Reading

Reading Life – March 2015

March 10, 2015

station_eleven

The Poisonwood Bible | Barbara Kingsolver
This was a gift from my friend Chelsea, and it’s signed! The story draws parallels between the abuse and domination of women and that of the Congo. Religion, culture, environmental and women’s issues all mixed up and thrown together against a family’s plight to survive on African soil. Typical Kingsolver themes and snippets of nature’s beauty. Following the narrative through the wife and four daughters of a bullying Baptist minister, each woman speaking through a chapter, her voice heard, but her story only one piece of the puzzle. I enjoyed the book because I always enjoy Kingsolver. It was the type of novel I wish I read with a book club, if only to have someone with whom to discuss all of the themes, symbols, parallels and foreshadowing. I read it during a rough time and it was absorbing enough to help and not so heavy it hurt.

The Bone Clocks | David Mitchell
This was a gift from my dad for Christmas, and it’s signed! He’s very on top of pop culture and heard it was a good read. Note: I have not read Cloud Atlas, but I’m told The Bone Blocks follows a similar structure. Each chapter is about a different character at a different point in time, and eventually they all overlap, affecting the story of the others. I loved the main character, Holly Sykes, and would’ve followed along even if she was the only narrative focus. Instead, we are given five other character stories, none of which are the strength or smarts of Holly, though she is always woven in somehow. The individual chapters were great, but it was difficult to leave one character for the next. I felt I needed a break after each section. The story as a whole kept me reading, but I wasn’t blown away by the connections made between characters and time. I was randomly confused by the fantasy lingo, though I was definitely open to the super-natural making an appearance. In the way that the language of The Goldfinch was riveting, but the wrap-up came too fast, The Bone Clocks was lovely in pieces, but as a whole, it didn’t soar to the top of my favorite books list.

Me Talk Pretty One Day | David Sedaris
Checked this one out of the library during a recent haul. This is the first book I’ve read by David Sedaris on the recommendation of my sister. Sedaris is smart, cutting, unrealistic, and hilarious in his take on life. This collection of stories follows him through life with his father, to college and doing drugs, to visiting France and learning French to be with his boyfriend. It was just enough judgmental, sick humor to keep my attention, but not cross a line into offending me. It didn’t make me actually laugh out loud (except for one part where his sister jokingly yells “Good luck with that rape charge!” as she exits a subway car, leaving him standing there to the public stare of shame) but it was funny. I don’t read a lot of funny, and this book is my kind humor. For me, it was a great read in chapters before bed, especially during the stickier parts of The Bone Clocks.

Station Eleven | Emily St. John Mendel
I loved this book. It’s a sparkling little novel about the world after a flu-pandemic wipes out most of the human population. It had everything I enjoy. Post-apocalyptic? Check. Commentary about the modern world (and how we’re losing ourselves in it while taking it for granted)? Check. Strong female characters? Check. Overlapping characters? Check. Gorgeous language? Double check. I thought All The Light We Cannot See was beautifully written (one of my favorite books of 2014) and Station Eleven is right up there with it. The author said she wanted to “write a love letter to the modern world. And one way to do that, one way to write about something, is to write about its absence.” She notices details, she gives purpose to minor characters, she describes routines, modern-day habits and the value we place on them, even as the world is slipping away. It was poignant and nostalgic. Highly-recommend. (Also, I should mention, a bit tough to read about a flu-pandemic when you’re traveling on airplanes coming down with a nasty cold yourself hah).

“Toward the end of his second decade in the airport, Clark was thinking about how lucky he’d been. Not just the mere fact of survival, which was of course remarkable in and of itself, but to have seen one world end and another begin. And not just to have seen the remembered splendors of the former world, the space shuttles and the electrical grid and the amplified guitars, the computers that could be held in the palm of a hand and the high-speed trains between cities, but to have lived among those wonders for so long. To have dwelt in that spectacular world for fifty-one years of his life. Sometimes he lay awake in Concourse B of the Severn City Airport and thought, “I was there,” and the thought pierced him through with an admixture of sadness and exhilaration.” ~ Station Eleven

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Reading Life is a recap of my thoughts about books I’ve recently read. I don’t intend to fully cover plot or purpose, but instead, would like to remember how reading these books made me feel. My experience of reading them. You can see all of the books I’ve read in my Library. I would love for you to share your own experiences with reading – if you’ve read any of the above, what you thought, and if you have any recommendations for me – in the comments below.

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