Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Various and Sundries

Windows in Paris
photo by Amy Brandon

I've read three books and made headway in three others since I last blogged.  I don't find that I am able or willing to write an entire post about every book I read.  Number one, this would take away too much reading time, and number two, not every book deserves a post.  I read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley because I liked the title and because I'd seen other bloggers reading it last year.  Almost the entire time I was reading it, I was trying to figure out when the story was actually going to begin, even at the end.  Not one of my favorites.  I followed that up with The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin, which I so thoroughly enjoyed that I ordered the sequel from Amazon as soon as I read the last (infuriating!) paragraph.  During the weekend that I was reading The Winter Queen, I watched North Carolina Bookwatch with DG Martin and caught his interview with Sheila Turnage, so I ordered her new book, Three Times Lucky.  It's marketed for kids, and it's definitely an easy read, but it's worth any adult's time who needs an afternoon's entertainment.

For the last several months, I've been picking up and putting down and plowing my way slowly through Les Miserable.  I first started the book on Kindle because of its physical size and the difficulty of holding up the novel, but I found that I had trouble getting swept up in the digital form, so I ordered the beautiful Penguin cloth-covered hardback classic and am now reading it.  Since I've switched, I've discovered that part of the problem with the Kindle version I had was the clunky, unappealing translation.  The Penguin, while causing carpal tunnel, is much more appealing all the way around.  The shocking news is that I am a 45 year old literature major who loves musicals, and I DO NOT know the plot of Les Mis at all!  I know, I know... where have I been?  It's fun to read it for the first time at this age, though.

I am also reading Natasha's Dance:  A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes, in preparation for some more Russian reading, which I am loving, and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, to which I am having a mixed reaction.  Franzen can definitely write, and Freedom grabs you on page one and doesn't want to let go, but I get overwhelmed and impatient with whiny, self-absorbed navel-gazers in my every day life, so I have to take this one, which seems full of these people,  in small doses.  It feels a lot like reading the thoughts of too many people I know and don't like.  Franzen does have that uncanny ability of good novelists to suck you into his time and culture, which unfortunately is also my time and culture.   As I said, his writing is really the star of this one.

So, with all that covered, back to Les Mis and the Battle of Waterloo.  Reading time, finally. Yay!


thecuecard said...

That's a lot of books at once. I can only keep one straight at a time. Good luck with Les Miz and Franzen, what a combo! I know what you mean about not writing a review for every book ... some books you just dont feel like it.

Barbara said...

I think I am giving myself permission to also not write about every book. I got way behind and have a number of half reviews in the computer that I may or may not go back to. Les Miz was a joke for me in high school because we spent half a year in French class reading parts of it -- and we were the miserable ones, but later I did see the musical and was swept up by the story. Freedom was one of those books I was glad to have read, but was not happy to read. I wanted to understand the buzz -- and I concede he is a very good writer . Franzen however must be a miserable person. I am not sure why I think that, but do.

Amy said...

@thecuecard: I don't know exactly why I'm reading so many books at once. Usually I'm a one at a time girl. The books are so different that I'm not having trouble keeping them straight though.

@Barbara: I think if you try to make yourself blog about every book, your blog becomes a chore instead of a pleasure. I can't imagine reading Les Mis in French! I think I'd like to try portions of it in French though. I like the way you described Freedom: "glad to have read, but was not happy to read." Perfect!

Anonymous said...

Great post!! I'm an e-reader, so I find it is difficult for me to get into a book that isn't available on my reader. I have been tempted to read the book, "Les Miserable", but haven't been able to jump in with both feet yet. I completely agree with you that there are books that don't merit a review,but I do hope you at least post a blurb or two to know what you thought :D I love sequels and admire you for reading the "last" book, only to start from the beginning!! I've read great reviews on the series and look forward to reading them myself, as they are on my TBR list :D

Amy said...

@Books in the Burbs: I think you are right that we bloggers should also share if we don't like a book and why. It's easy just to rave about what we love and ignore the rest!

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