It is a hot August night. My summer is coming to a close. And, all the free time that was spent devouring books of a variety of pages and covers and genres is ending as well (sniff). This summer, I read 20 books. Compared to my total last year (a lousy 16), I feel well accomplished and ready to take on the school year ahead. Here’s the other 12 books I read since my last blog post about my reading progress:
1) Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: I am a huge fan of The Great Gatsby and literature that recreates the Roaring Twenties. Two friends and roommates encounter a banker in the glitz and glam of New York City in the 1920′s and let fate intervene, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Told in a first person narrative, Rules of Civility transports you to the streets of NYC in the Jazz Age and invokes the sights, sounds, and nostalgia, along with the drama.
2) And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: Hosseini is currently one of my favorite authors. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns are definite must-reads. In Hosseini’s latest work, he tells the story of two siblings separated at a young age and the family ties and stories that link them together through generations and continents. Hosseini knows how to transition between narrators effectively and the language is poetic and real.
3) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: I read this novel when I was younger, but I revisited it because of the soon to be released film adaptation. And I have to say, I appreciate it so much better. In a world where children are raised to battle the alien threat, Ender grows up to become hardened and educated in obstructing the future attack. Filled with violence and dry humor, Ender’s Game is a fast-paced, intelligent read.
4) Joyland by Stephen King: Working at an amusement park with a haunted ride apparently serves as a great summer job for the recently broken-up with Devin Jones. As the legacy of a murder casts a shadow on the beloved summer landmark, Jones works to get over an ex-girlfriend while making new comrades, living new memories, and watching his back.
5) Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: The entire town of Crosby, Maine revolved around the retired Olive Kitteridge, a former school teacher. Her ego and prejudices may interfere with her social graces, but her appearances and remarks progress the reader into delving into the lives and thoughts of those she encounters. She is definitely a memorable character.
6) The Dinner by Herman Koch: Two brothers and the wives meet for a simple dinner at a posh restaurant in Amsterdam. What seems to be an evening of catching up turns into a meeting about a crime committed by the sons of both brothers. The nature of the crime and the consequences are revealed in an intriguing matter and the repercussions on both families make for a great psychological story. After I finished it, I toyed with the ending.
7) The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: This novel chronicles the ups and downs of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage to Hadley, a young woman who is transported abroad and subjected Hemingway’s genius and instability. It was interesting to see the famous writer revealed in a different point of view and helped me renew interest in his works and the story behind each one.
8) The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty: Another novel taking place in the Jazz Age, The Chaperone tells the story of the soon-to-be famous Louise Brooks and her chaperone, the middle-aged Cora Carlisle. Louise moves to New York City to pursue a career in dance while her chaperone has her own agenda regarding her past. I didn’t actually know that Louise Brooks was an actual famous film actress and this book allowed me to get to know her, little by little.
9) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This is one of the few books that I have read that has brought me to tears. I love books that do this; it shows that even writing can bring out emotions. Taking place in Nazi Germany, The Book Thief tells the tale of a girl named Liesel who steals books. While learning how to read, she faces the life and times of civilians during a tumultuous time. I know that doesn’t say a lot, but it is better not to know a lot about this book before reading it. It is better to unwrap the words yourself.
10) Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl was my favorite book last year at this time so I wanted to read something by the same author. Sharp Objects takes the investigation of the murder of two young girls and turns it into something darkly comic and disturbing. While discovering the culprit, you also discover the flaws of the narrator and the setting in which the murders take place. I absolutely love Flynn’s writing style; it oozes sarcasm and is really raw.
11) White Dog Fell From the Sky by Eleanor Morse: In 1976, Isaac is forced to flee the violence of South Africa and ends up in Botswana to avoid being claimed by apartheid. Though he is a medical student, Isaac finds a job as a gardener to an American woman and tries fitting in to his new environment. When he disappears, his boss takes special interest and vows to bring him back home.
12) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson: It were given the chance to relive your life, would you change any aspect of it? For Ursula Todd, life is just deja vu. She is born every time on a winter day in 1910 and relives her life with the same occurences, except she has the power to change them for the better – or for the worse. And when World War II begins to threaten the very existence of the European continent, Ursula must balance personal and emotional struggles to make her life-altering choices.
I’m looking forward to reading some more later. Hopefully, I can manage to squeeze a few books into my fall schedule on top of everything else.