December Book Log

December 31, 2010

Last book log of the year. I did manage to hit my goal (exactly) as I finished my 60th book a few days ago. I think I’m going to hold at 60 for next year, but really try to read some big books I’ve been putting off for a while.

Anyhoo, this was a nice rebound month. I’d been on a dry run for bit, but there were some books I really liked this month. I also managed to finish my queue for the first time in a while (or at least, I’ll have finished once I’m done with Tess of the D’Urbervilles).

1. For Kings and Planets by Ethan Canin (3.5/5) – I loved America, America and I’d been really eager to read something else of his. I thought the first half of this book was terrible. So much so that I almost put it down. I’m glad I didn’t, though, because the second half was wonderful. This was one of the oddest reading experiences I’ve had.

2. The Sky is Not the Limit by Neil deGrasse Tyson (3.5/5) – This was a mixed bag. The more autobiographical, the more interesting I found it. However, about 1/3 of the book is devoted to explanations of various scientific topics he finds interesting. I also find these things interesting, but then, I’d already read about them and couldn’t see why they belonged in a memoir. Overall, I enjoyed it, but he clearly hadn’t reached maturity as a writer.

3. Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood (4/5) – I love how reliable Atwood is. I’ve never hated one of her books. This wasn’t my favorite of hers, but it was still very good and I enjoyed seeing her writing style applied to a more conventional narrative as previously I had read only her more fantastical works.

4. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (5/5) – This was a Cate suggestion, and I was very pleased with it. A wonderfully compelling bit of magical realism. I couldn’t find anything wrong with this. Cate mentioned that she thought there was a place in the middle where it dragged just a bit, but I didn’t find that at all. Good characters, good pacing, really fascinating story.

5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (4.5/5) – I really took a while to get into this book, but eventually, I found myself rapt. I still don’t think this is as good as Home mostly because I don’t feel we see the characters as well here as we do there. That said, it is quite a book and I totally understand why it received so much praise. I always enjoy reading things where I feel like the author has done exhaustive research in the name of authenticity.

A note on the queue: You’ll notice the new book queue has a lot of big books on it. I’ll be supplementing with smaller volumes here and there, but I want to get to some of these things. For example, I haven’t read Great Expectations in a long time, and I really love it, so a reread is overdue.

Winter/Spring Book Queue:

Snow by Orhan Pamuk
The Chateau by William Maxwell
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
A Gesture Life by Chang Rae Lee
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Zoli by Colum McCann
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien
Daugther of Fortune by Isabelle Allende
Libra by Don DeLillo

3 Responses to “December Book Log”

  1. Matt said

    I tried reading For Kings and Planets a few years ago. Unlike you, I put it down halfway through. Maybe I’ll pick it up again. But I’m holding you responsible.

    May I say: I loved Libra and Bel Canto.

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