Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately - October Edition!

Too much time has passed since I did I quick rundown of what I've been reading! I'm not sure if this is really a popular blog niche of mine, but I just like writing about books so I miss it after awhile. Today seems a perfect time to ignore my dirty counters and neglected and unswept floors for some books.

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

I bought this in the airport on my way home from Atlanta this summer because I finished a whole chick-lit paperback on the trip to South Carolina and needed something easy and fun to read. I think this is the fifth Elin Hilderbrand book I've read and I just don't know why! She's very formulaic, and while her characters can sometimes be interesting there are occasional periods of prose that make my brain want to vomit. I can go along with the cheese, the melodrama, but start writing bad paragraphs describing sex and I'm out. Anyway! Just remind me next time I'm in an airport to pick any other kind of chick-lit than Elin Hilderbrand. (I just realized I didn't say anything about this particular book. So to sum up: a couple dies, they were having affairs, their friends have complicated histories they explore because of the deaths, lovers mourn, marriages are put to the test, the ending sappily wraps things up. You're welcome.)

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O'Toole

This book is really in a class by itself because it is somehow a crazy mixture of satire and humour, while at the same time a piercing look at human nature and philosophy. It follows Ignatius Reilly from living with his mother and being generally insufferable while penning his Medieval masterpiece to being forced to find an actual job after an encounter with a policeman. What follows are madcap adventures that have acute commentary on society while showing the hero to be a combination of savant and helpless oaf. Walker Percy discovered this novel and I wish I could discuss it with him. Recommended if you're looking for something completely different.

Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

An expertly crafted biography of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for almost 70 days. I'm a sucker for a survival story and this one was interesting in how it told the stories of many of these men as well as South American culture. I thought the book was very well done in how it described the many different aspects of the story from the trials of living underground, the problems that come from instant celebrity, to the role faith and even miracles played in the saving of these men.   I feel this book allowed me into the South American culture while honestly describing extraordinary events.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

I had such a terrible time trying to get into this one. I felt the first 100 pages terribly disjointed and didn't allow me to get close to the characters at all. But as I persevered I found the book left me thinking of the characters and story much more than I thought it would. It tells the life of a British fighter pilot after he survived WWII and it's after effects. His quiet life, his marriage, his relationships with his daughter and grandchildren. It was a thought-provoking read, I just wish the first hundred pages were as well done as the last hundred.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers

By the end of the summer I had read what felt like some major books in a row and needed to hit my store of classic, Queen of Crime stash of mysteries for a break. This novel by Dorothy Sayers follows our hero Lord Peter Wimsey as he solves the death of a 90 year old club member through the tangles of family connections. It's a perfectly paced mystery with loads of Lord Peter charm, and a perfect escape read.

Ok, there's five for today, I'll join up with Jenna for 5 Faves and Modern Mrs Darcy for Quick Lit when she puts that up this month!

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  1. Christy, thank you so much for sharing your reading list!!! I really love posts like this, because my reading list grows more, which is great, because every girl needs more books in her life, right? :) I just finished Corinna Turner's latest dystopian novel "Liberation" (very highly recommend), currently am finishing up "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" (highly recommend), then I have a couple books at the library on hold, but THEN hopefully I can get around to one of these!

  2. Ugh, I had the same problem with Kate Atkinson's Life After Death. I know a lot of people raved about it but the first 100 pages just plain confused and bored I gave up, which I don't very often do! Suffice it to say after your review I don't think I'll be picking up any of hers in the future.

  3. I have to agree that I love these posts! I've found many new authors to feed my hold list at the library (in NYC we can get books delivered electronically--love it!). Did you read Life After Life by Atkinson? That is the precursor book that introduces Teddy. LAL was interesting structurally and had a heart--not just tricks, but real characters.

    I am reading God in Ruins now and it's one of the few books that really made me aware of the trauma of the Greatest Generation. It really brings home how hard WWII was on people who are mainly seen as having served and gotten on with their lives. I'm not done. The middle part to me is plodding. Teddy captured me in the first book and I had hoped that his life were smoother. Atkinson shows it as very human in this second book.

    You should also post your library hold list! More books!


    1. Thanks so much, Andrea!

      I haven't read Life After Life! It seems to be really highly reviewed and lots of people like it, so I should maybe give it a try. I agree that God In Ruins really does a great job of showing how impactful the time serving in the war was on people. How could it not be?! I found that I liked the more after I finished reading it, because it left me with a lot to think about, yet reading it felt difficult. I guess some books are just like that.

  4. I tried one Elin Hilderbrand book last summer (can't even remember the title!) and I couldn't get past the first 50 pages, it was SO BAD! I read certain choice paragraphs to Dave for a laugh, it was that poorly written! I can't believe this woman is a best selling author!

  5. I picked up a Elin Hilderbrand a while back and was really enjoying it until the main character started having an affair and I was like "er, ew, huh?!?!" I was also sort of irritated with the "we have all this money to burn, we live in Nantucket, buy ALL the expensive food!" details of the story--- is that weird? lol! It just took a 'rich people being selfish and self involved' turn and I abandoned it....

  6. Oh my gosh, A Confederacy of Dunces. I read it in college on the shuttle to and from the parking lot to campus and laughed and laughed. I'm sure those around me thought a was rather strange.

    1. It is so funny on so many levels, and I know people say that all the time, but for this book it's actually accurate! I was talking about it yesterday again with a friend, and even thinking back to some of the ridiculous scenes was cracking me up. It's a really singular book, it's hard to explain to people who haven't read it just how genius it is.

      And thank you so much for reading and commenting, Caroline. I'm such a fan of your children's books and your writing in general!

  7. I tried to read an Elin Hilderbrand book, too, and I abandoned it not too far in. At all. I should probably have a 50 or 100 page rule. I've also read that we should try Life After Life before A God in Ruins, but I've not tried either yet! Thanks for sharing!

  8. I think I loved A God in Ruins much more because of the background I had about Teddy from Life After Life. Kate Atkinson really got into my head for a while, and I have still been thinking about both books for months. I still need to pick up A Confederacy of Dunces -- embarrassed I haven't read it yet!


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