ARC, Books

Book 508: Chemistry – Weike Wang

I first heard of this book through a friend, who also happens to be friends with the author. After reading the blurb I reached out to the publisher for a copy and here I am.* It of course didn’t hurt that the book was set here in Boston at an unnamed University and I’ve started to see it everywhere around the city either!

Chemistry is the tale of an unnamed narrator and her exit from the academic world that has ruled her life and her various reactions to things going on in her world. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s what I boiled it down to. I’m still mulling over many parts of the book, particularly the “conclusion,” but in general I found this to be a wonderfully engaging read.

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Books

Book 497: Ordinary Goodness – Edward Viljoen

Now that I’m starting to settle into my new job (and have two weeks of vacation – when this posts I’ll be somewhere between Seattle and Alaska), I’m starting to catch up on galleys/ARCs that I received at the end of 2016.*

This is one of those books that goes in the pile of I would probably never pick up on my own, but since the publisher sent it and it was vaguely interesting to me I read it. I found the concept interesting and the idea of goodness outside of institutionalized religion is something I “believe in,” so I figured why not.

The book itself was easy to read and I enjoyed Viljoen’s writing style and the bits of himself he let seep into the book, but overall this was just a meh book for me. I’ve definitely read books that were much more focused than this one and maybe that’s what it was for me, what felt like a lack of focus.

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Books

Book 454: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) – Deborah Harkness

Harkness, Deborah - The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)Where do I begin with this?

It’s very rare that a series starts off and continues to pick up steam the entire way through. In my previous experience, there is usually a middle-book slump. In the case of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy the middle book of the trilogy, Shadow of NIght, was the stand out, followed closely by The Book of Life and in a distant third, the trilogy opener A Discovery of Witches.

This could be because the entire series takes place over about a year (give or take a few months because of time travel), but more than likely I think it has to do with the amount of action continuously increasing as the series moved forward. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing as I’ll talk about below, but that’s my conjecture. Continue reading “Book 454: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) – Deborah Harkness”

Book Group, Books

Book 450: Sisters In Law – Linda Hirshman

Hirshman, Linda - Sisters In LawFour the fourth installment of our nonfiction book group, we’re learning about the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. I thought I knew a lot about the “Notorious RBG,” but I knew nothing; and then add in what I learned about the FWOTSC (First Woman on the Supreme Court) and I’d say this was a pretty good addition to our year of biographies and autobiographies.

As interesting as the book was, I felt like there was so much from both their histories and from their time on the court that was left out of the book. Hirshman seemed to rush the first half of O’Connor’s time on the court and the last part of Ginsburg’s continued time on the court. It was disappointing because there are clearly so many additional amazing cases they had to decide that weren’t as glamorous as LGBT rights, women’s rights or racial equality.

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Book Group, Books

Book 439: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller

Fuller, Alexandra - Don't Let's Go to the Dogs TonightI would never have selected this book to read for a few reasons: it’s nonfiction; it’s a memoir/autobiography; it’s set on the African continent; and it’s not by someone I know anything about. Now I have nothing against any of these things, they’re just not on my usual list of go-to’s for books to read and that’s why I’m glad book group chose auto/biographies and memoirs this year. We’ve already done Fun Home and Girl In A Band, and there are a few interesting ones left on the list, so we’ll see what’s next.

That being said, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It did take a little longer to read than expected, but adjusting to a new job while trying to read a piece of nonfiction wasn’t exactly the brightest idea, but that’s book group for you. I think it also didn’t help that Fuller’s story telling style would I think be better in person or as a spoken story rather than a written narrative.

It was hard to know what I was expecting from this book. Going in I didn’t know if it would be about the revolutions/civil wars that took place or if it was going to be about post-colonialism. I also had no idea where in the hierarchy of white settlers Fuller’s story would fall. Thankfully, it sort of talks about all of this but through the eyes of a child. Continue reading “Book 439: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller”

Books

Book 400: The Dante Club – Matthew Pearl

Pearl, Matthew - The Dante ClubAnd another TBR bites the dust! This book has been hanging out on my bookshelves since December of 2012 when I picked it up at one of my favorite used bookstores, Edward McKay, back in NC. More importantly, it is the 26th book from my TBR shelves this year. How awesome is that? That’s more than 1/3 of all the books I’ve read this year and I am incredibly happy and proud of that number.

I don’t know why I put off reading The Dante Club for so long. Maybe it was in some sort of effort to actually read all of Dante’s Divine Comedy before I read it, but that obviously hasn’t happened. The other thing that has left me wondering since I finished it , and honestly since I started it, is I can’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I feel I should have.

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Books, The Classics Club

Book 395: Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller

Miller, Henry - Tropic of CapricornI didn’t think it was possible, but I liked this one even less than Tropic of Cancer. Seriously, I was in no way a fan of this book. The amount of raunchy sleazy descriptions in Tropic of Capricorn, if possible out weight those in the first novel.

The only thing I can truly say I’m grateful for is that I got it off my shelf where it’s languished since the 2010 Boston Book Festival (it was the last one!). It also counts toward my Classics Club list so yay for that too!

I can’t even pretend it’s hard to say why I didn’t like this book, it really was just too much sex, misogyny, sexual assault and crass language. When you add in the stream-of-consciousness I’m surprised I even got through the book. It’s no wonder the book was banned in America (Wikipedia link) for 30 years. I don’t believe in book banning or censorship, but this really tested my limits.

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