Sunday, September 20, 2009

21. Doomsday Book (578 pp.) by Connie Willis (Sep 20). I recommend you not start this book unless you know you have a lot of reading time to finish it. Connie Willis was one of my Clarion West instructors and I bought this during her week so she could sign it for me. I put off starting it because it was so fat and I was afraid it would take me forever to read. I picked it up last week thinking I would just peek at the beginning and shortly thereafter reading it was the only thing I would do if I wasn't sleeping or entertaining my parents. And it's not like it's an uplifting story.

It's the same scenario as To Say Nothing of the Dog which I read last year. It's about a group of academics who use a time machine for research. A young historian wants to go back to the Middle Ages which isn't a great idea but she manages to talk the people in charge into sending her only Oops, she ends up right in the middle of the black death. Meanwhile, in present time there's another sort of pandemic going on. This is an awesome book to pick up if you have H1N1 paranoia. Every time I coughed or had the vaguest sense of headache I felt a twinge of panic.

Really good. I recommend.

Monday, September 14, 2009

20. She's Come Undone (465 pp) by Wally Lamb. (Sep 14). I haven't read a book like this in a long time. A book like what? I don't know ... a big, fat gnarly mass-market book. As I recall, this was one of the first Oprah books. It's a tough one. For about 464 the protagonist does terrible things, says terrible things, acts like a terrible jerk. And terrible things happen to her. Yet, I kept rooting for her and I kept thinking: this book did pretty well. It can't possibly end without something good happening. The writing is wonderful. The characterization is fantastic.

It's about a woman who becomes completely unraveled due, mostly, to the choices she makes but (mild spoiler) she manages to pull herself together. It's not an easy journey. Recommended.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

19. The Gum Thief (275 pp.) by Douglas Coupland (Sep 8). Meredith loaned me this book when I was in Orleans last month. I used to be all caught up on Douglas books but looks like I fell behind around 2004. I think if you like Douglas you'll enjoy reading any of his books (except Girlfriend in a Coma which was dreadful) but if you don't like him, don't bother. I'm not sure I can articulate it other than to say: I like the spot-on observations. It's hard to summarize the book in a sentence but it's mostly about a correspondence between a 20-something woman and a 40-something man that has nothing to do with romance. They're both melting down for different reasons and they help each other out.

There's a moment in the book when Roger says to Bethany, "I'm showing my age, but send me a postcard when you're in your forties and see if you don't agree." p. 241. This cracked me up because I have a variation of this expression: "Call me when you're my age and we'll see how you're doing."

I'm not making any progress on the reading pile (updated photo someday) but I'm making progress on the annex pile that popped up at the end of the summer. Now I have to read a Wally Lamb for our first Arts & Lectures on September 24.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

18. Zadayi Red (350 pp.) by Caleb Fox (Sep 2). Well, this is another book that I was disappointed I didn't like more than I did. The cover art is gorgeous. It's a mythical-fantasy type story -- the bookjacket says it's a retelling of a Cherokee legend. I had a tough time getting into it although once the story got started there were parts in there where I couldn't put it down. Overall I had a tough time connecting with the protagonist and it felt more like a sequence of events rather than an epic tale. I also felt that there were parts that got bogged down in research details and left the story adrift. I would recommend for those into historical Indian stories.