Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Sportswriter - Richard Ford : I've been wanting to read Independence Day by Richard Ford - seeing as it won the Pulitzer and all. The Sportwriter is the prequel, so I thought I better start there. Big mistake. This is the story of Sportwriter Frank Bascombe, recently divorced and grieving the death of his son. In the same vein as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, the characters in this book were just way too self-absorbed and I had difficulty caring what happened to Frank. Of course, I already bought "Independence Day" so I will have to see if he can redeem himself. November has been a good month for me to finish up books I started long ago and were only half-way through. I don't usually read this many books in a month!! I'm just sad I haven't read anything that I absolutely love for awhile.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being* - Milan Kundera This one took me awhile to slog through. I felt like there were chapters/scenes that went quickly, and others that I simply could not focus on (this seems to be a reoccuring theme with me - and reflects more on my concentration levels recently, than on the substance of the novels I'm reading)...but, basically this book revolves around the relationships of four couples - there relationships among each other, concepts of fidelity and love...I feel like this would be a good book for a discussion group - lots of weighty themes and moments of recognition. I started reading this right after I finished A Multitude of Sins - a collection of short stories by Richard Ford - all about marital infidelity. I think it was too much on the same topic all at once for me. But, wonderful writing style - a little too asbstract for my recent tastes.

(* - listed in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs Series - Book 1) This is the first in the Maisie Dobb's detective series...after reading a few in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, I was excited to start a new series about a female Sherlock Holmes. This one is set in late 1920s and features a former wartime nurse turned sleuth. Winspear is definitely more "literary" than Smith, but I found myself trying too hard to figure out what was going on. My mind kept wandering and it took awhile to get into the rhythm of the book. Ultimately, I enjoyed the mystery, but thought I had to get through too much to appreciate the story. That being said, I think I'll still try to tackle the next one in the series.

On Beauty* - Zadie Smith I read this for the Stanford Book took about 100 pages for me to get into it, but then I really started to enjoy the story of a mixed-race family living in the shadow of an upper-class university. I did not think this was as good as her first novel White Teeth, but it was much more enjoyable than Howard's End, the E.M. Forster book it is based on.

(* - listed in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die)

Meely LeBauve - Ken Wells The story of a 15-year old boy growing up in the Louisiana Bayou. This is a coming of age book about a boy with no mother, and an alcoholic gator-hunter of a father always on the run from the law. It seemed like something a teenage boy would enjoy reading, very quick and funny - in the same vein as Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life and Old School.

The God of Small Things* - Arundhati Roy I read this book about 8 years ago, and decided to read it again for the Stanford On-line Book Group. It's the story of twins growing up in India - their family relations and a tragedy involving their cousin and mother. While I enjoyed the basic plot of this story, I found the writing difficult to get through. While beautiful at times, it mostly seemed to be trying too hard. I've been reading a lot of Indian authors lately, and the basic themes seem to carry through many of the books. For other books set in India/about Indian families, I recommend A Fine Balance and Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry, as well as The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (which I was probably the last person in the world to read when I finally picked it up last month).

(* - listed in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die)