Monday, August 16, 2010

Jae's Book Club

I haven't done a book list fora few months, which means I've had to pare down some of my readings because instead of the usual five books, I've chewed through like, 30. Justin says I'm a nerd. I've been going to a used bookstore lately and buying tons of books that I've always wanted to read and never got around to it. My home library is 100 percent out of control, but if you need something to read, come over!

Ahab's Wife, or the Star Gazer: Sena Jeter Naslund

This book was slow starting, but I ended up completely in love with it. The whole epic story follows, you guessed it, Ahab's wife from childhood to her several husbands. Ahab is actually barely in the book, only a few chapters. Instead, it focuses on an independent woman who stows away on a ship and shapes her life from that point onward. It's a good piece of historical fiction and I loved the whole "Treasure Island" vibe it had. This book also sparked the infamous Jae/Justin cannibalism conversation.

White Oleander: Janet Fitch

I'd "read" this book via Audible, but never read it in paper form. It was so much better to read it for real because I caught onto a few things I had never noticed in listening to it. It's the story of a girl whose mom ends up in jail and basically emotionally abuses her while she's in foster care in order to keep a grasp on her. It kept me up at night and I loooved it.

Wake: Lisa McMann

One of my used bookstore finds, someone had said something about this book to me and I can't remember who, but I ended up not liking it at all. It's very obviously YA fiction, which is fine because hello!? I love The Hunger Games. But this wasn't very good. It was a little slapdash and the ending was rushed and I'm getting tired of Edward/Bella love stories, thanks. Anyway, it's about a girl who can enter peoples' dreams. I believe it's a trilogy but YAWN.

The Book of Air and Shadows: Michael Gruber

So I had never read "The Da Vinci Code" when it was big. It just wasn't my thing. But when i was in the hospital, someone brought it to me and I read it in one day. It was oooookay, but I wanted it to be better. "The Book of Air and Shadows" is a smarter version of DVC. Way more mysterious, not so cop-and-robber, and a little harder to figure out. I am a fan.

The Swan Thieves: Elizabeth Kostova

Kostova is arguably one of my favorite writers of the last ten years. She only has two books and they are both spectacular. "The Historian" was AH-mazing, and "The Swan Thieves" is just as good. It follows a historical mystery of a psychotic painter who slashes a painting in a museum. His therapist, the main character, follows the trail to find out why the painter did what he did. I found myself sneaking off to read this during the day while the kids were asleep lol.

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing: Melissa Bank

So this book literally has nothing to do with hunting or fishing. I LOVED IT. It was like a more emotional "Bridget Jones' Diary" which I've read like 90 times. Banks' writing is crazy good, and she flops between several writing styles. One entire portion, where the main character is ill, still gives me a big 'ol lump in my throat. Seriously. I got through this book really fast and was so glad I read it.

The March: E.L. Doctorow

One of the fun things about used bookstores? You find cool stuff. I snagged an advance reader's copy of this book and it's fun to see all the marketing material with it. Anyways, if you like American history, pick this one up. Since American history is ever so much more exciting than Canadian history, I enjoy it. It follows General Sherman's march to free the slaves during the Civil War. I've loved books on slavery since I was a girl, reading "Underground to Canada," and this gives some of the back story to both the Confederate and Union armies.

A Widow for One Year: John Irving

Now, let's get this straight. I really like John Irving. I have a copy of "Cider House Rules" on my shelf. But this book was... odd. It follows a writer as she does book tours and research, and it doesn't follow a plot line until the end. I'm sure artistic readers will love it, but I just felt confused. And the vast majority of the book takes place in Sweden's Red Light District so it was.... just weird. lol. It was fine to read once, but I likely won't read it again.

Midwives: Chris Bohjalian

My, my, my. I become OBSESSED with this book when I was reading it. I couldn't figure it out. It's the fictional story of a midwife who mistakenly believes that her patient has an aneurysm while giving birth, so she performs an emergency c-section with a kitchen knife at home. It's later found that the woman was still alive and the c-section killed her, so the midwife is put on trial for murder. The book is part trial, part commentary on home birthing tactics from both sides of the coin. Really riveting stuff.

Girls of Riyadh: Rajaa Alsanea

When I was 17 I transferred schools and ended up at a very multicultural high school with huge middle eastern population. I've always been interested in the culture, and this book was so much fun to read. It focuses on three girls living in Saudi Arabia. It's kind of like a really tame Sex and the City situation... except arranged marriages and text messages prevail. If you're looking for an easy, plum read, I really loved this book and I'll read it a few times over.

Friends Like These: Danny Wallace

Remember when I was raving about "Yes Man"? "Friends Like These" is by the same hilarious Brit author, who decides that he'd like to look up all of his old elementary school friends to have a play date. The way that his old friends reacts really makes the whole book (At one point, he goes to Japan with the picture of his old friend plastered on his shirt in hopes that he'll find him eventually) It wasn't as good as "Yes Man" but so solid, and I love his writing. Very dry.

Forever: Pete Hamill

"Forever" is a story about a man who is granted eternal life so long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan (total side note, what is WITH authors and New York? There ARE other cities, you know.) From the 1700s on, he watches the city change as he harbors feelings for revenge against the blood line of the man who killed his parents. It's an interesting concept and I like the book until the last 150 pages, when it seemed to go funny and drag on. The rest was worth the read though.

Fool: Christopher Moore

If you've never read a Christopher Moore book before, you probably won't like "Fool". But I love Moore's awful, bawdy way of writing. "Fool" is basically the tale of "King Lear" but told from the point of view of his trusted court fool. The sisters make appearances, Moore makes fun of EVERYTHING and it's all very sarcastic. I love a dark and funny story, and this one was just as good as "A Dirty Job" which is my fave Moore book.

The Mercy of Thin Air: Ronlyn Domingue

This was a gorgeous, gorgeous book. Seriously. If you're looking for a book club pick, this would be amazing. It's about a young girl who is killed in the 20s, right before she's about to be engaged. Devestated, her spirit stays behind to watch her family, random people and help other spirits transition. It has a "Lovely Bones" vibe without the gore and I was totally touched by this book when I finished it. Really. Must read.

The Whole World Over: Julia Glass

"The Whole World Over" covers a family in turmoil. A woman is tired of her marriage and accepts a job across the country, taking her son with her while she and her husband try and maintain a marriage. The choice sets off a number of consequences and it shows how one person's choices ripple through and affect others. Very Six Degrees-ish and an interesting read.

The Book of Ruth: Jane Hamilton

OMGOMGOMG I loved this book. I read it when I was in Canada last and I found myself with a flashlight in my brother's denlike room after the kids were asleep, reading through. It's really a sad story about the sick cycle of poverty, and the main character, Ruth, is so simple and likable. I think it's a must-read for anyone, but especially if you like easy to read but poignant books. Really... I found myself thinking about Ruth like she was a real person half of the time.

Well! That should be enough to keep you busy. I still have three or four books on the shelf that I haven't gotten through yet, so I'll try and be more on top of things this time around lol. Happy reading and don't worry if Justin thinks you're a nerd. At least you're a well-read nerd.


Alisa said...

Love when you do these posts. I am pretty sure that midwives book was made into a lifetime movie. Yes I used to be a lifetime movie junkie and I remember seeing that movie. It was good. Can't wait to read some of these.

Did you ever read Unwind? I did and I really liked it. I am curious what you think about it.

Jae said...

Alisa, Unwund is on its way to the house right now lol. That and My Name Is Memory which I've heard good things about. I'll let you know!

Jae said...

*Unwind lol

Carolyn said...

Hooray! Thanks for the list! I am excited to try some of these out. And I really need to find this used book store you talk about.

Justin said...


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