April Book Log

May 16, 2018

This is tardy. It’s been a busy time. Okay, quickly now.

  1. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (4/5) – I read a Ferrante book that wasn’t part of the tetralogy several years ago and liked it a lot. I like this almost as much and I’m excited to read through the next three. I didn’t think this one, in particular, was quite as brilliant as everyone else seems to have, but what do I know?
  2. Banthology: Stories from Banned Nations (4/5) – This, as you can tell from the subtitle, is an anthology of stories from all the nations that were/are part of Trump’s travel ban. Of course, the saddest thing about collections like this is that, generally, the people who most need to read it never will. Good stories, nevertheless, that provide windows into places we in America don’t see often enough.
  3. McSweeney’s 51 (4/5) – I don’t know why this was the month for four-star books, but it was. This was the first “regular” issue of McSweeney’s in ages. The quality of the writing is generally very good, though as is typically the case with journals, I found there to be a few duds. Mostly, I’m glad that they’re finally steaming along again because, more than any other important magazine, they try to be interesting and give us writing that isn’t the same old MFA claptrap.
  4. The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks (4/5) – This book was really fun and interesting and you should read it. I learned interesting things about the mind and it’s going to send me down a path of more reading, which I always enjoy. The only reason it isn’t a 5 is that it wasn’t quite as unified as I wanted it to be, reading more like collected essays than an actual book.

September Book Log

October 3, 2015

September was better than August. Not normal. Not quite. But an improvement over last month certainly. Some very good books this month, too. Okay, here we are:

  1. Britain after Rome by Robyn Fleming (4/5) – This was read for a bit of research on a novel I’m writing. Fleming does an excellent job telling a story when, frankly, there isn’t a lot of raw material for her to use. Britain after Rome was a strange place and there aren’t a lot of records. Still, she’s an enjoyable writer to read and this was some of the easiest research I’ve done.
  2. Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill (4/5) – Read as part of Cate’s list for me this year. Many of the stories were brilliant, and I highly recommend the collection. You just have to overlook the one or two stories that feel a touch repetitive. Still, a wonderful job looking at the lives of women who don’t fit into the box of what a woman is supposed to be.
  3. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (5/5) – The first AP book of the year. I hadn’t read it in probably five years, and I’d forgotten exactly how good it was. The class reaction was generally positive. Achebe does a wonderful job of making a flawed, unlikable character sympathetic.
  4. The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (5/5) – I thought this was completely brilliant. Like if Nabokov had written about gender identity. The internet (and my friends) is pretty divided. Some like it, some hate it. But really, I can’t imagine someone doing a better job with a book like this. I need to read all her stuff now.
  5. The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante (5/5) – Ferrante was someone I’d been meaning to explore for a while and I finally got to her. This book is very, very dark. It is like living in someone’s mind during an emotional breakdown. Great. But not an emotionally easy read by any stretch.
  6. Autumn: A Folio Anthology (3/5) – This came with an order of books I placed. It was enjoyable enough. Seasonally appropriate, and relatively throw away.
  7. Poetry, September 2015 (5/5) – Cate told me to read this because I like Irish writers and it featured young Irish poets. It was a good recommendation. This is great. I have a list of 10 or 15 writers I need to explore now (if I can only find there books).