Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Too many books!

I've been meaning to post reviews/comments about the books I've been reading - both for Book Club and for fun - but I've been procrastinating.

Maybe it's just not that important to me?
Maybe I'm just lazy?
Maybe I'm preoccupied?
I dunno.

Here's a list of recently read books and a note or two about each (finally)...

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society -  M.A. Shaffer & A. Barrows
  What a fun book!  You wouldn't know it from its setting - post-WWII Europe (1946); Guernsey had been occupied by the Nazis for 5 years during the war.  It's written entirely by letter (correspondence between the characters) and describes the wonderful connection people have with books & each other.
  This was a "quick read" for Book Club - I rated it a 4 (out of 5) while the average among the members was 4.33.  Probably the only reason why I didn't rate it higher was because that the ending was rather predictable.  I still enjoyed it very much.  If you need a light read with a happy ending, read this!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - J. Austen and S. Grahame-Smith
  If you haven't ready P&P before reading this book, stop right now.  Read Jane Austen's book first.  Pride & Prejudice is AWESOME!  It definitely rates in my top-10 favorite books of all time.  The "play" between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy fascinates me.  In fact, all the characters keep my attention, no matter if I like them or not.  I heard in an interview (I think it was A.S. Byatt who said it) that Jane Austen makes the reader feel clever.  I agree.  As the story unfolded, I had many an Ah-Ha! moment when I, cleverly, figured out the latest twist.
  P&P&Z, on the other hand, felt slightly forced.  I definitely enjoyed it (this was a "for fun" book).  I liked the Ninjas and the references to fighting skills in the women as a positive trait in a mate, but much of the "zombie mayhem" the book promised was lack-luster and not very clever. 
  If this was a Book Club book - the group would never go for it - I'd probably give it a 3.  I don't know if I'd recommend it to others, but I wouldn't discourage people from reading it.  It has its merits.  P&P, on the other had... BIG 5!

Possession: A Romance - A.S. Byatt
  This was a Book Club book.  I recommended it as our "light summer read". Boyyyyyy, was I WRONG!  Let me explain...
  Each summer, we hope to get an author to come to Book Club to discuss her book and writing process.  If we don't get an author, we nominate "lighter" books to read since it's summer and everything is supposed to be light & fun in the summer.  :)
  This summer, the author visit fell through (or didn't get started, I'm not sure).  Either way, in May, or there-about, the group was asked to nominate books for the 2009 summer gathering.  The day before the nomination meeting, I got a flyer in the mail from the Just Buffalo Literary Society about their reading program - they promote 4 books in their "If All of Buffalo Read the Same Book"series.  In it, was what sounded like an action-packed, romantic novel about people who love books.
  "Great!" I thought, "This will be perfect for our group!"
  If you have read Possession by AS Byatt, you know this is NOT a light read.  It's incredibly dense, highly literary, and totally big-brained... so much so that only 6 out of 20+ Book Club members finished it (and we have some smart cookies in the Club).
  I learned after I was about 1/2 way through that there is a READER'S GUIDE to the book... not Clif Notes, but kind of a "how to read Possession" guide.  On Amazon, one of the Guide's reviewers said "It's more like if you invited a person who was way "too" smart and "too" informed to your book club discussion." You needed this to get all the subtle references that Byatt includes in the book.
  Since I was the one who recommended the book, I was asked to lead the discussion.  This was the only reason why I didn't give up on the book, too.  By page 200, I was wondering where it was going and if it would ever pick up.  It finally did, in Chapter 12, and in the end I was glad I finished it.  The story is wonderful... sadly, tho, it's so tedious (in my humble, not-so-literary opinion) that much of the joy of reading was bogged down.
  The group never rated it because so few people actually complete the novel.  But I would have given it a 3.5.  A great story, but tough to get through.  I might try reading it again 5-10 years from now... we'll see.  I would highly recommend the movie (with Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart), however, it was everything I was hoping for in the book.

I'm currently reading two new books... one for Book Club (A Confederacy of Dunces, J.K. Toole), and one for fun (Book #2 in the Sookie Stackhouse-Vampire series by C. Harris).  I'll save my comments about those for another time.

What are YOU reading?

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