As I said the other day, one of my New Years Resolutions this year was to read at least two books per month. (read here) For documentation’s sake, I thought I’d give a brief summary of the ones I’ve read thus far. One of William’s good friends, Cody, suggested writing a mini book report on the books I read. I really wish I had done that. Or been able to do it. I have discovered that after being out of school for so long, I am not very good and reading and discussing my thoughts about it anymore. Oh lets be honest, I was never very good at it.
No matter, here are my little brain dumps on Books 1-10–likely for no one’s pleasure but my own.
- Book #1: The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter
My first read of 2013. I’ve always been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln. Such a stoic human. Such a tumultuous time period. The premise of this book starts with Lincoln surviving the attempted assassination by John Wilkes Booth and continues with what the author thinks would have happened had he lived. A few things in particular stuck out to me about the themes in this book. Carter did a wonderful job outlining the political climate, albeit unrest, at this time in our history. How far we haven’t come from those days. I loved that Carter was able to make the former President the central figure of the book while only having him appear in about 5-6 scenes. According to an interview he did after the book was published, he said it was quite daunting to attempt to “put words into Lincoln’s mouth” and have them be historically sound while still in keeping with the plot of the book. The result was a developed character that was as equally present as not while remaining the novel’s underlining protagonist. This was a “just for fun” book as there is, clearly, no historical basis behind it, but I loved it all the same!
- Book #2: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Not even going to lie to you guys, I did not love this book. I think I would have actually enjoyed it a lot more had I been reading it in a discussion group or lit. class. I read the entire thing thinking, “Wow this is one of those books. There is a heap storm of symbolism going on in this sucker that I do not understand, nor do I care to.” I do like a good “coming of age” novel, however, the protagonist in this one annoyed the poo out of me. I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and tell him to snap out of it.
- Book #3: What is the What by Dave Eggers
This was my first Dave Eggers book. Loved it. It is by no means a light read, however, it touched me immensely. Easily one of my top 5 favorite books I’ve ever read. My words wouldn’t come close to doing it justice, but what a powerful story of human suffering, perseverance, and will to overcome.
- Book #4: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This was a quick read. You’ll notice that a lot of my pairings thus far this year have been a long and a short book. What is the What is about 600 pages long so I needed a quick one to stay on track! I own a few Agatha Christie novels, but this was my first to read (reoccurring theme with me). I love a good suspense novel and this one was wonderful. I’m a gluten for period novels as well and this one was first published in 1939. I loved that the copy I have still uses ‘electric torch’ instead of ‘flashlight’. Ah, so good.
- Book #5: 39 Steps by John Buchan
A while back, I purchased the Boys’ Adventure Series put out by Penguin Classics. Not going to lie to you, I purchased them partly because I’m in love with the covers that were designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith who is also behind the beautiful cloth-bound classics that Penguin has put out that are carried by Anthropologie among other stores. Regardless, several in the series I had never read before so I purchased them. I enjoyed 39 Steps. It was a fun novel first published in 1915. It was Buchan’s first “shocker” novel. The main character is a man on the run for most of the book, and I really liked how Buchan loosely tied the novel’s time period to actual events in British history. It was a quick, fun read.
- Book #6: Train Dreams: A Novella by Denis Johnson
This one was recommended to me by a dear friend of mine. I would like to read this one again sometime. I enjoyed it, however, I don’t believe I enjoyed it to the extent I should have. The story is epic and tragic all at the same time. The author experiences so much in a few short pages.
- Book #7: Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
This book was given to me by my grandmother the day my college roommate passed away. Inside she wrote me a message reminding me of the angels in our lives–both here and in Heaven. It has taken me 5 years to bring myself to read it. I cried through the whole thing. It is a wonderful story.
- Book #8: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
Summer of the Swans was the Newbery Medal winner in 1971. Yes, it is technically a children’s or young adults book, however, I read it anyway. Several years back, I asked my grandmother for “old books” for Christmas. No idea why I did such a thing but it is on of my favorite gifts I’ve ever been given. My copy of Summer of the Swans was one of the books given to me that Christmas in my “old book” collection my grandmother painstakingly put together for me, though I had never read it. It was a quick read, but it will definitely be one I read with my daughter one day should I have one.
- Book #9: Night by Elie Wiesel
I cannot believe I hadn’t read this before, but I had not. What a powerful and poignant account of a horrible time in our history. I have also never read The Diary of Anne Frank but after reading Night, has moved up to the top of my list. The fact that the story is true breaks my heart, but it was the power of Elie’s writing is what drew me in. I’m not sure what else I expect from someone who lived through one of the worst crimes in our history, but his writing was wonderful.
- Book #10: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Again, surprising that I have not already read this but I am really enjoying it. There are several passages that Bradbury so astutely writes in the early 50s that are 100%% spot on for how our culture is today. As a huge advocate of the physical, written word, you can imagine the thought of premise around this book is simultaneously intriguing and disturbing to me. I can definitely identify with the old woman who choses to go up in flames with her home once she’s discovered to be harboring books. (No, I wouldn’t do such a thing for books, but I understand her emotional attachment to what reading gives to us as humans)
For Book #11, I’m reading The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard. I’m actually 1/3 of the way in to it and really enjoying it. I discovered my love for reading Westerns after reading Lonesome Dove last year. A fact which is shocking considering I grew up in a household with one of those GIANT TV satellites in the backyard–which was really neat when it snowed and made the perfect place to make snowballs, but was NOT cool the other 364.5 days of the year when it monopolized every TV in the house. How I complained when Dad took control of the TV to watch Tora! Tora! Tora! for the 3,022nd time or some all-weekend John Wayne marathon. Ah well, yet another time my father was right. And I’ll leave it at that because he does read my blog and I don’t want to give him too much joy in being right.
I’m always up for new book suggestions, so if you have them, I’m all ears!