Thursday, July 1, 2010

Read in June

Our cable has been out for the past two weeks, and we were at the beach this past week, so I did a fair amount of reading last month.  Here is what I read (incidentally, the order I read them in is the same order I would rank them, from lowest to highest):


Best Friends Forever, by Jennifer Weiner
This is a quick read, probably best saved for the pool or beach. I did cry at some of the things the main character Addie went through in her life; however, I didn't like the character of Valerie, the ex-friend-coming-back-into-her-life-when-she-needs-help. The plot is somewhat predictable, but it has its moments. Like I said, a good one for when you're out by the pool or at the beach!

American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfield
I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of this one. It is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, which I tried to ignore because it's not meant to actually portray here, just similar life events. I cried at the very beginning (only this time sitting on a plane in first class with only my cocktail napkin to hide the evidence - I am sure all of the businessmen around me thought I was crazy). Once Alice becomes the First Lady, I liked her character and her husband's character less. It's such a long book, that I think by the time Sittenfield got to that point, she struggled with the end and it ended up being weak. Another good one saved for the pool / beach.

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
If you read the over-hyped book jacket, I'm not supposed to tell you anything about this "magical" story, but it is about a young refugee from Nigeria named Little Bee who experienced some horrifying things with a British couple on a Nigerian beach. She made her way to England, and after getting out of a UK immigration detention center after two years, she goes to look for them. I wish the book had been written entirely from Little Bee's perspective, whose character is a great mixture of wise and humorous, instead of trading off with the woman from the beach, Sarah, who I thought came off as selfish. (Although as a man, I don't think Cleave gets the voice of an African refugee and a modern British woman quite right.) This one is definitely worth a read for the issues it tries to address.

The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
Another book with more than one narrator, I very much enjoyed the characters. Leo Gursky is an elderly man and writer from Poland who is separated by the love of his life, Alma, during World War II. He wrote a book called The History of Love, which he believed was lost when it was sent overseas while he remained in Poland. Alma (#2) is a young girl who was named after Leo's Alma from his book, a copy of which made it to her now-deceased father, who gave it to her mother as newlyweds. When her still-grieving mother receives a request to translate it, young Alma sets out to uncover more about this mysterious book in an effort to help her family. Things slowly come together, but not in ways I expected. Funny and sad, I'm still thinking about this one, so it has gone on my list to read again someday.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read.  The day I started I couldn't put it down, and at 2 am, I finally had to make myself go to sleep because I had work the next day. The next morning, I woke up with the voices of Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter in my head.  I was sad last night as I neared the end, because I didn't want it to be over, so I am eagerly awaiting the next book Stockett puts out. (Hard to believe this is her first novel!) That's all I'm going to say about The Help, because if you haven't already, I really want you to read it and come back here and let me know what you thought. (And if you have read it, did you just love it like I did?

What have you been reading lately?  Any good recommendations for me for July?  I think next on my list is The Art of Racing in the Rain, which I've heard is going to make me cry buckets.


Tam said...

If you haven't read MATCH DAY by Brian Eule yet, it's a must for 4th year! Very quick read.

ag. said...

The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of my favourite books!
I just read it last year and cannot stop recommending it to anyone who asks about a book to read. It will definitely make you cry but it is such a good read. I hope you like it!

The Book of Negroes is also a great one but disturbing. Deep and well written.

I think I'll be looking into some of these books you've just read...yay!