Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jae's Book Club

So one of the things I love about my iPhone is the Words With Friends app. It allows you to play long, leisurely games of scrabble with your friends. I'll make a word, send it over, and my brother will get a notification and plug in a word whenever he has time.

Except there's one problem. I LOSE EVERY TIME. I also play with Ryan's BFF (life partner). HE BEATS ME TOO. So I felt the need to do a book post to console myself and prove that I am well-read, even if I can't figure out how to get a triple word score on the word "Quinoa."

This last round of books that I read were especially good, so I'm pretty excited about sharing them. I've already loaned out a bunch because I'm like OMG YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK until my friends feel awkward and uncomfortable and take it for goodness sakes. But good books do that to me. UNLESS of course you're in Walmart waiting in line and there's a huge bin of $1 books beside you and you challenge your husband to find the crappiest one and you'll buy it.

This may or may not have happened to me.

It was VERY crappy. I wish I could wash my brain.

Anyhow, these books were all much, much better.

The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff

For some reason I though I had already done this book on one of my lists, but apparently not. I read this the last time I was flying to Canada and I imagined that if anyone asked me about it, they would find it odd that a Mormon chick was reading up on polygamy. While the LDS Church is actually staunchly against polygamy, it has a long history with the practice. This book is completely fictional, but has a lot of early Church history. Instead of being worried about slander and bad press, I read with an open mind and instead came to new understandings of the Church's original stance on polygamy in general. The downside was that the book flip flops between current times and the 1800s, which I found unnecessary. The historical fiction would have sufficed, since the rest was basically fluff and sensationalism.

A Gate at the Stairs - Lorrie Moore

I actually found this book to be curious. The main character has little to no character development at all, that is to say that I didn't feel like I knew anything about her at all. But I think it made the book more interesting. It was about a girl who takes on a job as a nanny for an adopted child and her flawed parents. The story itself is heartbreaking, but the actual book seems unsympathetic. That is a super unclear way of describing it, but there you go. I still liked it, even if I don't plan on reading it again.

Roses - Leila Mecham

ZZZZZOMG this is the book I've been attacking everyone to read. I picked it up because it was huge and I figured 650 pages would keep me busy for a while. Too bad I blasted through it in two days flat. I was so obsessed that I ignored everyone and everything. It's about three Texan families in the early1900s who essentially build a town together. The resulting story is very Gone With the Wind. I audibly gasped like 900 times while reading it and cried twice. This, 100 percent, is my pick for a vacation or beach book. It is delicious.

Wench - Dolen Perkins-Valdez

If you liked The Help, which just about EVERYONE did, you'll like Wench. Wench is about slave owners who bring their slave women to a resort every summer (historically accurate.) There, they act like married couples. What I liked most about the book was the picture painted as a moral dilemma for slave women. When they were treated well, did they even want their freedom? The story of planning an escape was amazing to read, but I was saddened by the ending. It's a really interesting angle on an oft-told story.

Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson

I picked this up at one of my used bookstore jaunts. I love buying used books because I buy so many on a whim and find tons of good books this way. Snow Falling on Cedars is an old book and was made into a movie in the 90s. I've never seen the movie but I have a habit of buying books if I knew they were movies too. Weird. Anyway, the story is about Japanese Americans after WW2 and their detainment. When a fisherman turns up dead, a Japanese man is accused and the town is thrust back into the racism and discrimination that existing during the war. Very haunting and it fulfilled my strange need for war stories.

Mirror, Mirror - Gregory Maquire

Yup, another fairy tale by our dear friend Gregory. I've read both Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. While I think Wicked is generally complicated and that's why it turns a lot of people off, I thought Confessions was WAY too simplistic. Mirror, Mirror hits right about center. It has some of the politics of Wicked, but focuses more on the story. Obviously, it's Snow White. I found the way the dwarves were portrayed was especially interesting.

The Girls - Lori Lansens

I bought and read this book years ago but I just reread it. I forgot how good it was. It's the story of conjoined twins and how they live their lives together, including having relationships, separate feelings and hopes for the future. For being fictional, it was the closest I'll ever get to walking up to conjoined twins and asking "How....what do you....why...." like an idiot.

O, Pioneers - Willa Cather

K, so obviously Will Cather is one of the greatest American writers and O, Pioneers has been around FOREVER, but I had been looking and looking for a copy every time I went to the used bookstore, since I had read it once before and never had a copy for myself. Finally I found one and bought it on the spot, so I could come home and read it slowly. Cather's writing is so simple that it's a refreshing break from the flowery language and forced modernism of a lot of other writers. (*cough* Dave Eggers *cough*) Love the story and love the writing.

Last Night in Twister River - John Irving

Oh, my obsession with John Irving knows no bounds. So I read Widow for One Year and was like, WTH John Irving? Then I read Cider House Rules and swooned everywhere because it was so beautiful. Then I picked up Twister River and liked it so much that I also bought A Prayer for Owen Meany (which I am reading right now.) John Irving is the writer equivalent of sushi - an acquired taste. Now that I understand his writing better, I enjoy his books more. Twisted River is about three generations of men who commit a crime and spend their entire lives running from it. And, as always, Canada is mentioned... YAY CANADA!

Fall of Giants - Ken Follett

Ooh, I love me some Ken Follett. I love to read broad, epic novels and his Pillars of the Earth and Worlds Without End are two of my faves. They seriously helped me get through six weeks of hospital bedrest. With this book, he departs from medieval fiction to World War 1 (yes, more wars. Oh how I love them.) I know a fair amount about WW2, but WW1... not so much. This book follows four families from different countries as the war affects them in different ways. This is the first of a trilogy and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on the next.

The Postmistress - Sarah Blake

K, well now you're going to think I'm really obsessed with wars, because I bought this book about a postmistress who filtered mail during the second world war. Set in both England and the United States, the story bounces back and forth from a female reporter who captures the stories of the war by riding on the refugee trains across Europe, and the postmistress for a small town affected by the war. This was another book that had me bawling because it was so focused on the minor characters and stories involved. It was a quick read, but it stayed with me.

Room - Emma Donoghue

When I heard the premise for this book, I went ahead and pre-ordered it. It's the story of a woman who is abducted and held by her kidnapper for years in a shed. During that time, she gives birth to a boy, and does her best to ensure that his life is as normal as possible. Just the descriptions of the day-to-day activities were fascinating. I won't give away the end, by telling you what I thought about it, only that it was an interesting angle to consider the next time the media blows open a story about an abductee finding her way home.

Well... that should keep you busy, right? I already have three books that I'm reading or that are waiting patiently on my night stand. Poor Justin never sees me when I've got something new to read.


Jen said...

yay! Thanks for more suggestions--not like I don't already have a huge "to-read" list! And I'm like you and become so absorbed in a book I can hardly do anything else!

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