Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jae's Book Club

Well, it's been a month or two since my last book post, so I have my latest crop of books rounded up and ready to do. I swear, that used bookstore in the mall has changed my life. It's like a steady supply of new books for $4. My home library is massive at this point. I'm trying to talk Justin into installing the fireplace and putting ceiling-height bookcases on either side to house them all. One day, one day.

The Hours: Michael Cunningham

Hello? This book won the Pulitzer. It was bound to be good. Although, if you're looking for a good *story* to read, don't read this book. It moves very slowly while alternating between the lives of three women, Virginia Woolf being one of them. But it was thought provoking and the surprise ending was fairly amazing. It just took a lot of reflection to get there. I'm glad I read it anyway, just to know that I did. lol.

The Help: Kathryn Stockett

If you haven't already picked this book for your book club, please do so. It is SO good. A friend of mine was raving about it, so I picked it up. It's about paid black maids in the early 1950s. Of course, things were at the tipping point then, so there's a lot of turmoil. When a white writer decides to write about the maids, she has to do so in private with a few cooperative black women. When I finished the book, I was totally crying, but what else is new?

Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell

If you know me at all, you know that my tastes in books are strictly fiction-based. I prefer modern fiction and rarely read non-fiction at all. But the last time I was in Canada, my brother Ryan gave me this book and it blew my mind. Justin and I discussed its concepts for weeks because it was so interesting. It's basically about how circumstances, upbringing and even your birthday can have a bearing on your level of success. It is CRAZY and impeccably researched. I can't wait to read more of his stuff.

Underground to Canada: Barbara Smucker

OK, so I have this goal to create a library for Addison, so that when she gets older, she can read the books I did as a kid. Granted, I was reading about slavery at age 10 and not Judy Blume, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to read such good books when I was young. Anyway, I just found a copy of "Underground to Canada" and read it in a couple of hours. It's a story about a slave girl who takes the Underground Railway to Canada after escaping her master. I must have read this book 600 times in elementary school and I can't wait to read it with the A's. When they are much, much older.

The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn: Janis Hallowell

I bought this book the day before we headed to Lake Powell because I wanted something light to read, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't as "deep" as a lot of the books I read but it was entertaining. It's about a girl who is called an angel by a homeless man, and everyone starts to believe that she's a deity. She first thinks it's nuts, but slowly begins to believe it herself. A really quick and interesting read.

Nora Jane: Ellen Gilchrist

Nora Jane isn't one book but rather a collection of stories by Gilchrist surrounding her popular Nora Jane character. The book spans her entire life, and I liked reading about it in bits and pieces. Where I did find her characters a little inconsistent, I loved that the book gave you glimpses into the family's lives, along with the lives of their friends, neighbors and acquaintances. I especially loved that I could put it down and pick it up to read an entirely new story.

Little Children - Tom Perrotta

If you'll remember, this was turned into a movie, and I believe Kate Winslet was nominated for an Oscar for her role. Honestly, I was surprised that something so dishy could have become Oscar material, because this book is like reading 300 pages of gossip. Of course it was thought provoking in places, but mostly it was centered around parents who basically act like children. For what the book is named, very little of the book is about the children. It's suburban and very gritty.

Drowning Ruth: Christina Schwarz

This was one of the most haunting books I've ever read. It's funny, because I read "The Book of Ruth" a few months ago, and for both having Ruth in the title, they had the same kind of mood. It's about a woman who is left to raise her sister's daughter after her sister drowns under a frozen lake. The circumstances surrounding the drowning are revealed bit by bit, almost as if the main character is allowing herself to remember slowly. I had trouble putting this down.

For Kings and Planets: Ethan Canin

Ethan Canin is the author of "America, America," which is a book that I am in love with. What I loved about this book is that the most interesting character was not the main character. In fact, the main character is fairly dull, allowing the other characters to tell the story. It's about lies that we tell ourselves, friendship and it's basically a coming of age story, which are almost always my favorites.

My Name is Memory: Ann Brashares

Ugh, I had such high hopes for this book and they just didn't pan out. I mean, the plot sounds great: A man who can remember his past lives spends each life searching out the same girl and convincing her that they are past lovers. But it was so, so poorly executed. The story felt rushed and trite and silly at times. Honestly, I thought Brashares was trying way too hard for a Bella and Edward story, as if that were the holy grail or something. AND THEN the book so ends obviously leaving room for a sequel that I was reminded of the stories I used to write in grade two... "TO BE CONTINUED....." It was awful. I GUESS if you like fluffy romance reads you might like this. It was just too amateurish.

Daniel's Story: Carol Matas

Here's another one for the kid library. I specifically remember reading this at age 11 because it was required in my grade five class by my favorite teacher (who is likely reading this now.) I scored this copy and read it through with a box of kleenex. A story of a boy and his family during the Holocaust, it was my first exposure to WWII and I credit the story and the frank discussions my teacher had with us about the gruesome details with my interest in war history in general. It's a historically accurate account that is eye opening.

Unwind: Neal Shusterman

One of my friends recommended this book to me so I had to pick it up. (Note: if you recommend a book to me, I will read it. Always) I really liked it actually. I was fresh off of finishing the last Hunger Games book and craving another futuristic-type book. This one, about parents who are given the option to "unwind" or basically part out their adolescent children, in exchange for the banishment for abortion, was crazy. And one of the most interesting parts was that it seems so realistic, but many chapters start with news stories and facts relating to the book. Really cool, and a must if you liked The Hunger Games, etc.

A Very Long Engagement: Sebastien Japrisot

This is an old book. I found my copy at (where else?) the used bookstore. I'd heard of the book and never read it, and it ended up becoming my favorite of the last batch. Going along with my interest in wars, this is a story of WWI. A young girl receives word that her fiance has died in a strange way, and she sets about trying to find out if he's still alive. It could be considered a mystery, except that it is far too beautiful a book to be campy. If you like historical fiction, definitely read it.

The Cider House Rules: John Irving

Remember how I read "A Widow for One Year" and didn't really like it? I mean, Irving is an American literature great, but I just didn't get that book. This book, I got. I kind of mourned when it was over. Especially with the last line. K, I'll be straight up here. The book centers heavily around abortion and medical procedure and that might make you uncomfortable. But the stories! I loved this book. I haven't seen the movie, but I don't want to... I feel like Charlize Theron will spoil it for me.

That's it for now. Is anyone even reading still? lol. Man, I am long read and even longer winded.


Carolyn said...

I had a mental image of "Beauty and the Beast" when you described the book shelves. Thanks for the new recommendations!

Joy said...

I read Drowning Ruth several years ago & loved it! Wonder if I still have it...

Anonymous said...

I need to know what the last line of The Cider House Rules was!!!! I have googled it but can't find it anywhere. Please, please tell.

Anonymous said...

Oh....and a recommendation: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. My absolute favourite book.

courtney said...

Thanks for the recommends.
My favorite book is Bel Canto (read it!! SO amazing)

Jae said...

ooh yaya! Book recommendations! I just picked up three more books to read on the plane today lol. I have a problem.

And you MAY NOT know the last line of the book! That is cheating, my anonymous friend.

Jen said...

I love getting book suggestions from you! I've been reading like crazy since I finished school in the spring! I have a few I've read (not recommended by you) that I'll have to pass along the titles- but have that list saved on my computer.

Jen said...

Here were the book suggestions I had:
The Zookeepers Wife - Diane Ackerman, Little Bee - Chris Cleave, Half Broke Horses - Jeanette Walls, Cold Sassy Tree - Olive Burns, Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay, and The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

Anonymous said...

Drowning Ruth was really good and so was Unwind although a little weird. I started reading Everlost by the same author though and I cant seem to get into it. You always make the best suggestions!

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