Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 third quarter reading round up

Posted by lea at 1:56 PM
Brief review of books read between July-September 2010:

The Diary of Anne Frank
This is a particularly moving read because we know the author's fate before we begin (for anyone who's lived under a rock for the last 50 years, Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl who died in a concentration camp during WWII), but even without allowing for the fact that it was written by a 13-15 year old, it's a really well-written account of her life in hiding during the war, and it's an oddly intimate experience reading someone else's diary. She was a really lovely person, honest and refreshing and hopeful even against all hope - no wonder it's such a classic.

Daddy Longlegs, Jean Webster
This is a lovely book (written in 1912) in the form of letters from an orphan to her benefactor, who sends her to college. It's a coming-of-age story and a love story in one, which I remembered reading and loving at around 13 years old. It was just as good as I remembered. You can read it for free on project gutenberg.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, MA Shaffer & A Burrows
Whilst I love the idea that this book was the first published work of 70-year old first time author, I'm afraid I didn't find it as charming as the rest of the world appears to have. It was quite predictable, and the letter-writing method of storytelling didn't quite work because many of the letters sounded contrived. It would've worked better told in straight narrative.

The Bride Stripped Bare, Nikki Gemmell
I'm trying not to re-read books on my bookshelf, but while I'm waiting for my new purchases from the Book Depository, I picked this one up because I remember it being a quick read. Second time round, the device used to sandwich the narrative (the bride is missing, the manuscript was found by her mother) is even flimsier than ever, but kudos to Nikki Gemmell for the second person present tense narrative, which is difficult and at times sounds pretentious, but she manages to make it quite lyrical and create a unsettling tone for the book.

East of Eden, John Steinbeck
East of Eden is a fascinating book full of character studies, most of them one-dimensional, but fascinating nonetheless. 

Wutherng Heights, Emily Bronte
The fact that my review is titled 'Wuthering Heights sucks big time' kinda gives away how I feel about this book. It's seriously atrocious - the characters suck, the plot sucks and the writing sucks.

Turkish Gambit, Boris Akunin
(The Great Library Challenge: Author A)
I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy historic Russian crime fiction, but Boris Akunin kinda made it fun. Set during the war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, this is one of a series of books about Erast Fandorin, a modest gentleman sleuth. It seems to be written a bit tongue-in-cheek and that's just the way I like it.

Beat the Reaper, Josh Bazell
(The Great Library Challenge: Author B)
With its punchy, fast-paced narrative, Beat the Reaper is a great holiday (or anytime) novel about a one-time wiseguy turned doctor who's under witness protection. It'll make a great movie when it comes out too - apparently starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

Breakfast at Tiffanys, Truman Capote
(The Great Library Challenge: Author C)
The fact that this appears to be one of the defining novels for American literature (or am I making this up?) says something about the disenfranchised state of a generation who loved it and allowed it to define them. Holly is a seriously emotionally troubled young woman and I couldn't help but finish the book thinking it would be far better for her if she could just get some professional help.

The News Where You Are, Catherine Flynn
On the whole, I have to say that the book doesn't live up to the blurb about Frank Allcroft, a local news anchor and the 'unfunniest man on Earth'. It does have some depth and a message about growing older, but it's such a bland read that I just couldn't get into it.

Becoming Strangers, Louise Dean
(The Great Library Challenge: Author D)
This is a 'character study' novel about two couples who meet on holidays, one party from each couple being seriously ill in some way. It's about life and growing older and... yet another bland book I couldn't get into.

The Sandman: Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman and graphic artists
Really amazing graphic novel about a family of siblings who are Dream, Death, Desire, Destruction, Delirium, Despair and Destiny. Each chapter is drawn by a different artist, and each has a uniquely stylised feel. It really creates a whole different world that's really easy to immerse yourself in. Highly recommended.

Ramona's World, Beverly Cleary
I was stoked to find that Beverly Cleary had added a new volume to her Ramona series, which I LOVED as a kid. Although it was written around 15 years after the last one, it's a seamless and timeless addition.

Wow - I can't believe three quarters of 2010 is already over!!!!


snowdomes on October 12, 2010 at 3:46 PM said...

Ooh. The graphic novel sounds great! Is this too predictable for me? Actually, that's one of the few reviews that sounded positive!

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