Some of My Favorite Books

Monday, March 29, 2010

So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwarz

I loved Christina Schwarz's book All is Vanity about a writer who struggles with writer's block and on a larger scale about telling stories and whose story is it to tell. I even liked her first novel, Drowning Ruth, maybe not as much as the critics and Oprah, but I just didn't feel it for So Long at the Fair. Maybe it was because two stories were being told 40+ years apart. Maybe because some of the characters didn't get introduced and developed soon enough for me. I don't know. It was good but not my favorite book of hers.

What author do you love? What book of theirs is your favorite?

Book ReadSo Long at the Fair
Author: Christina Schwarz
ISBN: 978-0-385-51029-5

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Change in Altitude

I finished reading Anita Shreve's latest book, A Change in Altitude, the other night. As usual, she delivered. Even though, or maybe, because of, her slightly dark writing style, the story sort of creeps into your being and stays with you. The characters are believable, the writing gorgeous, and in the book, the setting, Africa, stark, at least to me. I'm not usually a huge fan of foreign destinations in books, especially ones that seem so remote and out of touch to anything I can relate to, but Shreve makes the characters' lives seem real and something to care about.

In A Change of Altitude, when the group climbs Mount Kenya, I could almost feel the agony, from the shear physical difficulty to the altitude sickness, to the wanting to get down and be done with it, not that I've ever climbed a mountain like that or anything.

Need to take a trip and never leave the farm? Take a little virtual trip to Africa and read A Change in Altitude.

Book ReadA Change in Altitude
Author:  Anita Shreve
ISBN: 978-0-316-02070-1

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Cheater, a Stinker

Book ReadThe Cheater:  Do You Know Where Your Husband Is?
Author:  Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
ISBN: 978-0-7653-1902-9

Okay, I like to read new authors from time to time to see if I find a winner, and if I do find one, I read all of their books. So I picked up The Cheater, subtitled Do You Know Where Your Husband Is?, by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg at the library. It was on the New Books shelf and if nothing else, I know for sure I haven't read a book if it's sitting there. I've been known to buy books or check out books that really look interesting. No wonder. They look like something I'd really like, and sometimes that's because I've already read them!

No chance of that happening again with this book or this author. I thought the writing was stilted, formal, and a tad on the preachy side, informing her darling audience about eating regularly so the body doesn't store fat cells, for example. If I wanted to read a diet book, I'd read a diet book.

That type of writing is not an enjoyable read to me, when the writing makes you stop and say to yourself, "Hmmm, I'm reading a book... that someone wrote... and not very well at that." Good writing should move the story along and not be obvious. Anyway, I guess that's what I think good writing should be. It's like watching an actor who's obviously acting. Yuck, flip the channel already.

I'd say read this book if you like a good thriller because the components were there even though they were so far-fetched I nearly stopped reading it a couple of times. It was original, I'll give it that but totally unbelievable.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal] is Scandalous

Book ReadWhat Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal]
Author:  Zoe Heller 
ISBN:  0-8050-7333-7

I'd seen the movie Notes on a Scandal starring Judi Dench as Barbara, the dreary, sad history teacher, and Cate Blanchett as Sheba, the younger, pretty art teacher, but the book, of course, delved deeper into the diary Barbara kept and the pathetic little life she led. If ever the phrase "get a life" was appropriate, this is it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Celebrate National Grammar Day and March Forth

In case you haven't heard, today, March 4th, is National Grammar Day and to celebrate, Grammar Girl has written (and performed) a song, March Forth:  The Grammar Song.

Take a few minutes today to diagram a sentence or if that's not your thing, skim a funny book about grammar gone wrong. I suggest one like Cake Wrecks by Jen Yates. This fun "picture" book has tons of photos of cakes that were disasters in one way or another, like...

I guess Hannah is the favored child in this bunch; I mean large font... good grief.

And the labor pains aren't the only problem contractions in this hot mess.

And lastly, this person really didn't want a fuss. "Really, I don't want any thing on my cake. Nothing."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Elinor Lipman, You Need to Write Another Book or Two

Book Read:  Isabel's Bed
Author:  Elinor Lipman
ISBN: 0-671-01564-8

I had saved Isabel's Bed to read, and now that I have finished it, I've read all of Elinor Lipman's books. So... you know what that means. She needs to write more! I always enjoy her books and this one was no exception.

Lipman writes tight novels that are full of colorful characters, several of whom per book, I'd like to be friends with. Of course, I'd rather befriend Harriet than Isabel in this one because drama ain't my bag in real life, but it's sure fun to read.


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