Book 399: People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks

Brooks, Geraldine - People of the BookI’m finally starting to make a “dent” in my to-be-read shelves! YAY! On the downside, due to work events and the seasonal time change affecting me more than usual this book took two weeks to read, which is sad because it was so beautifully written.

I’m going to start by saying take my review with a grain of salt because this is a book about books and writing and conservation so of course I loved it. It also coincided with our visit to the 39th Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (a blog post about it on The New Antiquarian as the BIABF’s website appears to be down), which was great because we saw many religious texts which reminded me that I needed to finish reading this wonderful book! I’ll talk more about the fair later in a special Culture Corner post, hopefully, or at the very least in my November recap in early December.

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Book 391: Dr. Mütter’s Marvels – Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe- Dr. Mutter's MarvelsI’m a little torn on this book. At the same time that it reminded me of some fascinating books I’ve read over the past few years (Geraldine Brook’s March and William MacAskill’s Doing Good Better) I couldn’t help but compare it to Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And unfortunately for Aptowicz, it wasn’t that great of a comparison. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very interesting read and I enjoyed the book. I’m sure this book had its own set of challenges in the research done, but I still can’t quite put my finger on why I wasn’t as much a fan of this.

At first I thought it was because Aptowicz was super young and this was her first book. Her writing style felt a bit like student-work, which she admits is when she got the idea and started writing originally, but I found out pretty quick I was wrong on this one. And it’s not her first book, but it is her first work of nonfiction. (Thanks Wikipedia.) Either way, I’m grateful to Avery, a Penguin Books imprint, for providing a copy.* And the best part is, if you’re interested in the book it’s just been released in paperback at the beginning of September! (AKA Yay for more affordability!; Publisher’s website.)

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Book 369: Symposium – Plato

Plato - SymposiumI understand how important this work is, you know, history and stuff (hello sarcasm), but there is no need for the introduction to be roughly half the length of the entire work! Seriously, by time I actually got to the work which I would say is about 60 pages long, I’d read 30 pages and knew almost the entire story! Whoever wrote the introduction quoted almost all of it.

Mostly this book brings back the time in my first year of undergrad where I thought I wanted to study Ancient-Medieval history and then I scrapped by with my worst grade ever in my Greek history class and spent the next three-and-a-half years trying to make up for it and improve my GPA. On the plus side, this book counts towards my Classics Club reading list and I’m slowly chipping away. Finishing this, I’ve now passed the 40 books mark (41/100) and I’m nearing the halfway point. I’m behind schedule, but I threw the schedule out the window ages ago.

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Book 363: Her Best-Kept Secret – Gabrielle Glaser

Glaser, Gabrielle - Her Best Kept SecretMany of you might not know this about me, but when I have a problem that I don’t know how to deal with my first response is to research it as in-depth as possible. That makes it a bit awkward when I blog about everything I read (this is my journal reading journal as much as it is your review site). At the same time it’s great because I get to share interesting books, like Her Best-Kept Secret (Amazon Affiliate link), that I never would have read. And I force myself to explore and synthesize in-depth a lot of topics.

If you see me on a day-to-day basis you’re aware that someone close to me has a lot of problems with alcohol, it’s kind of obvious they are a “she” based on the book title. In reality, I’m not sure it would’ve mattered if they were a she, because after reading The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous (link to the article) in The Atlantic I knew I wanted to find out more about non Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programs and I figured Glaser was a great place to start as she mentioned her book in the article.

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Book 347: Jane Austen Cover to Cover – Margaret C. Sullivan

Sullivan, Margaret C. - Jane Austen Cover to CoverThe amazing and wonderful Sarah of Sarah Reads Too Much sent this book to me knowing how much I love Jane Austen and I’m so glad she did! You can check out her review of the book here.

Please, don’t misjudge my response, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the book. I just have strong opinions on Austen and I definitely went off on a tangent. I mean Sullivan clearly loves Austen AND she convinced me to give the graphic novel adaptations a go, that’s something right!?

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Book 344: The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches #1) – Anne Rice

Rice, Anne (Lives of the Mayfair Witches #1) - The Witching Hour23 days! 23 DAYS! That is how long it took me to read this book and it really shouldn’t have.

Sure it was over 1,000 pages and it took almost 200 pages to hit the “OMG I have to finish reading this” point, but it definitely shouldn’t have taken this long. It was very well written and the story was fascinating. Unfortunately, due to work and trying to edit my podcast it just took me forever.

You might be wondering why I didn’t just give up? Well, that’s complicated you see. A certain someone, who recommended Last Summer and The Bitterweed Path, also recommended this and I promised I would read at least one book every other month that he recommended. And like I said above, it wasn’t a bad book, it probably just wasn’t the best time for me to read this particular book. I’m definitely glad I read it and will read the sequels to complete the series and find out WTF happened!

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Book 343: Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks

Brooks, Geraldine - Year of WondersI picked this novel up back in November 2012, and as is usually the case, I’m sad I didn’t read it sooner. I enjoyed Brooks’ March, but apparently not enough to buy and read the rest of her works immediately. Check out the synopsis here (Amazon link).

Zombies may be all the rage these days, but plague has been around and written about for so much longer. Zombies, according to Wikipedia at least, didn’t appear in popular culture until the 1800s, whereas plague has been a stark reality off-and-on since the 1300s.

Now imagine three hundred years after the Black Death ravaged Europe, you live in a small village with fewer than 500 people in central England. In less than a year more than 2/3 of the people were dead and you were one of the survivors to witness this and all of it is because of the plague. What would you do? How would you respond? Well this is that villages tale and the flashback to what happened in this “plague village,” and it is not the only one.

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