Been a while since I recapped my reading habits, hasn’t it? I can never actually remember if I’ve included all of the books or not. I used to be in the habit of keeping paper copy of a book journal and it’s clear that I should really get back in that habit.
Inferno Dan Brown
Dan Brown is one of David’s favorite ‘Easy Reads’ so when he finished this book he tossed it my way. I have a hard time taking Dan Brown seriously–I think a great Dan Brown drinking game would include 1 drink for every Mickey Mouse watch reference, 1 drink per tweed reference, 1 shot every time the day could have been saved by a quick Google search. You catch my drift. No seriously, though, even if I mock the book the entire time I read it, I did read the entire thing. It was a fun. At one point David talked me into making a video recording my (somewhat drunken) prediction of what I thought was going to happen. It should be noted that I’m a notorious over thinker when it comes to Dan Brown’s plots, a fact that had David secretly laughing at me for days before I finished the book.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Anthony Marra
My mom tossed this book my way after she read it, fell in love with it, brought it to her book club, and had them all return their copies to her. Those ladies are missing out, though, because I did find this to be a great book. The main protagonist, though, is my absolute least favorite character in the whole story. She seems to be the link to connect first world women who lead very safe lives to the war-torn countryscape in the book, and to me that comes across so dismissive. Like, you can only understand the pain of the other characters through her pain. As if their pain is something that wouldn’t be considered worthwhile enough without the connection of someone from “our world”. It’s really unfortunate, too, because the rest of the story was very beautiful and heartbreaking and very well written.
The Defining Decade Meg Jay, PhD
My sister and I both received copies of this book as a (Christmas?) gift. I *coughawkwardcough* may have ignored it entirely and may *cough even joked about how I never wanted to read it because who reads those trumped up self help books anyway. My sister read it, though, and assured me it was great and I’d like it and I should totally give it a shot. So I did. I totally get why it resonated with my sister–she is a very linear, rule-oriented and driven person and I’ve never had any doubt about how much success (stereotypical and otherwise) her life is*. To me, though, in light of my very non linear and messy, unstructured lifestyle, it basically felt like chapter after chapter after chapter of telling me that not only am I doing everything wrong, but that I’m already falling behind on every being able to “catch up” to my peers’ successes. I mean, sure I knew the book wasn’t going to tell me to give myself a pat on the back. I’m unemployed, forchrissake. The only thing I am doing right, according to the book, is develop of a deep committed relationship before I hit 30. And even that I managed to screw up, since David and I have no plans of ever marrying. Whoops!
We Need New Names NoViolet Bulawayo
This was a really powerful book that did an amazing job of sharing the world of a girl who was born and raised in Zimbabwe until she’s a preteen, when she gets sent to live in Michigan with her aunt. The story alone is really amazing, but way it was written just blows my mind. Bulawayo has a very strong control over her writing, and was able to use the shape of her words to add different colors to different parts of the story.
Empire Star Samuel R Delany
I read this yesterday. It’s just a novella tacked on to the back of Babel-17 but man oh man. I love Delany. He’s just my favorite writer. I was about halfway through when David asked me how it was going. “Does it make any sense?” he joked, since it’s our little inside joke that Delany writes nothing intelligible unless you’re high on something or other. The weird thing, though, was his writing was the clearest I’ve ever seen. The story was easy to track, the cultures and over arching plot all made sense and things seemed easy. Then I hit the last twenty or so pages and I’m still dizzy for turning my head around.
Babel-17 Samuel R Delany
Sometimes I feel like when I write a review of a Delany book, I should actually just write “i love delany” like twenty times over and call it good. It would be about as effective and, unfortunately, about as interesting. I feel like the goal of a science fiction writer is to play with concepts in their current culture, stretching them and twisting them and drawing them out into stories that explore or try to explain how people react to.. to whatever there is to react to. That rambling thought has a point, I promise. Delany writes like someone who played the what if game, and then started writing before he finished the thought. It’s messy, but he draws you in and makes you a part of the original questions that sparked the story. In this one he played with the idea of language, of how much it shapes your identity, and vice versa. It’s embarrassing to admit that I feel like I missed a bit of the plot because at times it felt like more of a distraction than the primary point for reading.
*I am sooo not being sarcastic. Not in the least. I’m very proud of my sister and think she rocks. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people who have lives similar to hers and successes like hers. If you read that book and find it helpful, then that’s awesome. My main critique with that book was how it’s roadmap for how to live seemed it exclude any other possibility.