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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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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Books

Book 333: The Bitterweed Path – Thomas Hal Phillips

Phillips, Thomas Hal - The Bitterweed PathThis response is a bit scattered. It’s as close to stream-of-consciousness as I will ever get so enjoy it.

I jumped this book up my list because someone was getting antsy. For some reason, he didn’t think I wanted to read anything he suggested, or that I didn’t like his last recommendation, Last Summer, so I’ve made a deal with him that I’ll read a book at least every other month from him (talk about dictating!). Thankfully I’ve really enjoyed both books he’s recommended so far. His next recommendation is Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour and these recommendations don’t even include the ones of his that I WANT to read!

I was a little torn on John Howard’s introduction as it felt a bit misleading, but it did provide an excellent history of Phillips life and the setting of the novel. Howard wrote about his own experience as an LGBT academic and activist, and the self-serving nature of getting this book re-published for its early LGBT themes. He mentioned Phillips lack of acknowledgement about his own sexuality, which was interesting, and noted that none of his other books did as well as The Bitterweed Path and didn’t contain LGBT themes.

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Books

Book 229: When the Emperor was Divine – Julie Otsuka

Otsuka, Julie - When the Emperor was DivineWhen the Emperor was Divine was the required reading for the college where I work and although I do think it was a good choice, I feel that there are other novels out there which tell this story better. (Such as Snow Falling on Cedars, and this story wasn’t even the main storyline in that book.)

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this book and I did not get along. It wasn’t bad, per say, but it definitely wasn’t good. It was a very short read and I read it in three sittings on the train to and from work, but there was just something about it that I didn’t enjoy.

I’m starting to think that it might be related to the fact that it was chosen as the required reading and I felt that it wasn’t very challenging. I do believe it highlight’s a portion of World War II which many people aren’t aware of, or never learned about, but the writing style and the novel were very basic. Given I didn’t attend the speaker series, this could be a total misinterpretation of the novel, but I feel that a required reading for college students should be more challenging. However, that being said there were parts of the novel that were really well done, so don’t think it was a completely horrible work.

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Book Group, Books

Book 100: Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson

If I had a ranking system for the novels I read and it was based on beauty, Snow Falling on Cedars would definitely be towards the top of that list. It has to take an amazing writer/wordsmith to make me want to live on a small island off the coast of Washington State and take up farming of some sort. I read this book for my Books into Movies book group at the local library and I am VERY glad I did. I plan on watching the movie later this evening or tomorrow.

Snow Falling on Cedars focuses on a murder trial, but it is not just a legal story, or a love story, or even just a war story as you might think from the back cover. It is a novel about a town forced to look into the mirror and see the harsh truths and realities simmering just under the surface. Set almost ten years after the end of World War II, the novel was a lot broader and a lot more powerful (and suspenseful) than the back-cover synopsis led me to think. But, more than anything, what took my breath away was the vitriol of some of the (surprisingly mostly female) characters and their overt racism. I was surprised at how upset I was at various points throughout the novel when placed into a character’s shoes and how they were treated.

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