Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately - I need to catch up!




It's been so long guys. I know it doesn't feel like it to you because you feel like I write about books every other day, but it's been a loooonngg time and I've read 20 books since I last wrote!

The catching up begins now!






Helena by Evelyn Waugh

This was my Waugh pick of the year and if the title doesn't describe it enough it's the fictionalized life of St. Helena. I love Waugh. I love saints. I didn't love this book. The story is well done of course, and the writing is impeccable, but I didn't love it like I thought I would. I wish I had read this one with a book club (I know it's a Well-Read Mom book club pick!) I feel like I missed the heart of it somehow and St. Helena just didn't grab me like I assumed I would. I remember reading Edmund Campion, also by Waugh, and was blown away! That book probably remains the best novel of a saints life I've ever read. If you've read Helena please tell me what I'm missing. It's still a wonderful book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend because it's a good story, but I just feel like I'm missing what makes it really great.





Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

This was probably the book I hated the most last year. And I don't like writing about books I hate...oh wait...I sorta do. It's the chronicle of a young, soon-to-be-disillusioned, woman moving to New York City and working as a server at a top restaurant and the ensuing drama of the staff and those who come to the restaurant. This book is pretty much everything I detest about our generation. The lack of meaning and integrity, the willingness to do whatever it takes to get ahead, the random sex, the lack of principles, the disillusionment that gives us pseudo-wisom. The writing is ok, I like the setting of a restaurant which is why I wanted to read it in the first place, but the story is just....nauseating? It was genuinely hailed as a great first novel and a defining novel for millennials which further depresses me.






Burial Rites By Hannah Kent

The story of a woman accused of murder in nineteenth century Iceland is just as dark and morose as you would expect! But somehow it's captivating and conveys a real empathy as well as a good story. The atmosphere was also one of the best parts of this book and somehow rural and rugged Iceland becomes a character. It somehow reminded me of The Light Between Oceans because of how much a part the sense of place took in the book as well as the emotionally challenging story. If you liked that novel then you might want to pick this one up too.






Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey

I was on an Indian memoirs kick last summer and this was part of it. Although this memoir of the author's childhood in India as it gained it's independence was descriptive of life in India at the time, it didn't dive deeply into the authors own thoughts. I felt it was a perspective I had never heard before, and I enjoyed it for that reason. India still fascinates me so if you've got any good titles send them my way!





The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

The second of the Neapolitan novels was more compelling than the first. I think what helped me in reading this book is that I read it in large chunks on a flight and it really helped me enter into the story better. These novels aren't for casually reading five minutes here, five minutes there. I think they are best read by immersing yourself in them as best you can, then you can really see how far you are falling into their world and how well written they are. I was alternatively shocked and proud as the characters entered adulthood and it just pulled me in again. I wish I could more articulately express how well these books delve into feminine psychology. If you've read them let's talk!


Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for Quick Lit once again.





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14 comments:

  1. I'm gonna have to check out Burial Rites-that looks and sounds really intriguing!
    If you like reading about India, you should take a look at "Karma Gone Bad: How I learned to love mangos, Bollywood, and water buffalo," by Jenny Feldon. It's a memoir of when the author (modern-day) moved to India for her husband's work, and it's pretty hysterical.

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  2. I loved Helena, but I don't really know how to articulate WHY I love it...which I suppose isn't much of a help, is it? ;o) I felt like the last quarter or so of the book was kind of fast but otherwise I really loved Waugh's characterization of her. She was kind, reflective, but also so no-nonsense - especially in her old-age. I'll have to check out Edmund Campion (which is an excellent name, btw).

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    1. I agree with you in that I really loved her characterization. And the writing. And the story. But something I can't put my finger on kept me from loving it for some reason. Maybe I need to reread it someday and see if it makes a difference?

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  3. Have you read Aravind Adoga? Well written fiction on current day India.

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  4. Hands down best novel I've ever read about India: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, it's a mammoth, but SO worth it. Also, but much trickier (complex structure, difficult themes, amazing prose) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
    I really enjoyed most of Midnight Children, but he completely lost me by the end (Rushdie's best work IMO is Haroun and the Sea of Stories, but that's barely set in India). But then all these are pretty well-known so probably not news for you!

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    1. Thanks for those titles Isabelle! They sound great! I'm going to add them to my TBR!

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  5. I'm glad you found the second Neopolitan more compelling than My Brilliant Friend! I might actually read it now. I don't know what I wanted MBF to be, but it wasn't that. Excited isn't the word I'd use for how I feel about reading the next one, but now I'm encouraged at least!

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    1. Haha, the books are pretty love them or hate them I think. If you don't like the second I wouldn't continue the series unless you're dying to see what happens. I just find them so riveting I can't turn away. But I haven't read the final book and I'm interested in the effect the ending has on the story as a whole. It could either make me love them more or a bit less.

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  6. I liked the Neapolitan novels better as I went. Maybe because I knew the characters? They were so depressing but brilliantly written.

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  7. Burial Rites became one of my favorite books after reading it and now I consistently buy it for my (reader) friends as presents. It's so enthralling and depressing and thought-provoking! I have My Brilliant Friend sitting on my piano waiting to read from the library after like 3 months on the hold list, haha.

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  8. I have found a lot of my reading selections from you....but how do you find yours? I used to have time to just peruse the library but no longer!

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    1. From the internet! I find there's a constant source of good titles and suggestions from friends online, blogs, and sometimes Goodreads but I'm never at a loss for what to read!

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  9. Hi Christy! I just joined a bookclub on Facebook hosted by the blogger Leila Miller (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1795323740739633/) and I'm loving it. They already read Helena and now we're reading Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset.

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