Books – November Roundup

Guys – SIX BOOKS!  And only one of them is a comic book.  It’s like the good old days.  And if you’re wondering how I did it and thinking, “Oh – it must have been all that time off she had at Thanksgiving” – think again.  I took no time off at Thanksgiving, and still managed it.  The real answer is lots of errands and driving back and forth places which are at a distance (because: audiobooks), and also choosing shorter books.  Here’s what those were.

FINISHED:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I, uh, didn’t like it.  The second chapter, which is three different scenes which are all interspersed and change back and forth without transition was so discombobulating in audio format.  It’s possible that looking at and reading those different scenes would have been less confusing, but eh?  I just wasn’t a fan.  This was part of my “classics” self-imposed reading program, and as much as other people seem to like this book, I just didn’t get the appeal.  I get what was being said about the world, but the way it was done did not speak to me.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Now this one I did enjoy.  I was surprised at how short this was considering it’s been big on my radar for a year plus.  The short version of the story is this: a middling physics professor is kidnapped, asked if he is happy with his life, and then wakes up in a world where his wife and child are not there, but in which he is wildly successful professionally.  Lots of cool discussion about interesting science stuff, but also with a good emotional balance.  Does not waste time, and also leaves things in a sort of nebulousness which could either set up for a sequel or spin-off.

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This was my book club book for the month, and I thought it was great.  My fellow book clubbers had made sure to say I should read either the kindle or hard copy version so I could see the accompanying illustrations, but I wish more of them had had the chance to listen to the audiobook which was narrated by the author himself.  It’s amazing how a narrative performance can change the way we feel about a book, but it was also a smart move because I don’t think there are a lot of Native American audiobook narrators out there (please correct me if I’m wrong and you know the answer!), but it’s also a partly biographical tale.  Hearing Alexie tell what is essentially the story of part of his youth, and convey the emotions and truths about being an Indian and trying to also live in the White world was just SO resonant.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Hey – another YA book!  This one surprised me.  Mainly because in the past the books that Green has written have focused on the romance, or the possibility of romance for young people.  And while there was a romance in this particular story, it was at the very least secondary to the story of Aza and her mental illness.  It’s possible you could argue that the romance was even tertiary to the story of the struggles Aza has with her best friend Daisy, some of which are related to her illness, and some of which are related to a FOURTH plot which is the ostensible reason for the book?  In any case, I really liked how the book dealt with mental illness, and with Aza’s thought spirals.  It was very realistic, it didn’t try to solve everything by the end of the story, and didn’t try to put a happy bow on it all where the love of a boy solves everything for this girl.  Because that’s not how things work.  Anyways – fascinating stuff, and made me continue to admire John Green for not taking the easy road and doing his one trick all the way to the bank.

Fables, Vol. 9 by Bill Willingham

I’m starting to approach the edge of what I remember reading in the past from this series, and what is beginning to be fuzzy and feel new.  I am constantly amazed by any long-running series with a multitude of characters which can keep those characters relevant and part of the story without losing too much time to “catching up on how everyone has been”.  This particular edition sets things up for a final point in the future, and I will be fascinated to see how that actually played out since the series was ended a while ago.

The Color of Water by James McBride

I remember hearing about this book when it came out more than TWO DECADES ago, and being intrigued but not really knowing what it was about.  But now that I’ve read it, I get why it was such a success.  I loved this story.  I loved listening to James’ perspective on growing up, and how that contrasted and also mirrored his mother’s own experiences.  I don’t know if McBride rewrote much of his mother’s portion, or if that’s mostly based on her own words, but it was just so blunt and hilarious and I loved it.  And then James talking about his family life growing up was beautiful despite the fact that they obviously struggled with money and James with identity.  I now want to read McBride’s book “The Good Lord Bird”, which won McBride the National Book Award a few years back.

IN PROGRESS:

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Another YA book with illustrations, and another with a fan-fiction related plot.  I put myself on the list for this at the library a few months back and it finally arrived.  Fingers crossed it’s another zippy one that will push me to my goal which is approaching since we are now entering December!

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

Everything I’ve read by Michael Lewis I’ve enjoyed so far.  And this one is interesting so far since I can see similarities to another book I read last month – “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” which was about animal behavior and cognition.  This book seems to be a lot about human behavior and decision-making, and so far, I’m digging it.

***

Guys – I’m SO CLOSE.  I need to read 5 books in the month of December, and I think I might be able to do it.  Especially counting comic books, but I also have this hope that I’ll go OVER my anticipated goal, and that comic books won’t be as high a proportion of that goal.  Or at least that if you compress a few of them together into bigger “books” that will still get me to my goal, but be closer in length to what most people think of as traditional book length.  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  I’m going to do it this year, and I’m so excited, especially since I failed last year!

2 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    Glad you like Turtles All the Way Down! It might be my new favorite John Green novel. If you haven’t heard Green talk about his personal experience with this book, I highly suggest you seek out either his Fresh Air interview from a couple months ago or else some of his Vlogbrothers videos on the subject. I am so appreciative of his determination to destroy the myth that madness is somehow a prerequisite for genius. Aza is really the anti-Sherlock Holmes (and obviously their shared last name is no coincidence there). Her OCD did not make her a brilliant detective. In the end, it isn’t even she that solved the mystery, is it? It’s Daisy.

    The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian has long been on my radar. This has reminded me to actually add it to my Goodreads. It’s also good to know that the audiobook is good; I might try to get the audiobook copy of this one.

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Brave New World! I’m not sure how I would have reacted to it if I had read it outside of the context of an English class. I think approaching it in that way enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

    1. maggie says: Reply

      Will definitely look for that episode of Fresh Air. And you would really enjoy TATSPTI (jeez – even the acronym is unwieldy!).

      I think my main issue with Brave New World is that none of the characters in the book are ones that I felt emotionally connected to. They felt robotic. Even John, the most human of the bunch, felt off. So…eh? And I was never very good at the academic version of literary criticism, so I’m not sure reading it in school would have made it any more enjoyable to me. :/

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