Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What I'm Reading, Listening to, and Thinking About

Ok, there's been a bunch of books I've listened to on audible since my last post...

1.  Rules of Civility
This was ah-ma-zing.  I loved it.  I don't know how you couldn't love it.  But one of my real life friends only gave it two stars on goodreads and I don't know how to feel about that.

Rules of Civility tells the story of Katey and Tinker and Eve, three friends who meet randomly on a New Year's Eve night in NYC in the late 1930's.

Towles seems to be channeling F. Scott Fitzgerald.  But maybe "channeling" is unfair, he's writing about the same time period, with skill, and a strong voice, but I wouldn't say they are interchangeable.  And maybe that's why some people don't like him.  Maybe  because he isn't Fitzgerald 2.

this lady has got it made, or does she...

I read another book that was set during this era at the beginning of the year.  That book became grating.  The way that other author was trying so hard to sound like a peer of Fitzgerald or Hemingway shined through every sentence and made the experience of reading almost unbearable.  Towles has clearly done his research and is comfortable crafting his own story.  Rules of Civility isn't trying to be something it's not.

The characters were believable but not lovable.  They didn't make the same choices I would make but I was ok with that.  The narration was well done and the narrator's tone and style helped me form an image of Katey and her world.

This is good, strong literary fiction and I will be giving this to friends for Christmas.

2.  Cinder
I had received so many recommendations to read this book.  I was getting more than a little annoyed.  I am not a fan of sci-fi, futuristic, teen writing.  I caved to pressure and listened to it on audible last month.

It was so good, for what it was.  This book is not trying to be literary fiction.  It is trying to be a fun retelling of an old story.  It is meant to appeal to teens and I appreciated that it wasn't rife with sex or violence.  I gave it to my oldest daughter and she plowed through it in a few days and was asking for the sequel.

So, the premise here is that Cinder is part cyborg part human and she lives with her wicked stepmother who won't let her go to the ball and meet the prince.  Well, that's a rough outline, but Cinder is also facing a worldwide epidemic, strained relations with the beings from the moon (Lunars), and dealing with falling in love when you're insecure about yourself.

If you need some fun in your reading life, this is it.

The only thing I got really frustrated with was that this book ended with a complete cliffhanger.  The story was not finished, and the author is baiting you to buy her next book.  To me, that's annoying.

(3.  The End of the Affair)
Just started this one yesterday but am already loving it.  It's narrated by Colin Firth and I think I could listen to him read all day.  Such an interesting premise, sort of examining an affair through a series of flashbacks and flashforwards.  And, great insight into love and hate and jealousy.  I'll tell you more about this when I'm finished with it...

So, what have I been reading...

I'm still working at Owen Meany.  It's good, but not the kind of thing I can get through quickly.  It will be finished by the end of the year, but I'm taking my time with it.  Also, it's hard to focus on a classic while at a million soccer games.

My second child is participating in Battle of the Books through our county library.  It's a competition for fifth graders.  I'm coaching and reading all 14 of the books they have to read.  So far, I've read The Penderwicks--major snooze fest and The Case of the Missing Marquess--ok...but still not that great.

Then I went on suspense binge:

The Couple Next Door
I got this one and was super excited about the creepy premise--a baby is kidnapped under what seem like impossible circumstances.  The plot unwinds the mystery and eventually all is revealed.  It was a quick, suspenseful read with some deeper themes that weren't really delved into, but brought to light and made the reader consider for a second what society's view of postpartum depression is, how moms and dads are viewed differently, and what happens to a family when a child goes missing.

Not literary fiction, but good for what it was.  I did feel as though the title was a misnomer, though.  The couple next door could have been so meaningful, but it wasn't.  I will leave it there to prevent any spoilers.

creepy book = creepy cover

Good as Gone
Another suspense/quick read.  This one was also about an abduction.  But instead of a baby, the child is 13 and her sister is the only witness.  This book tells the story of Julie, who disappears at knife point one night, and then miraculously comes back to her family eight years later.  But some of Julie's behavior doesn't add up, so her mom goes on a quest to figure out if it's really Julie or someone impersonating her.

There is a lot of tension in this novel and you can't stop turning the pages to figure out if this is Julie or not Julie.  It also is a book that is interesting from an empathetic perspective--how would I react?  how would I feel?

I did want to hear more about Julie's sister, Jane.  She had the possibility to be such an interesting character but instead she was a bit flat.

Parts of this were reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart book which gave it a note of authenticity that made the story move even faster.  Now, I'm watching my 12 year old daughter very carefully and making sure she talks to me...I guess that's not a bad outcome?  A little dose of paranoia every now and then that makes me a more watchful parent...

And that's what's going on around here lately.

I've got to start thinking through my end of year reading goals so I finish the year strong.  It seems like each year the intensity builds from Halloween to New Year.  My whole family enjoys life so much more if I guard our time strictly.  With older kids comes more running around and I want to preserve time in front of the fire reading at night.  Maybe not every night, but some nights.  

Another thing I've been considering is going on a book buying fast.  I've been reading and listening to so many bloggers and podcasts and getting so many recommendations.  Over the last two months I've bought way more than I've read and I think I need to slow down and look at my shelves when I pick a new book.  

This fast will start promptly after this weekend when we head to NYC and visit The Strand.  I can't make any promises while I'm in there.  

Let me know what you're reading in the comments.  Or what you want to read before the end of the year.  Or if you're going somewhere fun this weekend.  

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