Monday, July 30, 2007

Vacation reading

Up first, of course: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was lovely to be away from the Internet and able to just enjoy the book. Perfectly satisfying and everything that is good about the series. The photo above was taken shortly after we bought the book Saturday morning (in a little independent bookstore with no line at all, where there were people buying things other than Harry Potter!). J was having fun taking pictures and exploring the town -- I was pleased to find a place to sit and read the first chapter.

For the rest of the week:
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
The Secret of Chimneys, Agatha Christie
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez
Elephants Can Remember, Agatha Christie

I enjoyed Sense and Sensibility. I hadn't read any Austen since college, and it's much more relaxing when you won't be expected to analyze it. I'll have to (re)read Pride and Prejudice -- that's one I read in high school, but I don't remember much more than the very basics.

No lake vacation is complete without a few mysteries. Chimneys is a much better Christie than Elephants, but both were fun.

Garcia Girls was not my favorite. It had such a mix of styles, and while I understand that's meant to characterize the sisters, it often didn't seem to work particularly well for my brain. I loved the characters and their stories, but I got impatient with some parts, especially toward the end.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Poor little scapegoat book

I almost want to skip writing about this one, but that feels like cheating somehow. Election, by Tom Perrotta, made me cranky. I liked the book (and it made me think the movie was very well casted) but it was just so depressing: generally miserable people living generally miserable lives. I really don't think it's the book's fault; I'm just in a mood.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Two afternoons and an evening

Three compulsively readable, short little books this weekend. First was Calvin Trillin's About Alice. Alice is Trillin's late wife, and while the book is about her death and her absence, It is more a celebration of who she was and how she lived. It's a life story crossed with a love letter. Beautifully simple writing with the perfect balance of sadness and sweetness.

Trillin's short novel, Tepper Isn't Going Out, takes that simple charm to a much lighter subject: parking in New York. Tepper's occasional afternoons and evenings parked legally (always legally!) and reading the newspaper in his car in much-coveted locations make him a minor celebrity. Chuckle-out-loud funny at points, the books puts an endearingly uncomplicated character in a surprising yet realistic situation.

Yesterday afternoon I devoured I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (who also wrote The Book Thief, which I adored). I didn't really expect to like it when I read the first few pages, but I kept going and I liked it better and better. Then it ended, and I sat for a few minutes thinking, woah. There is much more to the book and the story than it seems -- it would be a good one to reread more slowly.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Heavy light reading

It's not exactly chick-lit, but Katharine Noel's Halfway House is definitely an old-style Oprah book. Engrossing, family-focused, real-world problems, a bit depressing, not a whole lot to say about it. It's the story of a family dealing with the daughter's manic depression in pre-cell-phone New Hampshire (mobile phones would have been very useful to this family). Oddly, I really liked the character of the father but found the sections of the book devoted to him to be very dull. Overall, it's a satisfying, simple summer read.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Is it July 21 yet?

Rereading books five and six in anticipation -- I need to refresh my memory and watch for more clues before the seventh book finally arrives. If you're the one person in the world who hasn't yet read (or rejected the idea of reading) this series, please do so. Now.