Books

Book 502: Jane Austen, the Secret Radical – Helena Kelly

Perhaps I’m too smart for my own good, but overall this book was a bit disappointing. With a title like Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, you’d expect there to be revelations of sorts and yet there weren’t. I mean that’s why I requested a copy from the publisher.* I was hoping as the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death rapidly approaches there’d be something completely new and innovative to talk about, but there wasn’t.

Sure Kelly highlighted a few things that I missed when reading Austen, but really she just expounded upon the things that those of us who don’t read Austen ONLY as a romance novelist, but as a social commentator hopefully picked up on. She provided more detail of course, especially when it came to names and places, but overall there just weren’t a lot of revelations.

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Books

Book 412: Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Are You My MotherAfter re-reading Fun Home for book group I dove right into the follow-up Are You My Mother? As much as I enjoyed it and ultimately identified with it, it didn’t live up to the magical experience of Fun Home. It’s hard to say whether this lack of magic was a result of the intense navel gazing or the less compelling surface emotional story. To be honest it could be the daughter identifying with mother as this is an experience/story that I will never experience in the same way.

This being said, the story was still eloquently and humorously told! The graphics were just as poignant and detailed as those in the original. I enjoyed the complete color shift from the green-gray to the red, especially when Bechdel revisited scenes from her earlier work and the emphasis changed slightly. The book list in Are You My Mother? wasn’t quite as long as Fun Home but it was still pretty impressive at 38 separate works listed.

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Books

Book 411: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Fun HomeI first read Fun Home in undergrad after my friend Mia gave me a copy not long after it came out in paperback. (I’m pretty sure it was paperback and I’m pretty sure it was Mia. I wasn’t so great at tracking who, when or where books came from back then…oh the olden days :-D)

Either way, I remember thoroughly loving it that first time I read it. I even went out of my way to read Camus’ A Happy Death after I finished even though I have very little recollection of it now other than these quotes I saved on a proto-blog I had that I’m pretty sure it was called East Coast Traditional Meets West Coast Casual or something like that (I stole it from a furniture magazine.)

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

Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe- Dr. Mutter's Marvels[To hear the episode of Come Read With Me where my friend Jess and I discuss this, click here.]

I’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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