Saturday, January 4, 2014

On the bookshelf...

Turns out Books-a-Million doesn't actually have a book club that meets. They advertise they do - but this is false advertising. How do I know? I went to the meeting and found myself alone. So sad. But - it sparked my desire to start a book club and I have - The January Book Club. We'll be meeting soon. Our book choice is listed below and it's pretty great!

What I love about breaks from school is I actually have time to READ! It's so nice to understand more than two pages of text before I fall into dreamland (which I rarely dream or at least I rarely remember them - is that strange?)

Nevertheless - books I'd like to share with you all this round:

Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood:

I noted when I started reading this book I was immediately drawn in; this did not change. T. Greenwood weaves an endearing, somewhat surprising, love story between two women. Yes, two women. I'm not giving a lot away here. It's pretty obvious when Eve moves in across the street that our narrator is far more enamored with her beyond carpools and bake sales. But the love between these two women is so pure, despite their terrible marriages, their struggles, their stumbles, these women play a role in each others lives that we should covet. They truly love one another and understand the sacrifices of their love - to each other, their children, and their husbands. I cried many times in this novel because Greenwood writes with such affection. I could not put this one down. I highly recommend!

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

First of all,  I love John Green. His series on Youtube that covers history and literature is well-worth your time to watch. He teaches in a way that I understand and remember. Ahh - to achieve this goal. I digress.

His books are fantastic, too. I loved The Fault in our Stars, a line borrowed from Julius Caesar, "The fault dear Brutus is in our stars, not in ourselves, that we are underlings..." It covers the story of teens with cancer, but without being too melodramatic and sappy. It broke my heart. It made me laugh. And then broke my heart again. He writes well-rounded characters that are so true to life it seems as if you could simply meet them tomorrow. I enjoy his portrayal of real teens, not teens living in an end of the world dystopian society that are somehow going to save it - I work with teens, this is absolute fiction. Green's novels aren't entirely fiction and I appreciate this. Granted they are written under the guise of a story, but they are written about events in a young person's life that might actually happen - there are teens with cancer and these children fight with the strength of Spartans for their lives. John Green captures the very essence of this.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Always a good idea to pick up a Sherlock Holmes classic and give it a whirl. I want my mind to work like Holmes, or at the very least, the good Dr. Watson. I enjoyed this book because it brought in a piece of the supernatural - giant dogs. I think they exist - maybe they were the model for the shape-shifters in Twilight (yeah, Meyers reads - she may not write with the flourish of Shakespeare, but she is a well-read women, it's all over her series, allusions to literature). The Hound of the Baskervilles follows the curse of one particular family, The Baskervilles. Every man bequeathed the family home finds his way to a gruesome death. Watson and Holmes are on the case trying to figure out what lurks in the night. As always, there are plenty of characters with twists, turns, and trysts that keep the reader guessing until the very end. But, in true Holmes and Watson style, the long narratives that allot for their specific proclivities of decision making take the reader through two brilliant minds. Holmes always gets the credit, but without my dear Watson, the terra firma of the series would sink.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I picked this up in Books-a-Million because it was on the literary book club shelf for January. I enjoyed it. It has a certain dark macabre writing style that eases its way out as the reader eases their way into a very private, but public dinner. The narrator of the text, Paul Lohman, is a detestable character, but one doesn't realize this at first. He lives in the shadow of his highly political, office holding, beautiful wife having, adopted son from Africa, two perfect biological children older brother and he hates him. Wow, he just really hates him. Resents him is more like it. And at first, the reader does, too. I mean, a politician is rarely a likable guy, but who says literary characters have to be likable - certainly not me. Throughout this dinner to discuss a very disturbing event of which their children were involved - cousins are just a step away from siblings - the book takes the reader on a journey through the conversation that begins light with appetizers and throttles full force by dessert and drinks after. I particularly liked the part of the novel where the narrator loses his shit teaching one day and tells off the kids, the principal, and some parents. Of course, he gets fired (or put on medical leave we'll say) but the release he must have felt. This is only a small snippet of Paul's descent into madness, but it was my favorite one.

But, as a parent this novel greatly disturbed me. These parents are doing what I LOATHE in parenting: fixing their children's mistakes. And I think I loathe it because I found myself wondering if I would do it? Would I go this far? A good question.

The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe

This is The January Book Club's January 2014 selection. I won't review it here because I want to hear what my fellow readers thought about the women. I will say I enjoyed reading it and found parts of my life connected to every character in some way - I'm sure that was no accident by the author.

What I'm reading now:

May We be Forgiven by A.M. Holmes

RIVETING - just riveting. Very Gone Girl feel to it, but shockingly more disturbing. How far would one go to protect the family?

Up next:

Looking for Alaska  by John Green OR Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I'm not sure which one I'm going to read, I'd like to see what the new book club thinks about making one of these our February pick. Both are YA novels and I want us to be varied.

Happy Reading!!!

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