Saturday, September 3, 2011

Seriously Literate-Summer '11.1

Ok, time for me to take some more recommendations...what are your book clubs reading these days? Sobriety means more time for books, (and better reading comprehension) so keep them coming! Here's what I've knocked out in the past month or so...

The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
Ok, FINALLY a series that everyone and their grandma raves about that's actually worth reading. Because, see, I fell for that crap with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I refuse (REFUSE) to read most popular "young adult fiction." (Twilight, anyone?) But I loved these books…I seriously gobbled up the first one, careened through the second (which admittedly was my least favorite of the three), and couldn't read the third book fast enough. If they pull this off well, The Hunger Games will make for some breathtaking movies. I would kill to work on the production/costume design team. Pun not intended...

Basically, in the future, our mostly poverty-stricken nation has been divided into 12 districts, and each year, a girl and boy are drawn by lottery to represent their district in what is known as the Hunger Games...the winner—the last one of the 24 still alive after a battle to the death—is guaranteed a safe, well-fed future for their family. At least, that's whats supposed to happen, but what happens at the end of this years' Hunger Games changes all that, and the winner ends up an unwilling symbol-then unwilling soldier-for the country's unrest and resulting mutiny. I hate books about war and all that crap, so it's really not that kind of story, if that's how I'm making it sound.

It's really hard to give a summation of a multiple book series without throwing out too many spoilers, so I'm just going to leave it at that. Truly disturbing concept, completely surprising, and massively engrossing. The main character is so layered and real...I loved her. Read it.

Zorro, Isabel Allende
This book is really, really long. If you read it, don't make my mistake and start it after the first two Hunger Games books, because you will be in agony trying to finish it so you can zip through the rest of that series. (I don't do the whole two books at once thing, and I don't stop books halfway through, as frustrated as I may be with them. It's rude.)

It took me a little bit to settle into it, but once I did, I was hooked, even when it started careening left and right and continent to continent and going on and ON about whatever events Zorro was participating in at the time. None of it is boring, and it's not really unnecessary, it was just really detailed...I was kind of surprised it didn't detail him sleeping more often. (Though I'm sure that would have been told well, too)

I didn't know going into this that Zorro is like Robin of those characters that authors have taken over history and invented their own stories about. I should have, I guess, but whatever. This particular version tells of his youth and how he eventually begins developing his legendary persona. It's really good...just really long, like I said.

BossyPants, Tina Fey
Oh, Tina, Tina. I want you to adopt me and let me live with you. She's so smart and sarcastic and weird...kind of like my little sister, who is also fantastically entertaining.

I had this idea that she would be focusing more on parenting, so I was surprised that that subject only came up in the last few chapters. Instead, it was more of an autobiography, taking us through how she got where she is, but strewn throughout with completely ridiculous anecdotes and hopefully totally made up side stories.

If you like Tina Fey, and you think 30 Rock is a completely under-appreciated, brilliant half hour of television, you'll of course love this book. If you don't...we're probably not that close anyway. Maybe you'll like the next one...

Cutting For Stone, Abraham Verghese
This is the story of twin boys (told by one of their POVs) raised by a gynecologist and a surgeon at a missionary hospital in Ethiopia. Their genetics and surroundings pretty much ensure their career paths, not surprisingly, but most of the book is really about the heartbreaking/heartwarming aspects of life that happen to their extended, makeshift family in the meantime.

Verghese was actually a physician before he began (also) writing, which means you get a lot of technical details (one of my girlfriends commented that this novel had her reaching for the dictionary more than any other book in recent memory), but with every procedure or screening he discusses, the focus is on the doctor-patient relationship, not the clinical aspect (which meant I skipped over a lot of those scary medical words). I wish he were my physician. If his bedside manner is similar to the way he writes it should be, I'm sure he's extraordinary.

The Taken, Inger Ash Wolfe
This is the second in the Hazel Micallef series…I read the first one a couple months ago and loved it, and this was no different. Detective Inspector Micallef is an awesome character, and this novel is peppered with great supporting characters, which helps makes this generally fast paced mystery super engrossing.

Since this is (hopefully) going to be an ongoing series, I'm not going to review them as I read them—I'll just say that if you're into crime/thrillers/CSI-type stuff, but want more than what you'd normally get from, say, Patterson or Koontz, I say go for it.

1 comment:

  1. Off the top of my head, here are my suggestions:
    - Runaway by Alice Munro
    - The Poet and early novels in Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly
    - The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
    - Home Game by Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball) -- this one is a fluff but funny read that would be good to read along with hubby