Friday, September 1, 2017

Books I Read in August

Well, August was an intensely busy month, but I still managed to read a few books. And by that, I mean that thanks to my hour long commute every day, audio books are keeping me in the pleasure reading business! It's so fun to look forward to my commute, although, also a little bit discouraging that I am restricted to audio books, because not every book is better on audio. Also, I haven't fully explored it yet, but my new library system doesn't seem to have quite as large of an audio book offering as my last library, which is problematic. But I'll figure out how to keep my audio book queue stacked one way or another.

Anyhoo, let's jump in!

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

As much as I love Jane Austen, I've found that most knock-offs are fun but substantially lacking. True for this one. It's a sweet little retelling of Sense and Sensibility, and it was fun to see how Lodge fit the story into a modern context, but beyond that there wasn't much to this one. It was squeaky clean and nice light fluff reading, but not much more. Still recommend if you like a nice light and fluffy romance.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Look, I love Lincoln, and I read a couple of rave reviews about this book, so I was excited to give it a try. And I will say, this was an incredibly creative new way to tell a Lincoln story and explore social issues during the Civil War. I was fascinated by the format, and the way entire chapters were made up of nothing but snippets and quotes from other books, biographies, and historical letters and documents carefully woven together to tell a narrative. I learned a lot. However, I categorically cannot recommend this book. I have a fairly high tolerance for swearing and sexual content, but this book surpassed my tolerance level significantly. Parts were just crass and gross (which I found so weird, considering the major characters are ghosts without bodies). This whole conception of the afterlife was just... depressing. Also, the unique format makes for a TERRIBLE audio book. If you must read it, read it in a print format.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Considering how much I loved A Man Called Ove, I find it a little strange that I'm only just now getting around to reading some of his other books. But part of the delay is that I just didn't see how he could write anything that lived up to Ove. And this book does not live up to Ove. But I still liked it quite a bit. The characters are just as wonderfully fleshed out and complex, and I realized what I love about Backman's style. He has this way of telling a story in a certain way to make you believe certain things about the characters, and then he'll take a step back and reveal the larger context and suddenly everything changes about how you see that character. It's brilliant writing. The critique I'd heard about this one is that the seven-year-old protagonist is just too unrealistic. She's supposed to be smart, but even still, no seven-year-old girl acts/thinks/talks this way. And it's a fair critique. But surprisingly, it didn't bother me too much. I still liked this little girl quite a bit, even if she wasn't a believable character. The story-line itself isn't quite as tight as it should've been, and there's a fantasy story element that kept me disoriented for a bit (it felt so different from Ove), but I still quite enjoyed it, and I'm putting all his other books on hold now.

Slade House by David Mitchell

I just love David Mitchell so much. I meant to read this one when it came out a couple years ago, but never got around to it. So when I found it as a featured audio book on my library's e-catalog page, I pounced on it. But I wish I would've saved it for October! It was such a delightful, creepy story with just the right amount of suspense and horror, it would've made for perfect seasonal reading around Halloween. This is a companion novel (maybe novella? It's short) to Bone Clocks, so you really need to read that one first. But I recommend everything by Mitchell (start with Cloud Atlas, it's by far his best).

What about you? Read any of these books? Any recommendations I should look into?


  1. I haven't read that one by Backman, but I might give it a try now! Have you read his book Beartown? I thought it was INCREDIBLE. Seriously, it's a book I'll be thinking about for a looooong time. It's way different than Ove (much more serious), but I just couldn't put it down---I read the last 250-300 pages in basically one sitting, which doesn't happen often for me. You should check it out!

    1. Well, it took me long enough to reply that I have actually finished Beartown now, and yes, it was incredible (though much more depressing). I still think you might enjoy My Grandmother, but it's not nearly as good as either Ove or Beartown.

  2. I'm currently in the middle of My Grandmother (it's my book club book this month), and I'm about 100 pages in, and it is dragggggging for me. I don't really like or get the fantasy element (surprise surprise). Maybe it will all make sense in the end and I'll love it, but for right now, "disoriented" is the perfect way to describe how I'm feeling. I so wish my book group had chosen Beartown instead.

    1. Yeah, My Grandmother is just not as good as Ove or Beartown, and I definitely know why you're struggling with it. Don't expect to love it, but there's a chance you'll at least like it by the end. It has a lot of redeeming qualities once the weird plot gets sorted out.