Friday, September 6, 2013
The Four Books of August.
I have no explanation for why I read more in August other than I was slightly overwhelmed, too tired to do anything else, too hot and cramming it in before grad school started again. My homework assignments are piling up again, BOTAR rehearsals started last night, and I'm headed to my first football game in Manhattan manana.
Basically, expect less of me from here on out. I'm trying to go to bed earlier.
The New from Spain was recommended by the owner of Rainy Day Books and is a collection of seven short stories. There is a line in each of the stories about the "News from Spain." It's beautiful if you like short stories, but as is typical of short pieces, most of the stories leave you wanting a little bit more. If it were my copy and not the one from the library, I would have marked a few passages because they were so well written. Here's one of my favorite excerpts:
"I am writing about women, about love and humiliation. Men do it to us, but mostly we do it to ourselves. We love the wrong people; we love at the wrong time. We think that we can make it right, reconcile the irreconcilable. We are like game-show contestants who don't know when to stop. We could go home right now with the money and the washing machine, but we want the car so we keep going and we get the answer wrong, or choose the wrong door, or spin the wheel too hard, and then we have to go home with nothing."
Bam. It was a good one. I like when people can really write.
In the Shadow of the Banyan is a tough read also really well written. It takes place in Cambodia during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, and that is a time and place I didn't know much about. So I learned a lot, specifically about the struggle of families. It's heavy, but I read it quickly to find out what happened and also get through the awfulness. Vivian from Rainy Day also recommended this book (and the next) for book clubs.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home was our book club choice for August and provided easily the best conversation we've had about a book in MONTHS. I am a sucker for a teenage protagonist, but all the characters are discussion worthy. The setting is the 1980s and America doesn't "get" AIDS yet, which is a major part of the story line. I talked to my mom about it because it seems so foreign, but she thinks it's accurate. A major part of the story line is that because the protagonist and her sister both have tax accountants as parents they have a lot of crock pot dinners during busy season. So I served pot roast nicely prepared in a crock pot for dinner!
And the Mountains Echoed is the newest book from the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. It's been out for a few months, and while I knew the story was more epic than the other two, I didn't realize it's more of a collection. The characters are interwoven but also not always directly connected. As always with his books, it is easy to be transported to Afghanistan, to love the people and the characters, and to be rightly reminded that we're still involved "over there." Hosseini is a good writer, and I'm glad he's not hurrying through and pushing books out. A Thousand Splendid Suns is still my favorite if you haven't read any of his books.