August 03, 2014

What I've been reading

Something has been missing as of late.
A voice that I hear in my head.
Thoughts that spin about - nothing of any great consequence
but with nowhere to go - they just

It's this ol' blog.
I believe I am coming up on year 5 of the blogiversary
but this past year hasn't been much of a year.

But I miss it.
So I'm going to try to get back on the horse and get things out.

So up first?
Reading, of course.
Every year Goodreads has a reading challenge.
You set your goal number of books and keep track on their site of your progress.
Last year I set my goal at 50 and blew it out of the water.
So I thought this I would double it and go for 100.

I'm a few books behind.

But that's ok.

Sometimes I find that challenges and competitions can make me race through something and not savour what I'm taking in. I'm totally guilty of reading too fast and then hardly remembering what I've read so to amp it up with a challenge - well sometimes I wonder what I'm doing at all.
I love to read.
I have to remember that.

So here's what has been on my Kobo lately (there have been a few stinkers so I'll probably leave those out.) Maybe I'll rephrase that by saying - here's what I'd recommend:

The Circle by Dave Eggers
A few years back, I started to read "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" and I hated it. It's Dave's memoir and I thought he was an arrogant, pompous ass. I vowed to never read anything by him again. Recently I read that "The Circle"was similar to another book that I'd liked (you know how you get those - If you liked this, then you'll love this! links from Chapters (Goodreads does it too.)
So I requested it from the library.
And I loved it.
It's a little bit Big Brother. And a little bit Ready Player One. Right off the bat you know that it's not possible for everything to be as perfect as it seems. This book got some not-so-great reviews - some people didn't think the characters were well developed and that the writing was ordinary at best. Maybe those things are true and maybe that's what made it easy to read. Sometimes I find that authors try to show how smart they are by using a lot of big words to say simple things. Maybe I'm just not as smart as they are (but it does make me appreciate the dictionary on my Kobo) but often I find it's just unnecessary. I expected that of Dave Eggers (since I had a pre-conceived idea of who he is) but it wasn't what I found. It was a page turner for me and I couldn't put it down.
Let me put it this way - for the past 6 months or so I have started getting off the subway a a stop further away from my workplace then I have to - it adds an additional 10 minute walk to my commute but also saves me from the crowded train (which I find hard to handle lately). When I was nearing the end of this book - I rode the extra distance so I could keep reading.
That tells you something, I think.

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
Oh Herman, you are a dark, dark soul. I read "The Dinner" by Herman Koch last year and had no idea what I was in for before starting it. It was incredible. A brutal book, but brilliant. Creeps up on you and takes a big bite.
So I guess you could say I was prepared for his newest release. And it didn't disappoint. I don't want to tell you too much and I suggest you don't find out what it's about before you read it. If you liked "The Dinner" I'm pretty sure you'll like this one. It's another one that's hard to put down but good to the finish. Apparently he has written other novels but I can't find them in english. Our loss.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Another one that I didn't know the premise of before I started reading it and I would recommend that you do the same. Really well written - you feel the confusion and anxiety of the main character from a perspective you don't normally get to see.
I was in the bookstore last week and saw a woman looking at this book and I told her she should buy it.
Books that make you talk to strangers are a good bet.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
This is the first David Sedaris book I've read. I'd read about how hilarious he is but something had kept me from reading his books all these years (I often resist hyped things just to be stubborn. I can't help myself).
Finally - I resisted no longer.
I was disappointed. I didn't really enjoy it and I found I was just trying to get through it.
But here's the interesting part. I found his stories unoriginal.
They were ideas I'd heard before and I thought - who cares?

But then I looked at the publication date. He wrote this one in 2001 and then I realized - he was the original. Others have copied his ideas and modeled their stories after his. Huh.
It didn't make me enjoy it any greater but I respected him more once I figured this out.
I guess his stories are timeless, in a way, or at least they've made a mark.
Maybe next I'll read his most recent volume - to see what he has to say these days.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
This is a sweet little book. I love post-apocalypse stories about survival and "what went down" and this one didn't disappoint. It's a great story - good pacing. I loved it - plain and simple. Highly recommend.

So there are 5 - all ones I'd recommend (except the Sedaris).

Happy reading!

P.S. People often ask me how I find or choose books. There are a few sources - sometimes it's a simple stroll through Chapters but I also find a lot on Goodreads (linked above) and from this lovely blog - Heart of Light. She has similar tastes in reading to mine and does lists just like this one (I didn't mean to copy her - I'm really just trying to re-boot the old blog and reading is a good kickstart for me). I've gotten a lot of recommendations from her - The Dog Stars, The Jack Reacher books (which I didn't talk about here) and many others. I love the library - I download most of what I read. It's free!

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