After a disastrous July (I didn’t finish any books), I was very much back on track in August. I’ll also now be starting into the books my AP class will read. That’s always fun from the re-reading angle. Anyhow, here you go. Enjoy.
1. War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy (4/5) – For a variety of reasons, this book took me more than a month to read. One of those is that it is the longest book I have ever read by a lot. It’s not a quick read either. It makes The Lord of the Rings seem breezy at times. But, shit, I am glad I read it. The primary criticism of War & Peace is that Tolstoy spends too much time trying to forward his agenda with long monologues that have nothing to do with the story. This is true. Those same critics also all acknowledge that, once you get past that, the book is amazing. And it is. I will, at some point, probably read it again and skip the parts that don’t really matter. And then I will be reading a true masterpiece.
2. Dear Professor Einstein by Alice Calaprice (ed.) (2/5) – I checked this out of the library because it was such a neat premise. A book of letters that passed between Albert Einstein and children. I mean, that sounds really neat, right? Well, it’s a pretty short book (220 pgs.), and the letters don’t even start until page 111. Once they do start, it seems like about half of them are kids asking for his autograph. I can only suspect that the editor of this book found one of the few good letters, sold the book idea on the strength of it, and then found she had a lot of padding out to do. The biographical stuff included is fairly interesting, but that’s the best I can say for it.
3. The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick (5/5) – One of Cate’s books for me this year. It is very short, unbelievably sad, and entirely wonderful. The care in the language is stunning. There’s not a word out of place anywhere. I often find even the best short books to be missing something essential, but I can’t say that here. It has everything it needs.
4. Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare(4/5) – As I’ve been reading my way through Shakespeare, a lot of the comedies have blurred together for me. This one stood out a bit, which was nice. It was silly and the humor held up pretty well across time.
5. Moneyball by Michael Lewis (4/5) – Yes, it’s true, I’d never read Moneyball. I’ve had it almost since it came out, but I never read it. Then I got an article assigned to me that finally forced my hand. It was a good, but like so many books of its kind, it feels a touch padded out.
6. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (4.5/5) – I’d been waiting for this from the library for ages. I quite enjoyed it, though I didn’t like it as much as her last book. She’s an excellent hand at magical realism. She also manages to pack in discussion of a lot of big issues without making it seem forced.
7. Henry V by William Shakespeare (4/5) – This is effectively that last of Shakespeare’s history plays. It was good, but the weird random comic bits didn’t exactly add anything. I’m glad to be moving past the histories and comedies now. From here on out, it’s mostly tragedies and romances. Speaking of which…
8. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (5/5) – This is the Shakespeare I’ve taught the most, and I love it. The speeches in act III are beyond compare. “Friends, Romans, countrymen…” “Say not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more…” “Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war…” Yeah, though are pretty good. This is among Shakespeare’s most morally complex plays. Everything about it it s a joy to read.