Friday, September 2, 2011

Books of 2011 - August

August seems like a long month. And I did a lot of reading in August. In other words, this will be a long list:

1. The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel Fiction by David Leviathan. I like the construct of this novel: dictionary entries that tell a story. I can't necessarily recommend this book (the characters are living together and some of the entries are, um, not appropriate for all readers) but it was an interesting experiment.

2. Britain and Ireland: A Visual Tour of the Enchanted Isles Non-fiction by Robin Currie. Beautiful! And, in related non-news, I want to go back to England. Now. Yesterday. Soon.

3. The Sword and the Stone Fiction by T.H. White I don't know if I've mentioned it or not (surely I have) but I'm on a huge King Arthur kick right now. This book is one of the more famous Arthur stories but I found it almost incomprehensible. This is supposed to be a children's book? I'm definitely not putting this on Polly's recommended reading list. She can get her King Arthur myths some other way.

4.Life As We Knew It Fiction by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Also (skipping ahead on my list a bit):

7.The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2) And:

8. This World We Live In (The Last Survivors, Book 3) These three books are a trilogy. The set-up is intriguing: an asteroid hits the moon; catastrophe ensues; teenagers deal with it, with varying degrees of success. I found the first book compelling, if occasionally annoying. (Pot-shots at "the idiot president from Texas" and all the religious people are either faintly or overtly ridiculous).

The second book was the best: the protagonist did not seem as whiny or self-centered as the first and the change of POV helped. Although why, why? did the hero not break into the other apartments to find supplies?! [/rant]

The third book was the literary equivalent of flipping your readers the bird (pardon my language), since it's dedicated to readers who want to know more of the story. I got the impression that the author just doesn't like her characters very much and was eager to leave them as hopeless and pathetic as possible. Ugh. Definitely do not recommend and if you see these on your teenager's reading list for school or something you might want to read them first so you can be aware of what's going on.

5. Iris in winter Fiction by Elizabeth Cadell. Charming story with unforgettable characters. I'm really enjoying all these vintage British stories.

6. Alphabetter Juice: or, The Joy of Text Non-fiction by Roy Blount, Jr. A book about words, etymology and runaway trains of thought.

9.Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) Fiction by Orson Scott Card. This is a sci-fi classic that I've somehow missed until now. I think Philip would probably like it better than I did. It seems like this author breaks all the "rules" but somehow it works for him.

10.The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend (Oxford Paperback Reference) Non-fiction by Alan Lupack. I told you I was on an Arthur kick. This book contains just about anything you ever wanted to know about Arthurian related legends and literature. Great reference material and I'd like to own a copy. Must remember to add this to my Paperback Swap wish list.

11.Tallgrass Fiction by Sandra Dallas. Coming-of-age tale set in Colorado during the Second World War. How a Japanese internment camp affects a small town and a family. This book is interesting and well intentioned but the characters are almost all one dimensional: all good or all bad. The author's note at the beginning also annoyed me because she said she couldn't write about the subject from the Japanese point of view since that would be "presumptuous". I do see her point, but writing is all about presuming. Can a woman not write about a man's point of view or vice versa? To me one of the main reasons why writing, novels, and stories exist is to put yourself in someone else's shoes as it were. To feel empathy for your characters and to inspire your readers to the same thing. Otherwise, all writing would have to be non-fiction. [/rant about writing]

12.Excellent Women (Penguin Classics) Fiction by Barbara Pym. An excellent book. Pym has been compared to Jane Austen and, although that may be carrying the point a bit far, she is a worthy successor. This story is charming, funny, and somehow a little heartbreaking all at once.

13.Enchantment Fiction by Orson Scott Card. I love fairy tales and this modern re-telling of Sleeping Beauty intrigued me. This book is quite different from #9 above yet you can tell it was written by the same man. And with that I am a little bit "Card-ed" out so I think I will be taking a break from any more in either series for right now.

14. Beyond Eden (Volume 2) Fiction by S.L. Linnea & B.K. Sherer. First of all, I'm not sure how I ended up ordering this book from our library. I had no idea it was a series (or I would never have started with the second book), I don't agree with the theology, and I do not care for books written in this "thriller, we can't wait to make this a movie" style. So, not my favorite.

15.Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?: The Lost Toys, Tastes, and Trends of the 70s and 80s Non-fiction by Gael Cooper & Brian Bellmont. I read most of this aloud to Philip one night. It made both of us laugh. (See especially the section on death trap playgrounds)

16.Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Fiction by Jamie Ford. Yes, if you're keeping count, this is the second book concerning the internment of Japanese-Americans that I read in August. Of the two I think I prefer this one (not that it's a contest, of course) because the characters are more rounded and believable. I did find myself rather impatiently skimming at some points because I just wanted to find out what happened for Pete's sake! Still, if you're more patient than I am (and that would probably be everyone) I think this book is worth it.

Totals for August:
Fiction: 12
Non-fiction: 4

Wow, non-fiction really took a beating this month. That's going to hurt my yearly average, although looking at my current reading stack it doesn't seem like I'm in a hurry to change. Maybe I just need some simple escaping into a good novel rather than heavy research right now.

Read any good books lately? I'm always looking for new-to-me additions to my stack.

All links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Opinions are my own.

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