty significant prejudices for years against popular contemporary fiction - and this book confirmed most of those issues.

3. Proust Was A Neuroscientist, Jonah Lehrer - Science as explained by art....Or rather, modern science predicted by artistic inspiration. Hmm...maybe the genius of artistic thinking carrying particularly accurate insight into the workings of the mind? Any way you look at it, this is, quite simply, a fascinating book. Each chapter focuses on an artist, explaining their particular insight into the human experience - from memory to taste to how emotion is generated - and then that insight is tied into modern neuroscience, proving why they were right. Fascinating! Now I must go read Whitman and Eliot...although I still have no desire to read Proust. (Lehrer is another RadioLab discovery of mine...and his other book, How We Decide, is also available through our library. I'll be checking it out the next time I'm in the mood for nonfiction!)

4. Middlemarch, George Eliot - The great question is, "How on earth did I manage to get through an honors English degree without ever having read Eliot?" Curious indeed. I actually didn't read any of her work at all until I started using my library's downloadable audiobooks, which converted me immediately into a raving fan. Lehrer reminded me that I've been meaning to read Middlemarch for a long while, and I'm so very glad I did. It was a very satisfying read.

1 comment:

A Day That is Dessert said...

I love your book lists/reviews - keep em coming.