Friday, March 03, 2017

Reading Update

Book 6 of the year was Love Well: Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck, by Jamie George.  "God does not delete your story - " writes George, "He redeems it!"  He shares his own experiences with God redeeming his life story.

Book 7 was News of the World, by Paulette Jiles.  It's 1870.  Johanna was abducted from her family when she was six, and now that she is ten, she's been ransomed and she's on her way "home."  Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is a man who travels around and reads newspapers to audiences who pay a dime each to hear the "news of the world."  He's agreed to take Johanna back to her original family, whether or not she wants to go.  I loved this book, with its intricately detailed portrayal of Johanna and Captain Kidd, and the way they grow in importance to one another.  Highly recommended.

Book 8 was Ann Patchett's latest book, Commonwealth.  It took me a while to figure out what was going on here, because there were lots of characters whom I couldn't keep straight very well.  But when, about halfway through, I figured it out, I was glad I hadn't given up.  The book explores issues about childhood, siblings, and how much of our story belongs to us.

Book 9 was The Girl with All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey.  If I had known what this book was about, I wouldn't have picked it up, and that would have been a shame.  I know that is no help at all for you if you're trying to decide whether to read it, but I think it's best read without knowing too much about it, since you're supposed to realize the situation gradually.

Book 10 was The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country, by Helen Russell.  I hadn't read any of the current spate of Denmark books, and knew very little about the country.  I learned a lot reading this book, written by a British woman whose husband got a job at Lego, sending the couple to Denmark for a year.  It's a mixture of very personal memoir and investigative journalism, and great fun.

Book 11 was Three Sisters, Three Queens, by Philippa Gregory.  I have been waiting for this to become available for download from my library ever since it came out.  The three queens of the title are Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, and her two sisters-in-law, Mary and Margaret.  I'm quite familiar with Katherine and Mary, but Margaret's story is much less known, and while it's pretty harrowing - like all the Tudors and anybody who came near them, particularly women, Margaret had a rough time of it - it also makes for exciting and entertaining reading.  I think I've read all Philippa Gregory's novels about the Plantagenets and Tudors, and now I'm ready for the next one!

Book 12 was A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.  I've wanted to read this ever since a good friend mentioned years ago that it was her favorite book.  I read it aloud to my husband, and since it's over 600 pages long, it took us a while.  This was only my second Irving book, and my husband's first.  Owen Meany is an unforgettable character, and I loved the leisurely manner in which the story is told.  At times hilarious, at times reverent, at times shocking and profane (language and content alerts for days), always vivid, this is the story of John and Owen's friendship against the backdrop of the late sixties and the beginning of the Vietnam War.  John Irving is a simply brilliant writer, and it's a pleasure watching this story unfold.  As John is trying to figure out how he will handle the threat of the draft, he tells Owen that he wants to go on reading, as a student and a teacher: "I'm just a reader."  Owen tells him that's nothing to be ashamed of, because reading is a gift.  It certainly is, when there are books like this to be read.

This post is linked to the March 4th Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon.

It's also linked to Modern Mrs. Darcy's "What I'm Reading Lately" post for March.

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