Friday, March 30, 2012

My Reading List: February

Another month of reading to report. I'm a little behind, obviously, since March is almost over, but here's my February reading!

On Writing by Stephen King. I absolutely loved this book. I had heard great things about it from everyone I know who's read it, and they were right. It was good advice and good stories at the same time. It's a writing book, not a novel - it's perfect for anyone who wants to be a writer!
Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling. This classic movie that I've loved my whole life actually started out as a play! I was working on a story about a group of women and wanted to read this a inspiration. I was pleasantly surprised that the movie follows the original dialogue verbatim. It was quick - probably about 50 pages or less - and fun. Made me want to watch the movie again, and I could hear Sally Fields' and Dolly Parton's voices in my head the whole time!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Oh, Anna Karenina. She became a household name during the almost 2 months it took me to get through this almost 900-page monstrosity. Eva would say, "Are you reading Anina Karenina again?" Inevitably, I was reading it all the time trying to be done with it. I'm proud to say I finished it and can add it to my list of major accomplishments. It was worth reading, although a little lengthy.
Celestial Navigation by Anne Tyler. My monthly dose of Anne. This one did not have the ending I wanted. I read it through quickly and was sitting in my room at night on my bed when I finished it. After reading the last paragraph with utter disbelief, I threw the book on the floor and said, "Seriously, Anne??" But of course, since it was Anne Tyler, it wasn't a disappointment in the long run. After I had time to think it through, I agreed with the ending. It made sense, although it wasn't "happpy" in the traditional sense. It's the story of a handicapped man (never says exactly what his handicap is) and his strange relationship with a woman. That's a pathetic blurb, I know. But I recommend it, despite the ending. (I have yet to read an Anne Tyler that I would NOT recommend.)
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Sprout. This is actually a collection of short stories, which was a first for me in my reading life, all involving in some way the character of Olive Kitteridge. The writing was beautiful, I loved the characters (especially Olive), and I put Elizabeth Sprout's newer book, Amy and Isabelle, on my to-read list because I loved her writing so much. I definitely recommend this book. 
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. Another classic purchased in college with lofty intentions and a future of collecting dust on my bookshelf. It's short, though, and I thought after Anna Karenina, I could do ANYTHING. I finished reading it in line at Disneyland and enjoyed it - anything you can read in the happiest place on earth has to be pretty good. It's set in England in the late 1800s, I think, and is about a girl named Lucy who "faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson--who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist--Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor, and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion. The enduring delight of this tale of romantic intrigue is rooted in Forster's colorful characters, including outrageous spinsters, pompous clergymen and outspoken patriots." Thank you, Amazon, for that summary. It is incredibly painful for me to try to sum up a book in a few sentences. Anyway, if you like reading classics, this is a good one.
Persuasion by Jane Austen. Poor Jane must sit up in heaven and look down at the masses clamoring over Pride and Prejudice and want to scream, "I wrote other books, you know!" Sometimes I want to scream that for her. I took a class in college solely on the works of Jane Austen and was able to broaden my Austen horizons considerably. Thankfully, because Persuasion is my favorite one, surpassing even the untouchable P&P. It's short and wonderful with just the happy ending you want and all the suspense (will he? won't he?) that you expect from a good love story. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Divergent by Veronica Roth. This was our book club selection for the month and I was skeptical at first. I don't mean to be a book snob, but deep down I am. I took it to CA (on my Kindle) and ended up reading 95% of it lounging on the beach, which is the perfect way to read anything. This is similar to Hunger Games - it's that type of a book. Although the writing wasn't anything to sing about, I actually really got into the story. It's YA fiction, so the story is intense and easy to follow. The sequel is coming out May 1 (Insurgent) and I do plan on reading it.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I think I have a definite THING for authors named Ann. My first Ann Patchett book was Bel Canto, in college. Literally, I read the first paragraph and started crying, it was so beautifully written. (Could have been hormones or being 19, I know, but it REALLY was good.) Andrew bought State of Wonder on his Kindle while he was in Iraq and didn't like the ending, so I was slower to get to it because of his discouraging comments. When I finally did read it, I wondered why I had stopped reading Ann Patchett. I need her in my life. And I didn't hate the ending. The next day (!!) I saw Ann Patchett on the Colbert Report and fell even more in love with her. Since then I have started following her blog and requesting everything she recommends at the library. I just may have to make an Ann Patchett book a monthly treat too!

9 books in February, including some pretty good reading on family vacation - I was pleased with the month.

I was thrilled after my January post when a couple people asked me about Anne Tyler books. Stacey borrowed one and I had one sent to my poor sister Lindsay, who just had a baby. In Alaska. I told Andrew it's worth all the work of posting (including those dumb little pictures) if one person reads a book I recommended. Sorry my little blips about the books are so totally pathetic - I'm not trying to do a real review, more of just a list. (If you want to read REAL book reviews, visit my friend Trevor's blog. Seriously? It puts my ramblings to shame.)

If you read anything on my list, please let me know how you like it! I'd also love any recommendations. 100 books leaves a lot of room for extras on the list!


Elise said...

I love reading your recommendations!

Can't wait to check some of the books out from the library--especially the Anne Tyler ones since I hadn't even HEARD of her :).

Marelize said...

As a Jane Austen lover, I have to say that I feel the same way about P&P. And Persuasion is my favorite! Love it.

Perry, Christi and Logan said...

I love that you have started writing on your blog again! Eva's party looked so cute! Bet they had a blast!

Michelle said...

Yeah. Persuasion is amazing. I love Mansfield Park too.

Sherry said...

This is Trevor's wife, Sherry. Have you tried Wharton? She's easily my favorite American novelist. The woman's got skill, and a really sharp tongue. Trevor and I differ on favorites. I prefer House of Mirth, he's partial to Age of Innocence. The latter is definitely better written, but I prefer the tone and story line of Mirth.

I'd also recommend The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Another brilliant book by another female writer.

Also, as a writer of YA, I think you should try some of the literary YA. A very beautiful title is A Northern Lights. It's a familiar storyline, but well-done. And, for a really fascinating and brilliant look at contemporary YA, try the Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Trevor and one of his blog friends both reviewed it on their blogs. E. Lockhart is incredibly good at what she does, and that title hits on a lot of deeper issues while still keeping a very real voice.

Chanel said...

Funny that you just read Persuasion. I just finished a very easy, but cute, different take on the classic story called Persuasion: a Latter-day tale. It is a quick easy read, but I thought it would be fun to read an lds author's book ( it has been awhile since I've tried one) I also just finished First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia remembers. If you have not read this I highly recommend it. I can not believe that these things happens in my lifetime and I had no idea! I look forward to reading one of your suggestions. My goal is not as lofty as yours, but I plan to make time for myself and read a book a month this year. So far I am on target with book # 6 almos done ( the crucible).

Johnathon Webb said...

I just bought a ticket to Anna Karenina to watch the play here in Moscow, come fly out, the tickets are only 7 dollars!