Books, so many books

I did a lot of reading in Ecuador. The Kindle was a godsend, until tragedy struck. Sadly, we left the charger in Banos, which meant that by the time we got to Cuenca, several days later, the batteries were dead and we were stuck having to buy a few craptastic novels from the English book store. Hence, Iris Johansen.

Anyway, since there are so many, I’ll keep it short.

#20 Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I don’t know what I was thinking in high school. I loved it. However, I do think that seeing the movie helped (both the BBC version and the Keira Knightley version) me to understand the wit in Austen’s writing.
Grade: A

#21 Wishin’ and Hopin’, by Wally Lamb. Unlike every other book by Lamb, this one wasn’t depressing. In the vein of  A Christmas Story, the tale follows young Felix Funicello (3rd cousin to Annette) as he and the rest of his 5th grade class prepare for their Christmas pageant. The story takes place in the 60s and is largely set in Felix’s Catholic School. It was funny and heartwarming.
Grade: A

#22 & 23 A Bone to Pick and Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, by Charlaine Harris. Two more Aurora Teagarden mystery books. Neither were particularly memorable. I really don’t love Aurora’s creepy love interest who rears his head in book 3.  I’m not sure if I’ll keep reading this series, particularly as I like some of her others better.
Grade for both: C

#24 SuperFreakonomics, by Stephen Levitt and Stephan Dubner. The follow-up to (duh) Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics follows the same premise. Pick a few quirky stories and dissect them, from an economics perspective. I thought SuperFreakonomics was a bit too short, but I did like it. The chapters on prostitution and global warming were particularly interesting.
Grade: B+

#25 Grave Surprise, by Charlaine Harris. This book, the second in the Harper Connelly books  (girl struck by lightning who can find corpses and determine cause of death, psychically) was all right. It kept me entertained on the bus and wasn’t totally predictable.
Grade: B

#26 Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver. I LOVE this book. I’ve read it half a dozen times at least and every time, I love it more. I think the reason it touches me is because it’s the story of two sisters who have the sort of relationship that my sister and I have. Luckily for me, Meghan doesn’t want to go off and fight the contras, so we’ll probably have a happier ending. For some reason, reading it this time hit me harder – maybe because I’m older, more ready for children, more aware of all that I have to lose. Read this book.
Grade:  A+

#27 The Opposite of Love, by Julie Buxbaum. This story, which follows Emily, a young lawyer in New York, through a break up, a death, and therapy, was really good. I liked way Buxbaum developed her characters – they felt honest and sympathetic. This book was touching and poignant and I couldn’t put it down. I bought her second book, After You, but didn’t get a chance to start on it because of the power cord incident.
Grade: A

#28 The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs, who has made a writing career out of setting off on ridiculous quests (read the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, follow all the rules of the Bible for one year) and then writing about that, is reliably humorous and self-deprecating in this book. I’d previously read parts of The Year of Living Biblically and enjoyed it. The Know-It-All  came first and I think I liked it better. Jacobs documents his efforts to read the entire EB. The random bits of trivia are fun and I enjoyed that it was more than just a collection of facts. A little too much information on Jacobs and his wife’s trials and tribulations with fertility was the only annoying part.
Grade: B+

#29 Straight Talking, by Jane Green. Green, one of the pioneers of chick-lit, is always a good read. I’ve read Straight Talking before, but it was some time ago, so I didn’t remember all the ins and outs. This was one of the two books I bought following the Kindle disaster. Basically, it follows Tash, who has a completely f-ed up love life as she negotiates dating and figures herself out. Her 3 friends appear as supporting actors, but are never as well-developed as Tash. The book is silly and predictable, but in a good way. I’d recommend reading Jemima J or The Other Woman over Straight Talking, but was a good read.

#30 Deadlock, by Iris Johanson. This book was AWFUL. Probably not the worst book I’ve ever started, but quite arguably, one of the worst books that I’ve ever finished. Purchased in Cuenca for $10!!, it wasn’t worth $.10. The story is ridiculous. It follows an archeologist out for revenge and some murder-for-hire bloke who is willing to help her out. The dialogue is horrific, the plot thin, the twist totally stupid, and the ending unbelievable. Only to be read under duress.
Grade: D

#31 The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. This is a beautiful, beautiful book. I can hardly believe it’s been out 10 years already, but I remember reading it 10 years ago and loving it then. I love it just as much now. I’ve probably read it every year since I was 18, and, like Animal Dreams or The Poisonwood Bible, it’s a book that grows with you. The story of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, is lovely, but my favorite part of the book is the beginning, when Dinah tells the stories of her mothers, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah. You forget that the book was written by Diamant and feel like it’s actually Dinah, speaking across a thousand generations directly to you.
Grade: A+

So, 11 books in 16 days. Not bad, my friends, not bad.

As for the count in general, I’ve read 31 books in 74 days, which means I’m holding steady towards the goal.


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