Sunday, February 06, 2011

Book Bound

Winter is a great time for reading and I've been doing my share.  So here's what I've read so far in 2011:

The first book finished in 2011 was The Glass Room by Simon Mawer.  This also happened to be the first selection for the year for our book group.  The link is a Library Thing link and my review is there. 

Second book into the year was Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh.  It's the March selection for our book group so I was reading ahead a bit.  It's an interesting approach to a novel.  There are in fact three Mrs. Kimbles in the book and the story unfolds around their relationship to the same (despicable) man.

Next was Great House by Nicole Krauss.  There is some beautiful prose writing in this book.  However I found it difficult to like any of the characters who are bound together by their relationship to a huge, dark, fantastic desk.  I'm not sure I got the point the author intended.  Judging by the other LT reviews, I'm not alone in that.

Lately I've been fortunate in winning Early Reviewers selections from Library Thing.  Little Princes by Conor Grennan was one of those selections.  I requested this book because of a concern for the problem of human trafficking and the various guises in which this abomination takes place.  Little Princes is reminiscent of Three Cups of Tea but perhaps not quite as well written.  Nevertheless it's nonfiction and a good read.

In a strange twist, the next book on my list explored a different dimension of human trafficking.  Room by Emma Donaghue is narrated in the voice of 5 year old Jack whose only experience of the world is an 11' x 11' room where he was born to his mother who was abducted by her captor at age 19.  The book is well done as a work of fiction and provokes some thought about an unpleasant topic.

This past Friday was February book group and selection was Mudbound by Hilary Jordan.  This is a story about the deep south (Mississippi) after WWII.  The story is narrated in six different voices from their differing viewpoints.  The primary issue of the story is racial discrimination, however there are aspects of gender discrimination as well.  This is another book about social injustice and our potential for complicity when we don't question local norms.  It is also a good read.

Just finished is the story Unbroken  by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is nonfiction, a WWII story of a man who competed in the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin.  When the U.S. entered the war after Pearl Harbor he became a bombadier in a B-24 Liberator.  After several successful missions Louie, his pilot Phil, and Mack are stranded in life boats in the Pacific behind enemy lines.  Louie and Phil are picked up by the Japanese and their odyssey of horror through interrogations and beatings, starvation, and abuse in Japanese prison camps ensues.  As the subtitle of the book says, it is a story of survival and resilience.  This book is extremely well written, even though you want to cover your eyes sometimes.  I highly recommend this book.

Currently reading: Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell.  This book was made into a movie which won best picture at Sundance.  I'm about a third of the way into the book and the writing is very good.

That's the list so far.  Now, as DS was getting ready to go on a business trip he expressed the desire for some light reading on the plane.  When I invited him to take something from my shelf, he looked at me and said, "You don't read anything light."  When you look at the list above, he has a point.

So dear readers, here's a challenge for you:
Are there any "light reading" books that you would recommend to me?  Everything I've read in the past couple years are listed at my LT account, so you can check to see if your recommendation is already there.  But if it's truly light, it's probably not there. sigh


  1. Right now, my idea of light reading is "Sense and Sensibility". An argument can certainly be made for the lightness that is Jane Austen, but this one is quite dark. My serious reading is The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, which is really excellent.

    As far as truly light, but still very good, you can't go wrong with Bill Bryson. I just finished "The Life and Times of the Tunderbolt Kid", which is his memoir of growing up in 1950's Des Moines. Nothing extraordinary happens, his parents are nice people, his friends are fun. It's just a good portrait of a particular time and place. "Into the Woods" is a very good and very funny account of hiking the Appalachian Trail. I could go on and on, I've read most of his books and they're all really good.

  2. Great list - thanks. Couldn't finish either Great House or Three Cups of Tea, but I digress. William Boyd has some well-written and engrossing fiction. Three that come to mind are Armadillo, Ordinary Thunderstorms and Restless. He also has literary fiction, but these three are page turners. Both Ian and I liked them, but we like Boyd's serious stuff as well.

  3. Oh, light reading for someone who doesn't naturally gravitate towards it. Hmm, I don't do a lot of light reading either, but I do like a good mystery, travel or foodie type book. I'll second Bill Bryson, but I hated the Thunderbolt Kid, thought it the worst of his writing.In A Sunburned Country about Australia was laugh out loud funny and worthy of a reread. Travel books by Paul Theroux are always good.Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, excellent. For just some great reading David Liss, try the Whiskey Rebels. Michael Ruhlman has a couple of fun and good foodie books. Anthony Bourdain's first book, Kitchen Confidential is also a fun light read.


tie in the loose ends...