Monday, March 22, 2010

Book Review


I think occasionally I'll do a blog post to keep you all attuned to what I've been reading, of late. I'm not sure these posts will be huge crowd-pleasers or highly anticipated - but for myself, I'd like to have some documentation so I can remember what books go in & out of my hands. And also, I know some of you friends are big readers, too, so maybe I can sway you one way or another when choosing your next book.

So - what's been in my hands lately...

1) Let The Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
This won the 2010 National Book Award for fiction - and with good reason. It's essentially a collection of short stories; and the majority of the stories are intertwined with each other. The whole thing takes place in 1974 New York, where a tightrope walker has set up a rope between the Twin Towers. I found the idea to be brilliant, generally; that is, to have a strange, rare event as a backdrop for intertwined lives, told through short stories. In a way, the stories are telling each person's tale on the day of the walk - but it goes so much deeper than that. And the walk plays a central part in some stories, and in others, is just an event that happened that day. Really great character development (even though some of the characters are a little difficult).

2) Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill
This is a book about cricket, and life, and love, and New York, and Europe - it has a lot going on, in just about 150 pages. The book is told in retrospect. So it's a man looking back on his life a few years ago. This particular time in his life was pretty tough; and when reading it, even though I knew everything would turn out fine (since it's given to the reader on page one that the narrator is back in the life you'd like him to be in), it was still hard to go along with him through the dredges. It was a great book: brilliant writing, interesting story, good characterization - just sort of tough. (And I'll say that my husband loved the book. But he read it awhile back - so I'm wondering if the reason it was so tough for me was because the narrator's marriage was pretty crappy for awhile [and that's a central part of the story], so it was hard, at times, to stomach the pain, since I myself am a newlywed.) But overall, really good and worth the hype going around the book world.

And finally, the less critically-acclaimed, but personal favorite of the group,

3) Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
I just really enjoyed reading this book. It was fast-paced and interesting, and just sort of fun. It could generally be categorized as a coming-of-age story ("bildungsroman" for fellow English majors). But more specifically, it's about an almost graduated veterinarian, who after some difficult life events, jumps onto a train for lack of something else to do. The train, as you can guess, is not just an ordinary one, but instead the travelling Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth circus. The book takes place during the Depression & paints an interesting, intriguing picture of "circus life" during that time. *

Overall, I'd recommend each book, no doubt!

Next on the reading list:
The UnHealthy Truth (I sort of constantly read this, instead of just sitting down and finishing), The Poisonwood Bible, and Eat, Pray, Love. Stay tuned!

*Another sort of funny aspect of my Water for Elephants reading was that I accidentally bought the large-print edition. Although, I'll say, I kind of liked it! I could read 100 pages in an hour, easy!

7 comments:

LB said...

Oooh, #1 sounds interesting! I love stories that intertwine like that. Glad you're starting this - I need to make a reading list for the summer!

katie said...

oh! brian and i recently watched a documentary about the guy in book #1 who walked the tightrope between the twin towers. it's called Man on Wire. i highly recommend it!

and you'll like poisonwood bible, i think...sad, but awesome.

and i, too, will be looking for some nice free reading books come june...so this is great for me!

b|rad said...

Did you know Water for Elephants is being turned into a movie? I just read about it the other day...

I'm currently reading Jodi Picoult's Second Chances which is like The Green Mile in book form.

Good but depressing.

Claire said...

First comment! I'll make it quick. First, excellent post! Second, you should rent "Man on Wire," documentary about the tightrope walk at the center of "Spin" (a book, btw, a couple of colleagues have recommended to me). Good movie about a pretty extraordinary event. I will add these titles to my long list of books to read.

Claire said...

Ha, I just now saw Katie's comment. Great minds!

Jackie said...

Sweet, guys - I'll add the documentary to the netflix queue!

Thanks for all the comments!

And yes, Brad, I also saw recently that they're making it into a movie (have you read it??) - because, um, Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski...I don't think so. There have been 2 books I've read somewhat recently & then found out they were being made into movies: this one, and Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire (which will star Julia Roberts...which is also all wrong). Why don't Hollywood producers pay ME to help with their casting??

AmyBethJames said...

Jax, you should get on GoodReads! It's a website where you can build a virtual library of all your have-read, to-read, and currently reading books, and share w/ friends, read and post reviews, etc. A fellow reader turned me on to it and I loooove it. Of course, who needs one more thing online to keep up with but it is fun! www.goodreads.com