July 31, 2016

Books Read Recently

I've been a bit...absent from the blog these past months but I'm hoping I can start it up again and keep it going.

Let's get reacquainted by starting with one of my favourite things - books.

My library card expired in January and I haven't yet had it renewed. 
I was reading everything on my e-reader and I found myself missing paper. 
I wanted to hold the concrete, solid form in my hands to feel as though I was getting through it. Actually accomplishing something. 
(It's nonsense, really. Kind of like how I set a reading challenge for myself every year through Goodreads. 
Why do I bother? 
It's not like I need to "get back into reading" since I haven't had a reading lapse, oh, ever. 
And yet - 50 book goal in 2016! (sigh.)

Regardless, I was enjoying reading printed books again, but for at least one I had to start a second book because the one I was reading was too big to carry on my commute to work (I'm looking at you Goldfinch!) 
I don't usually read more than one book at a time as I find it hard to keep the stories straight but this time I really had no choice so I was able to do it.

I've enjoyed them all for the most part with a hiccup here and there.

It took me a long time to get through this one because, well, it's huge. But I thought it was great. As mentioned above, I couldn't carry it to/fro work so it did take longer than usual but it's such a good story. I was invested in the characters and I didn't know what was going to happen. I bought this book back in December thinking I'd read it over the holidays but the sheer size of it made starting daunting. I'm glad I finally did. Did it deserve the Pulitzer? I can't say. But it was one of the best books I've read this year.

My rating:

There has been a lot of hype about this one. My fella picked it up second hand since we'd heard about it on the radio and our interest was piqued. I'd just finished reading The Goldfinch and I needed a break from "epic" stories.  I read this entire book in one day and found it to be a tense, what's-going-to-happen, nail-biter but when I got to the end my first thought was huh? Did I miss something? I went back and read a few pages again but it didn't help. I looked at some of the reviews on Goodreads and some of those readers said the same thing. I don't want to say it wasn't good, I think I just maybe didn't get it? I almost wanted to go back and start over to see what I missed in my race to the finish, but then I realized I didn't care that much. I'd give it a solid meh.

My rating:
(I'm giving it three stars because it was good enough to keep me reading for an entire Sunday. That's got to get some credit.)

I was in the bookstore buying a gift and they had a deal on that if you bought 3 books you got one free so I knew I couldn't leave without taking advantage of that. I don't know about you, but my mind often goes blank in the bookstore - I have 150 "to-reads" listed on Goodreads but in a pinch I can't remember a single one. 

I had pinned an article of "must reads" for 2016 and this one was in the list.  It stood out because it's a book about ballet. I love books about ballet. When I was little I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up (excessive height and flat feet notwithstanding) so I was interested. But really, I'm not sure that it was "about ballet." 
The main character was a ballet dancer and she teaches the history of dance at a college somewhere as an adult. I waited for it to get better but I started thinking that maybe the person who wrote the "must reads" list was getting some kind of kickback to include it because really - it just wasn't very good. The main character is kind of loathsome and unlikable and I didn't find myself rooting for anything for her but therapy. Not even the ballet parts were very good. Harumph.
My rating:
(harsh, I know. I felt cheated.)

This was the 4th book I bought at the aforementioned sale. When I read reviews of the Iain Reid book, one reviewer said that it was totally overrated and if you wanted to read the other most overrated book of the year, pick up "A Little Life."

And so that brings us here. Another long one that took ages to get through. But as with "The Goldfinch", I loved the story. The character of Jude is heartbreaking and the dedication of his friends and loved ones, is, well, bottomless. This book wasn't what I think of as a "hard read" or overly complicated but I did find it slow at times. (Except for that one section where I started reading in bed around 11 and just couldn't put it down until I'd finished that section and when I finally shut the light it was 12:30. Ugh!)

My one criticism of it was the over-usage of names.
Example: "Jude - what did you think you were doing Jude? Why, Jude, did you think that was necessary? I don't understand you, Jude." (I totally made up those sentences. None of them were in the book.) Did the author love the name Jude? It suits the character really well but the main theme of the story is the depth of the relationships that these people have with each other and, specifically, with Jude. It was just too much and got on my nerves. Other than that - loved it.
My rating: 
★ ★ ★ ★

Fella fell in love with Iain Banks within the past couple of years. This was one of the ones he kept encouraging me to read and I'm glad he did. I don't think I loved it as much as he did, but I did enjoy the story and thought the quality of his writing was excellent. This one is the story of a successful rock star who has lost his way and is thinking of ending his life. It goes back and forth between how he got started and where he is in his current life and how he's become what he now is. 
Enjoyed it. Wouldn't rush to read other Banks books, but there are a couple that Fella endorses so I might give them a spin.
My rating:
★ ★ ★

Those are the books that bedazzled (or not) in recent weeks. I'll be back soon with the next round!

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