Sunday, September 30, 2007

a brilliant critique on such and such

I've decided to begin reviewing the books I read. This has been requested many times. I now succumb. My usual excuse for not reviewing them is that I never have much intelligent to say about them except my general impression (e.g. lame, loved it, duller than trout, etc). I read books for pleasure and don't analyze or take them literally, seriously, or personally. I also have very low retention (often, anyway) and tend to forget books immediately after I read them, so all that's left is the impression.

And so, here are the impressions of the books that have shown (past and present) on my recent books list.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: This book may be slow moving and thick, but is well worth the effort. I very much enjoyed this one. I kept checking it out of the library and returning it after I ran out of renewals, and finally got my own copy from paperbackswap.com. This book consoled me during my first month of riding BART, and will always have a special place in my heart. It's fantasy in the real world, with men in suits who read a lot. This book will stay with you, and the ending was most delightful (in a solemn sort of way).

The Robber Bride: I was overcome by the general ickyness of this book. I didn't finish it. I recommend avoiding the aisle this book is on. It is a book about 4 women, 1 of whom ruined the lives of the other 3. The book tells the story of the ruination of each life and, when it isn't a flashback, the events of the present are told 3 times from each perspective. Slow and painful.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: This book was fun. It was a combined with the sequel (where you turn the book upside down and start reading from the other end.) It was somewhat tedious, however, and tended to use the same phrases over and over and beat the P.C. issue to a bloody pulp instead of a delicate froth, as I would have preferred. In its few shining moments, it was clever.

Don't Know Much About History: I'm still not finished with this book. I'm really not that tempted to read it (history, that is) unless I force it on myself on BART, and even then I tend to read it very slowly (I'm in love with fiction, what can I say?). But what I have read is exceptionally delightful and funny. It brings out the (stinging and sarcastic) side of history that you miss in the classroom, and tells all the great stories that you hear history majors telling at parties because they read original documents. But YOU can outsmart them with less effort.

Orlando: I love Virginia Woolf. Her books are strange and hard to follow, but she comes up with the most ludicrous plots that amuse me vastly. This book was her lightest book (in subject matter), and was about a boy who turned into a girl (magically, not medically or emotionally) and seemed to live for centuries on end. It does have a stellar moment that resembles the court case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce as portrayed in Dickens's Bleak House (which is supremely delightful!) where your inheritance money is used up in a long dragged out court case. Lovely book.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7): Uh..totally awesome. It left me satisfied. I will say no more on this one.

The Hours: I read this one because it is a sort of tribute to Virginia Woolf. I saw the movie first and loved it, and meant to read the book. I did eventually start it, only to realize it was most imperative to first read Mrs. Dalloway, which I did. It tells the story of three women--one being Virginia Woolf as she first begins to write Mrs. Dalloway, one being a woman who is reading Mrs. Dalloway, and another woman who is a contemporary woman whose life is similar to Mrs. Dalloway. It was lovely. But sad. Alas!

The God of Small Things: This book was beautiful in style, story, and language, like no other I've read. It's no wonder it won the Man Booker prize a few years ago. It tells a (heartbreaking) story starting at the ends and converges to the middle of the story, the climax, at the end of the book. Each chapter alternates between the beginning and end of a story, so by the time you reach the end of the book you know what will happen, but it is still beautiful. I would be wary of the final chapter, however.

Gilead: I read this book for a book club. It is the ramblings of an old man, in no particular order. It is a challenging read, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you are motivated. It did have great moments and portrayed interesting father/son relationships, but it's hard to get through. Gilead is a city in Iowa.

One Good Knight: A stupid book about a knight who is a woman. I began to suspect Mercedes Lackey wrote badly during this read.

The Fairy Godmother: The prequel to One Good Knight. This book confirmed my then suspicion that Mercedes Lackey writes badly. It was pretty lame. She did create an interesting setting where the story took place, however.

Freakonomics: very cool. I'd recommend this as a must read.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: This is my first time through the book, amazingly enough. From watching the movies, I didn't realize the actual book would be quite so juvenile, but it is. It is definitely written for children, and the story moves extremely fast. It was still a lovely book, nonetheless.

The Stolen Child: I LOVE this book. It tells the story a changling who steals the life of a boy and pretends to be him, as well as tells the story of the boy whose life was stolen and goes to live with the other changlings. It is interesting, moving, and beautiful. I highly recommend it.

The Alchemist: This book is very short, but very good. I loved this book as well. It's about a shepherd boy who goes in search of his "personal legend." I highly recommend this one as well. If you drive, I'd recommend listening to it. The narrator's voice is the icing on the cake.

The Enchanted April: I'm still reading this one, but so far is excessively delightful!

The Corrections: Also still reading, but is very diverting.

6 comments:

UsedToBeDay said...

yay! i'm glad for your reviews. i think they are all very well done. I think it's funny that you read the Fairy Godmother, even though you already suspected the writing to be bad.

Laura said...

It's true. I've read many stupid books in my day. I think I was too curious about the book to fully acknowledge how lame it was.

Rebecca said...

Great list. Keep it up!

cellodonna said...

Re Enchanted April: It's also a movie; your despcription of "delightful" applies to that as well.

Laura said...

Yes, I recall seeing it many years ago. Luckily it was far enough back that I forgot the plot:)

j the b said...

Oh, brilliant! I'm so glad you're doing reviews!!

I *love* book reviews. (Interesting ones.) I too read books for pleasure, but discussing them gives me just as much pleasure.

I like the impression digest/blurb style. It's a happy medium. If I covered my recent books with my usual post-per-book it would consume my blog (leaving no room for my other blather).

So long, and thanks for all the fish.