Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately - Book Notes

For some reason I haven't written about any books I've read lately so I thought I'd do a quick recap or else I'll be bogged down with book reviews around here. And I won't have a reader left!

Here's what I've been reading:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I recently read Donna Tartt's first novel The Secret History, and was impressed with how well done it was and how much it pulled me into the story for being what I thought would be an unappealing plot-line. But Donna Tartt's brilliance as a writer succeeds in pulling the reader into a different world, with surprising emotional impact. The Goldfinch has been the biggest serious book release of the last year, and I was surprised with how much I enjoyed reading it, even when there was difficult sections to read. The plot follows Theo Decker and the tragic loss of his mother and his relationship with The Goldfinch, a priceless work of art he takes in the aftermath of the bombing that kills his mother. It is a modern Dickensian storyline that explores the themes of loss, beauty, art, luck, fate, self delusion when it comes to sin, and our personal tendencies towards sin and how difficult it can be to change once we discover our weaknesses. It's most definitely not a cut and dry take on morality, but it does an excellent job provoking a deeper introspection when it comes to human nature and what can change our lives for better or worse. I think it will prove to be a classic.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This was such a great, light-hearted, yet endearing book I can't help but recommend it. It's a romance that centres around the eccentric Don Tillman who probably lives with undiagnosed Aspergers syndrome. The story is seen through his quite wonderfully odd world view that brings to life a hilarious, yet very touching love story that is entertaining but also speaks to what it means to love in a very thoughtful way.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

A massive, yet very well done biography of a leading German Protestant theologian and minister during the Nazi era. I admit I skimmed a lot of chapters, but what stuck out for me was the family culture of Bonhoeffer growing up which produced three sons who stood up to Nazism to the point of death very beautifully portrayed. Also; it was really interesting to read about the effect of faith mixed within a nationalistic culture. Hitler used the German church for his own benefit and then turned upon it with the cooperation of much of the church hierarchy until the very end. Bonhoeffer saw how Hitler's philosophy and politics was toxic to Jews, and in turn Christians, and the need for Christianity to defend and stand up to him, but so many church leaders looked past this for the sake of maintaining a German church. It really shows the wisdom of Christ founding a universal Church, one not dependent on geography, race, or nationality. The historic context is very well done, I felt as if I learnt so much German history by simply reading along.

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Princby Jane Ridley

I admit I didn't make it through this one but enjoyed the writing. I love a good royal biography, but I simply couldn't make it through the decades of romantic escapades that are described in full detail. I think it must be a difficult topic to try and tackle so I'm in full admiration of the writers who research and try to make sense of the Victorian era, and especially Edward who was really a singular figure of his time. Much like Prince Charles now, it was a difficult spot to live a perpetual life of waiting to ascend the thrown but never being given any experience or opportunity to gain experience in ruling. I wish I could have made it to the point in the book where he becomes king, but maybe I'll try again sometime. Oh, and Victoria was a very complicated monarch, and her mothering style is one that is not to be imitated whether you're a royal or not!

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Reading every Jane Austen novel in a year is so much fun! I thought I'd get bored, but we're half way through now and I can honestly say that reading a little Jane a day makes me a much happier person!

And would you look at that - FIVE books to talk about...I guess I'll have to drop by Hallie's and so should you! Since it's What We're Reading Wednesday I'll have to link up with the lovely Jessica too! 

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  1. I read Bonhoeffer earlier in the winter too after watching a Netflix dcoumentary about him with my husband. LOL, I also admit to skimming some chapters where it got dry and a little hard to focus on, but overall I thought it was a great read and gave amazing insight into the struggle for Christians during Nazi Germany which is something I've never really thought about....I have to add The Goldfinch to my list, sounds like a good read! :)

  2. Persuasion is my favorite! Would you say that The Rosie Project is for adults only or what about teens?

    1. I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to teens. Although I think the moral behind the story is a good and worthy one, it does have instances of language and bad secular views towards sex. So, only an older teen would be my recommendation.

  3. So glad you liked the Rosie Project. I did too.

  4. I have been meaning to check out The Rosie Project, it is going on my list for sure!

  5. I love your bite-sized reviews. I have Bonhoeffer on my Kindle, but it is just so hard to not read fiction. It sounds like everyone is reading The Rosie Project. Must check it out!

  6. I have The Goldfinch and The Rosie Project on hold at the library. And while I may get my hands on Rosie before the summer's's looking like I'll be waiting for Goldie for a good long while.


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