Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What I read in May

Just some notes on my readings for the month of May:

Olive Kitteridge (A Novel in Stories) by Elizabeth Strout. Strout won this year's Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. The book is a collection of short stories with the main character, Olive Kitteridge, tying all the stories together. Strout's writing was so lovely it almost, almost, made up for the horrible people she was writing about. Please save me from ever meeting the upright, uptight, repressed, depressed people of Maine. One character described how she "didn't like music." We weren't talking a specific genre here, just she didn't like music. Oh boy.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. I was excited to read this book for three reasons (1) feminist (2) African-American (3) science fiction writer. This was Blue Cypress Books' book club pick for May and I'm glad we choose it. I'll confess the story of a time-traveling woman interacting with her ancestor in a terribly brutal way was riveting but in the end, the writing itself was so "he said, she said", and "then this happened" style which began to bore me. However, I'm going to read more of Butler's works before further judgement.

What the Dog Saw And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell. It wouldn't be possible for me to love Gladwell any more than I do. I'm a huge fan of not only The Tipping Point (connector! mavens!), and Blink (changed the way the Mister and I work out our disagreements) and Outliers (practice practice practice). That said, not loving the disjointedness of these articles. Several of the articles covered the same issues more than once. Individually, these were thought provoking essays but collectively in a book, they weren't as powerful.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. This was my light read of the month. Sittenfeld tries to claim this book isn't about Laura Bush, but please, you'd have to have been under a rock to not read this book while imagining Laura as the main character. Which makes it a little disconcerting during the sex scenes. In the end, I'm a little embarrassed that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Definitely a beach read type of book, though Sittenfeld's end of the book analysis of how responsible we are for our loved ones' actions was pretty insightful.

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. A lovely novella about a Japanese family's struggles during Internment. Each member of the family took a turn with their tale and while the writing was lyrical, the book felt too short and abrupt. Would have love to see these characters grow more with a full novel.

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Once again, Fforde does not disappoint me. I've read the entire Eyre Affair series and his Nursery Crimes books. This dystopian story about a group of people who are divided into groups according to Color Perception has much of the wit and satire Fforde is famous for but this one is much darker. I didn't mind and was so pleased to find in the end this was part one of a planned trilogy. Lucky me!

The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan. Yes, I read this. Frankly I read it most every day. The garden is growing oh so well and I've been eyeballing the "moonshine" section a little too closely. Intriguing . . .

Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon. Still working on this one. Question is, will I ever finish? Gonna try again but ugg, this one, not sure.

Best of the Month: Fforde's Shades of Grey.

On my list for June:

Blessed Unrest (How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming) by Paul Hawken
Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
Seeing by Jose Saramago
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Plus anything amazing that comes through the shop. Yep, I get first pick for a reason.

Happy reading y'all!