I have decided to add a regular feature to this blog. At the end of every month, I will list the books I read, how I rated them, and give a few thoughts. At the end, I’ll update my book queue. Now, without further ado:
1. Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem (3.5 out of 5): Easily the weakest Lethem I’ve read. Good and strange enough to keep you reading, but a little too trippy for my taste. I would have liked to see things congeal a bit more, especially at the end. Still, it was plenty entertaining.
2. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson (3.5/5): Bill Bryson in a car, in the mid-eighties driving around the US. The eastern portion of the book is very entertaining, but it falls off considerably when he heads ouot west and runs out of things to say.
3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (4.5/5): The book follows the protagonist from the age of about three until his early twenties or so. Joyce continues to alter the perspective as the main character ages. So, when he is three, it is written from a three-year-old’s perspective and so forth. A really wonderful read with about thirty or forty pages of unbearable pretentiousness wedged near then end (an integral and inevitable phase for a developing artist, perhaps, but not entertaining reading). It recovers nicely at the end. I loved this book. I wish I hadn’t put off reading it for so long.
4. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (5/5): More the story of an area of land than any of its characters, this traces three narrative that only lightly overlap but are tied strongly together by the area where the characters all live. Wonderful messages about minding the earth are woven in without becoming preachy. I absolutely loved this book, which is her most recent novel, and I wonder when she will publish another as it has now been more than eight years.
5. 33 1/3 Pet Sounds by Jim Fusilli (3.5/5): Good. Entertaining, but too much like a history of Brian Wilson when it should really be a dissection of the album.
6. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (5/5): What am I supposed to say about this? Despite science’s reputation for being cold an detached, I am continually charmed by how much its best and brightest minds find beauty and betray enormous enthusiasm in the work they do. Darwin is no exception.
7. Rose by Li-Young Lee (5/5): I am trying to read one book of poetry a month this year. It really helps to have Cate to guide me a bit. This is a lovely book, and I really enjoyed it. I am still learning to talk about poetry, so I don’t have much to say that I can really articulate. Wonderful, vivid poems, though.
8. Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul by Kenneth R. Miller (5/5): I just posted a long blog post about this book. All I’ll say here is that it was fantastic.
Book Queue Update:
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The World According to Garp by John Irving
Drown by Junot Diaz
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (Reading Now)
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
Gun with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren