I realized just how long it’s been since I’d written a book post!
As you know, Walt and I moved into a new neighborhood a few months ago… one of the awesome things about our new place is that we are really close to a library. I renewed my library card and have started borrowing books. I’d forgotten just how much I love the library until I began visiting again — the smell of old books, all those hardcover backs with crackling plastic at the spine, the smudges from previous fingers who’d thumbed through pages… Of course, there’s a charm to new books from bookstores, but something about books that have been around and have a bit of history to them makes me giddy.
I’ve been posting my books over on Goodreads, so follow me there if you’d like! Because I’ve read quite a bit since my last book post, I’m going to post one set this week and another set next week :)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: I originally bought a copy of Never Let Me Go for my cousin-in-law last Christmas because I liked the cover, not knowing much of anything else about it. (Yep, I judge books by their covers sometimes.) Maybe I’d unconsciously heard the title swirled around for a while because I think there was a movie starring Keira Knightley that came out around the same time. The story follows a group of schoolchildren from their young ages to their mid-twenties as they learn what it means to be human.
The pacing for this book was interesting. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are interested in something really fast, a driven plot, or tons of action. I kept reading and reading, waiting for the action to actually begin, and by the time I was halfway through I realized that this book slowly builds, builds, builds — not a mountain of building, just slow rolling hills of experiences and insights. It’s slow and a little rambly. That being said, the end message kicked me in the gut. I did end up watching the movie after I’d finished the book, and while it was a good movie, I prefer the book — since much of the story is in the way Kathy tells it, I think the movie misses out on that bit of her personality.
Just Kids by Patti Smith: My mother-in-law told me to read Just Kids. Patti Smith is a really interesting person, and it’s always fascinating to read about artists before they were artists, famous people before they were famous, etc. Not only is the story interesting, but it’s really beautifully told. I had to read this in short bursts over a long period of time so that I could let the words digest. I compare it to eating a really good truffle where you eat one bite a day and it’s so rich that you have to wait another day to take another bite. Some books are like 3 Musketeers bars, where you can just cram it all in and it’s good and enjoyable… but this one is best savored slowly.
Even if you aren’t familiar with Patti Smith and Robert Mappelthorpe I’d recommend this!
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt: I already like Mr. McCourt for Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis, two of his previous books about his life growing up, which I read back in high school. Teacher Man is about how he became a teacher. I was curious about it — mostly because a lot of my friends are teachers and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a teacher (knowing full well that I don’t have the patience or the courage to hold so much responsibility), so that encouraged me to read this.
I don’t think this book is for everyone… Frank McCourt has a very distinct style of writing that I’m sure could annoy some people. But I really enjoyed this!
(And it’s reminded me again that teachers put up with a lot of stuff… and deserve tons of respect…)
The Magicians by Lev Grossman: Walt pushed this book on me, telling me something like, “It’s Harry Potter for grown-ups!” (Eye roll: Harry Potter is for everyone.) I think the most interesting thing about The Magicians is that it’s self-aware of its place in literature: there are multiple references to other wizard novels and pop culture, Tolkien and Rowling included. The book is split into two parts: the first, about the main character Quentin getting into a magical school and learning about his powers; the second, about how he uses the powers after he graduates. The first part was intriguing and I forged ahead quickly, devouring most of the book. The second half was a little disappointing… sort of a slow deflation as the steam ran out.
I know a lot of people who loved this book and can’t wait for the next installment. I will probably read the next one if Walt picks it up, but I’m not compelled to find out what happens to any of the characters. I think this novel was hyped so much that I ended up disappointed when it didn’t meet my expectations. Maybe in a year or two I’ll reread it and appreciate it more.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay: Over the summer, I was missing “Dexter” just a little bit. That show is so intense, and Walt and I usually wait until the full season is over before we watch the entire thing in a marathon, because we don’t deal with suspense very well. So! I decided to read the novel that started it all, the first in the series about our friendly neighborhood murderer. Darkly Dreaming Dexter follows the first season of “Dexter” pretty faithfully, so it’s like re-watching the show with a different set of actors in your mind (a bit eerie). Did you know that Deb is supposed to be a little bit on the chubby side? The show and the book’s endings are different, though, so I’ve got the next Dexter book installment in my reading queue to find out what happens next, because I’m pretty sure the second season isn’t going to match up with next book. I think the book and the show can operate independently just fine (one does not ruin the other, at least so far) so if you’ve been curious what it’s like to read a serial killer’s mind without becoming seriously spooked out (Dexter has more rationality than most, I’d assume), this book is a good read.
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What are you reading? What’s on your book list?