Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Reading List: March

Reading Atonement at the Springs Preserve playplace

I have fallen so behind on posting my books! But don't worry, I haven't fallen behind on the actual reading part, which is more important, wouldn't you say? Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. It's always better to have a recommendation when searching for a book!

March was my record reading month so far - I read 12 books. I wish I could sustain that kind of reading, but unfortunately it's something that ebbs and flows a bit. I'll be lucky if I get 8 this month!

Middlemarch - George Eliot - This one has been on my list since college when one of my professors mentioned he was reading it. It's LONG. But I really liked it. It's a classic, and I love George Eliot (I read Silas Marner in high school and love it - I would recommend that one too!)

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey - This one was a birthday present from my husband. I was a little nervous about it, I'll be honest. I had read a review on it in the Costco Connection magazine and had decided against it. But I totally loved it. It's the story of an elderly couple who haven't been able to have any children, and they build a girl made of snow who comes to life. It's based on the fairytale. It's set in Alaska, where my sister had JUST moved when I read it, and it's beautiful. I fell in love with Mabel, the female protagonist, and it made me want to fly to Alaska immediately. (Also, to visit Lindsay.) I highly recommend this book. It's a little bit of modern fairytale magic.

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald - How have I gotten to age 28 without having read this book? No, I take that back. I was supposed to read it in high school, but I don't think I read the whole thing. It was a quick, short read, and it was way better than I remembered. I won't summarize the plot because probably everyone in the country has read it!

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler - Oh wow, Anne did it again. I LOVED this book. It was a little sad, as many of her books are. It's the story of the Tull family, who is abandoned by their father and find a way to keep going by not really acknowledging that it happened. My favorite character, Ezra, opens a restaurant (hence the title of the book) and hosts repeated attempts at family dinners. It's beautifully written, of course. Probably my favorite book of the month, and in my top 3 Anne Tyler books.

Atonement - Ian McEwan - I read half this book a couple years ago but never made it all the way. This time I was determined to finish it, as I had borrowed the edited version of the film from my in-laws and wanted to read the book before watching the movie. Maybe a poor motivation, but it worked. :) I liked the book, but didn't really care for the movie. This is the first McEwan book I've read, but I'll definitely read another. The writing was beautiful, although the story doesn't have the happy ending I wanted. It's about a girl, Briony, who sees a strange interaction between her sister Cecilia and their gardener's son Robbie. She imagines it to be something it's not and sets in motion a turn of events that changes everyone's lives forever. She writes the book (fictionally, I mean) as "atonement" for her "sin."

Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert - This is the book that started my downhill slope. It really put a damper on my mood and I didn't like it at all. I know it's a classic and there is value in it, but it just made me feel yucky. As far as classics go, this one was not my favorite. Similar to Anna Karenina but not as good. I was sick to death of adultery by the end.

Them - Joyce Carol Oates - I had been wanting to read a Joyce Carol Oates book and there are about 200 to choose from. She's an incredibly prolific writer. I found this interview of her online somewhere and the interviewer asked where she as the author would recommend someone start reading her work. She gave two choices: Them and Blonde. I chose Them, I guess because it was older and the idea behind the book was intriguing. JCO was teaching a writing class and met a student who told her her strange life story, and the book is based on that student's writings. Maybe it was because I had just read Madame Bovary, but I really didn't like this book. I finished it, but I felt like I was dragging myself through every page. It was incredibly depressing. Maybe I should have read Blonde? Anyone have any JCO suggestions?

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - Once again, how have I not read this yet? Unlike Gatsby, this was never required reading for me in all my education. So I'm really glad I took it into my own hands and read it, because I loved it! I read Winter of Our Discontent in college and loved it - Steinbeck is a master. I was another short one - I read it in one sitting before bed one night. I'll make sure my kids read this before they finish high school if nobody else makes them. It raises some important questions.

How it All Began - Penelope Lively - This was a recommendation from Ann Patchett's website. And I hate to say this, but I think she recommended it because the author is a friend of hers. Because honestly, I didn't like this. It was pretty immature writing and just kind of ho-hum. The idea was a good one - exploring how people's lives are all connected - but the execution just wasn't great. It was also written by a British woman (I think) so some of the references were over my head. Oh well.

The Getaway Car - Ann Patchett - Reading this book was like coming up for air after being stuck underwater for too long. Totally refreshing and wonderful! It was short, and it's a "writing book," and it was JUST what I needed. No adultery, no depression, just great little stories and some excellent advice. I love Ann Patchett.

The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling - Another Ann Patchett recommendation. Clearly, I put a lot of stock into what that woman says, and for good reason! This was way better than the Disney movie. You all know the story, but it goes beyond that. There were a couple different stories in there, and they were all excellent. I didn't even feel childish reading about talking animals.

Chloe Cooks - Chloe Coscarelli - This is a cookbook. It might seem strange to put a cookbook on my list, but I decided it counts. I read it from cover to cover (I often do that with cookbooks I love) within a few days, so I read it. It's a vegan cookbook, and it's great. The photography is amazing. After a few months of testing, some of the recipes aren't as good as I would like, but it was worth buying. Random, but there you go.