I had a bit of a reading slump this month – so I took some days off from reading. I was also picky about what I read – sometimes nothing I had seemed to suit so I stole Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows from youngest and once again immersed myself in JK Rowling’s world. We have a yearly December Movie date with friends and we trying to decide on Harry Potter or The Voyage of the Dawn Trader. I think Narnia will win out but I will see the Potter eventually I wanted to remember all the details before I go. Besides, immersing yourself in a different world is a great way to get out of a reading slump.
- Driftless – David Rhodes
- Different Drummers – Caron and Hatcher
- The Birth of Love – Joanna Kavenna
- Drinking Coffee Elsewhere – ZZ Packer
- Man in the Woods – Scott Spencer
- Origin – Diana Abu-Jaber
- Day After Night – Anita Diamant
- Great House – Nicole Kraus
- (Reread) Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows – JK Rowling
- (DNF) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
- (DNF) Black Water Rising – Attica Locke
Once again I have two best reads: Driftless was fantastic and a great book group book as well. I loved the language and theme. I felt sure it wouldn’t have any competition until I read Great House which I will review next week. Great House also had great language and themes. It is interesting that in both books, there isn’t a lot of action and both books are not linear in their plotting. What they do have in common is beautiful, well written prose, characters that really get into your mind, and both evoke a greater understanding of the human condition – which is what makes them great books.
As for the others:
- Day After Night and Different Drummers are for my one book group (I read ahead) so I won’t say too much. I thought Day After Night was a little lightweight and Different Drummers is by two local people and based on the true-life friendship of one of the authors. They wrote a screenplay and then adapted it to the book. It is a feel good story but I found it very hard to get through.
- The Birth of Love – I think my review says it all.
- Best Book Group Book (after Driftless) – Man in the Woods. My review of this novel will be posted tomorrow and while it didn’t meet my expectations, there is a lot to discuss about morality and personal responsibility. And then there is ZZ Packer’s short stories Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. If your group reads short stories, these would be interesting to discuss. I wonder how the stories make other people feel – as they made me be just a little unsettled in my seat.
And then there is my two Did Not Finish books. There are many reasons for not finishing a book: you may find it awful (The Help – although I did finish it the second time around because of Book Group); it may be the wrong time for you to read it (it is always the wrong time for me to read Proust); you may run out of time; or it may just be too Hard (The Art of Racing in the Rain – I loved it but I was scared about what might happen and couldn’t deal with the ugly cry I foresaw coming my way.
Do any of you remember the film, The Pursuit of Happyness which was about a homeless man trying to become a stockbroker. He also had a small son. When that movie came out on DVD, the boys wanted to watch it and boy was I glad I was watching it at home. I knew the ending because I knew the story it was based on. But I worried, I worried the entire movie. I worried so much I had to leave the room a few times. I just couldn’t take it. Well I started Black Water Rising and I was getting into it. I liked Jay Porter and his back story, his wife and father-in-law, his church family. But then I started to worry about him and his wife. I worried when he got into a car, I worried when someone passed him on the street, I worried when he would go into a bar. I even read the ending so I would know if I had to worry about different things and even that didn’t work. Way too much worry for me and it went back to the library unfinished. So if you like an author who can create a suspenseful atmosphere or if you are intrigued about a black character who had trouble during the civil rights movement and is now trying to make something of his life when he stumbles upon a particularly troublesome murder – the I recommend this book.
The other DNF was the Oscar Wao. I had trouble hitting my stride with this book and didn’t actually get into it until the author switched from Oscar to his sister. But then Thanksgiving was coming up and the book was due so I turned it in. I think it is a book that I will return to someday. I really liked Diaz’s ability to capture strong women and I want to see how that is carried out in the rest of the book and I also want to know if Oscar ever achieves happiness.
Lots in the reading pile and my old copies of Agatha Christie have been calling my name.