Tuesday, October 02, 2007

September Reads

September was a good reading month for me - seven books and nearly all of them were quite enjoyable. I think I'm going to change the format of these reading posts and just rank the books and give a brief summary or explanation of what I thought of them. Maybe one sentence plot summary and one sentence review.

7. Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlan. Follows the lives of the Fitzmaurice sisters after the elder sister utters an expletive on her morning television program. This book deserves its own post on everything that is wrong with "contempory literature." (I'm gathering the mental ammunition for that post - Quindlan and Jodi Picoult are my Exhibits A & B. Anyone else have any suggestions?)

6. The Blue Zone by Andrew Gross. Kate's perfect family implodes after her father is arrested and then enters (and subsequently disappears from) the US Marshall's Witness Protection Program. A by-the-numbers thriller with nearly every twist telegraphed from miles away. That said, it does what it says on the tin and is sort of the reading equivalent to a mindless yet fun action movie.

5. The Lighthouse by PD James. Adam Dagliesh and his team travel to a remote island off Cornwall to investigate the suspicious death of a difficult and demanding writer. This is another book that probably warrants its own post - it was interesting but difficult to read and I'm still not sure what I thought of it.

4.A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Documents Bryson and his friend Katz in their attempt to hike the Applachian Trail. Well, part of it at least. Funny and enjoyable in places, whiney and like carrying your own 70-pound rucksack in others, this was not my favourite Bryson book although it's worth a read.

3. Snow Blind by PJ Tracy. When the corpses of two cops are discovered concealed inside snowmen, the Minneapolis PD has a tough case on their hands, which only gets tougher when a similar discovery is made in a nearby rural county. Good plot, good characters, enjoyable read.

2. Exit Music by Ian Rankin. After 20 years (and 17 books), DI Rebus is forced into retirement, but first he has to clear up a few cases. A good end to Rebus' run although hopefully we haven't seen the end of him. (Rankin is my absolute most favourite writer, Rebus one of my favourite characters.)

1. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. What if being gay were completely normal and a high school could have a transsexual quaterback/homecoming queen? This book is a rare beast - magical realism in a high school setting with a unique voice, lovely writing, and engaging story.

9 Comments:

At 3 October 2007 at 12:27, Blogger John of Dublin said...

Nice pithy summaries! Well done.

I bought my wife The Lighthouse by PD James last year after listening to an interesting interview with the author on Rattlebag.

My wife loves novels but she found it dull and over-descriptive. I then read it selectively and more or less agreed with her. I think PD James worked during the war years in administration and on first glance to me she seems to have a rather blinkered "revered from below" view of her character Dalgliesh, as a secretary might view a boss almost. Little things give this away like her mentioning him having to go to meetings but not saying what the meetings are about, etc. I could be wrong as I didn't read too much of it, but I'm curious on what you think.

 
At 3 October 2007 at 12:29, Blogger laurie said...

i cannot stand anna quindlen.

i liked "a walk in the woods," though it's not my favorite bryson book, either. though after just finishing "notes from a small island," i realized that none of his books are my favorite.

he's kind of a lonely, solitary traveler, at least in "island." even though he's funny, in each chapter he basically wanders into a new town, looks around, and has somehting to eat and then goes to bed.

i am reading "lonesome dove." have you read it? you might like it. i'm loving it.

 
At 3 October 2007 at 18:14, Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I love Anna Quindlan and PD James. Read Walk in the Woods and have to agree with your assessment. And unloike laurie, I love Bill Bryson. Lonesome Dove is very good.

 
At 3 October 2007 at 19:44, Blogger Kaycie said...

You read so many books in a month. I am a big reader, always have a book or two or three and a magazine by my bed and my chair, but I never finish more than a book or two a month. Maybe it's the kids. Yeah. That's it. I'll blame the kids.

I really enjoy reading what you like and what you don't. I think we may have similar taste in books. (I had to avoid your Harry Potter post like the plague because I have three kids it will go through before it gets to me!)

 
At 4 October 2007 at 20:59, Blogger -Ann said...

John - Thanks - I used to do long drawn out book reports but then was put to shame by Laurie's family site where they review books in 5 words. Five words! I like your comments on James and Dagleish - I think you're onto something there.

Laurie - Have you read "In a Sunburnt Country"? I think that's Bryson's best book. I've not read "Lonesome Dove" -is it that Larry McMurtry western?

WUASTC - Who else do you like to read? Have any good mystery recommendations? I am in the market for a new detective series.

Kaycie - It's simple mathematics. No Kids + No Real Television + Middle of Nowhere = Big Book Numbers for the Reading Geek. Although even for me, last month was an aberration. I usually average about 5 books a month. I can (and often do) read an entire book on a Sunday.

 
At 5 October 2007 at 18:29, Blogger stwidgie said...

I read a couple of the Adam Dalgliesh novels and was just not moved. Rather bloodless (except for the crimes, of course). If I want that sort of thing, I prefer (early in the series) Martha Grimes.

And here's an odd thing; I shuddered my way through a (loud) home theater screening of "Children of Men" which is based on a novel by PD James. I don't know how much liberty the screenwriters took with her book, but it seemed very different from her usual ilk.

As for Bill Bryson, my favorite books of his are the two about the English language: "Mother Tongue" and "Made in America". The travel ones I've mostly enjoyed, but "The Lost Continent" was too mean-spirited for my taste. Have you tried "Last Chance to See" by Douglas Adams? Nothing like his science fiction, it's his account of traveling around the world learning about endangered species. It might be the best thing he ever wrote (though I quote the Hitchhiker's Guide in my sig block).

Thank you for the book reviews. If you summon the energy to do your longer write-ups, I'll look forward to those!

 
At 6 October 2007 at 17:02, Blogger laurie said...

-ann, no, i haven't read bryson's aussie book. but if you like it, that's good enough for me. i'll put it on my teetering stack by the bed.

and yes, lonesome dove is by mcmurtry. i picked it up because my brother has been to his bookstore a couple of times and really admires him.

it's a gripping book.

i am going to finish it this weekend! maybe. i have 350 pages to go. (it's like 800 pages long. yet it goes so much faster than "ulysses," which is the same length.....)

 
At 9 October 2007 at 00:51, Blogger The Rotten Correspondent said...

Okay, I'm getting ready to start Rise and Shine. Are you saying don't? Because laurie has already given me what for and stopped me from starting it once.

Is it really awful?

 
At 9 October 2007 at 07:39, Blogger -Ann said...

Stwidgie-I've not read the Douglas Adams book you recommend. I'll have to add it to my BookMooch wishlist. I was very surprised, too, about Children of Men being from a PD James book.

Laurie - I know my dad has that book on a shelf in the basement (I can see it in my head) and he also loved it. I might need to 'borrow' itduring my visit there in November.

TRC - It depends how much a certain writing style annoys you. Do you enjoy Jodi Picoult? How about the water for elephants book? If you're cool with those, then you'll probably enjoy 'Rise and Shine.' If you find that style cloying, overly-self-congratulator, and too self-conscious, then you won't like it. Sure - give it a go - it's not that long and if you get 50 pages in and don't like it, you can stop.

 

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