Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Reading Journal

Here are my most recent reads:

Murder at the Abattoir by F.S. Barrow
I actually edited this book, which was written by a friend of ours. This is the first in a series of novels that follow the adventures of Phillip Strickland, a retired FBI agent-turned-private detective. In one of his earliest cases as a PI, Phil finds himself investigating the disappearances of several young women, only to discover the very disturbing truth about where they've gone. As its editor, I'm rather attached to the book, so it's hard to be unbiased, but I thought it was a fun read. I really like Phil, the main character, and am currently editing the second book about him.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This was an intriguing read. I loved the first third of the book, which I read mostly outside, stretched out on the porch swing in the warmth of summertime dusk. The author's writing style is very cheerful, descriptive, and endearing, and I loved the character that he created in Pi, a sweet, young Indian boy with a deep love for all things religious. The second third of the book, in which Pi's fortunes take an unfortunate turn, leaving him floating with a tiger on a life raft in the Atlantic ocean, was not as charming, but still interesting. The final third of the book wandered off into the realms of the absurd and I stopped liking the book altogether at that point. I'd still recommend it, though. The writing is too good to miss.

The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
I love any novel that includes Detective Aloysius Pendergast. Sometimes I'll just start missing him, like an old friend, and find myself checking out one of his books just to spend some time together. Preston and Child didn't disappoint with this one. I love their combined vocabularies and senses of humor and novel structuring and, of course, their characters, who, while they don't seem exactly real, are lovable inhabitants of the world of fiction.

1984 by George Orwell
This is classic, intriguing look at a totalitarian society carried to its logical extreme. I hadn't read this since I was 15, and it was an entirely different book from my adult perspective. Much more sex than I'd ever noticed before, for one, but I was also interested in Orwell's ideas about how power is gained and maintained over other human beings.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Oh my goodness. This book is truly a work of art. It is hundreds of pages of powerful poetry-like prose*, in which you stand as a compassionate witness of the lives of his characters during the second world war. This book helped open my heart more to the experiences of German soldiers conscripted unwillingly into the war, and it also reminded me of the ways in which the people of Europe suffered during this time. It is a story about love and loss and courage and resilience and innocence and loss of innocence. Read this.

(*I'll admit, at first the prose felt a little over-the-top, but once I settled into the rhythm, I loved it.)

The Negotiator by Dee Henderson
I ran into an old college friend at the local library and complained to her about the lack of selection. She quickly ran to the Christian fiction section, pulled this one from the shelf, and told me that I HAD to read it. So I did. It was okay. It was fairly predictable and super cheesy, but it wasn't an unpleasant read. If you're into light, adventure-filled, Christian fiction peopled with two-dimensional characters, this book is for you.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
I read this at Soren's recommendation. (How fun is it that I have a kid who can recommend books to me???) It was actually pretty hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud frequently. I also read one of its sequels, Rodrick Rules, and didn't like it as much, but Soren assures me that it's not one of the better ones. He says I should read Cabin Fever next. I shall!

A Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
I LOVED this book. With his characteristically personable and humorous personality, Bryson is the PERFECT person to research and write about science for the average person. He covers everything from atoms to evolution and does so in an extraordinarily engaging way. I particularly enjoyed his insightful history of science, which is packed with some hilariously quirky human beings. I was also surprised to learn how dogmatic science can be, and how difficult it is to introduce new models and theories into the mainstream.

Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
It took me a while to get into this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I learned a lot about life on board a British ship in the late 18th century and a little about precolonial Tahitian culture. Mutiny on the Bounty was not a quick read, but it was ultimately a very satisfying one.

Timeline by Michael Crichton
The book is MUCH better than the movie, if you were ever unfortunate enough to see the movie. It was a fun and interesting book, twining together quantum physics and medieval history.

Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
This is an adoption story, because I don't read enough of those at work.

Lauren is a gifted storyteller, someone you connect with quickly and easily. She honestly describes her journey from being a stripper and heroin addict to being a wife and a mother of a very challenging child. Her journey takes you on the road with her husband's rock band, through the trials of infertility treatments, into the heart of Ethiopia (where they adopt their son), and back into suburban LA, where they struggle through their first several happy but difficult years of parenting. I very much enjoyed this book and plan to read her first memoir, Some Girls.

It has been a very good six months of reading!

3 comments:

Asa said...

Isn't it the ending that makes the life of Pi worth it? I did watch the movie, so I know what happens, but I imagine the book does it better. Because, you know, it's the book.

I'm not into Christian fiction, not into light novels, not into the time setting that all those Christian novels seem to take place, (1750-1900) and not into two dimensional characters. So I had to laugh when you suggested that novel, because it was like an anti-sale.

I haven't actually finished it, because I want to sleep so I refuse to check it out from the library and only read it there, but wool by Hugh Howey is really good and intense. I failed to predict anything in that book. In the later part of the book there is much more language.

I love heavy poetry books, so maybe I'll read all the light we cannot see.

Rachel Skousen said...

Asa!

FIrst of all, I didn't like the weird living island thing that Pi landed on towards the end of the book. And I also hated the story when it turned from animals to people. I know that was the "cool twist," but I hated it.

And yes, my intent was to not-sell the Christian book, bless its heart. Though it was a contemporary story.

I will look into this Wool book.

Read All the Light We Cannot See! You'll be glad!

Melanie Allen said...

It's been a few years since I've read life of Pi but I always thought Pi held that it was animals and that he changed his story so people would believe it? I might have to read it again. I also loved the first part of the book! And the island was so eerie! It was doubly eerie that it seemed not to exist- i.e. No one could find it. Maybe it's something of a kraken.

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