I don’t have any finished books to review, so I thought I’d just say a few things about what I’m up to, reading-wise:
I had a library book that I returned last Monday unfinished: Helen Simonsen’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. It wasn’t a bad book, but I wasn’t in the mood for it. I didn’t get very far with it – maybe 50 pages in? The writing style was very assured, but its portrayal of the two main characters and their family and society made me think of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a book I disliked. Everyone but the two main characters seemed to be perpetrators of the ridiculous, motivated by self-interest. I not usually a fan of broadly painted characterization. For example, when the only two American characters were introduced as loud and oblivious – each in a separate instance – it was eye-rolling. That said, I do suspect that Ms. Simonsen would later give some of the minor characters unexpected depth and likability. I think the book is probably worth another shot at a later date, but it was just not engaging enough to keep my eyes from straying to other books I wanted to read more.
I am down to one library book at the moment: Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995. I had actually read about half of it several weeks ago, and while it was very good, I had picked it up while still in the middle of And the Band Played On. The combination of these two harrowing books was a bit heavy, a bit much. So I put Safe Area Gorazde away for a while. It’s due date is next week so I may finish it this weekend.
Once I return Safe Area Gorazde, I’m planning on reading some books of my own shelves. (Library books always trump my own books when they’re around.) I’ve already started on my own shelves by picking up my copy of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and I’m almost halfway through it. I really like it so far – great storytelling and great writing. I know it is well-loved by many readers.
Other books from my shelf that I am considering for near-future reads:
Justin Cronin’s The Passage – I bought this last year, thinking I would dive into it sooner than I have. I am expecting good things.
The Places In Between by Rory Stewart – I liked his book, The Prince of Marshes, but it was a little slow going and hard to follow at times. I think I will like this earlier book of his better, as it is a travel narrative.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – Not sure if I will like this or not. The reviews I’ve seen have been mixed.
They Were Still Born: Personal Stories of Stillbirth, Edited by Janel Atlas – I bought this book because the editor is a friend of mine. I liked hearing about how she developed the idea for this book, and then implemented it. Although the subject matter is sad, I look forward to reading the end result of all her hard work and that of the other writers whose essays are included.
Inside Out by Maria Snyder – I enjoyed Snyder’s book Poison Study. This one is a young adult dystopian book.
Stitches by David Small – I’m definitely more open to graphic novels than I used to be. I’ve heard excellent things about this book.
The Moonpool by P.T. Deutermann – 3rd in the gritty North Carolina-based Cam Richter series. I was flipping my pages through the first two, so I hope this one is as engaging.
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens – I haven’t read older classics much this year.