Friday, September 28, 2012

Books I read in September 2012

Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox **

I read this book for book club.  It was a memoir.  It felt like homework to read it.  I persevered because it was for book club and because it was a compelling series of adventures.  They just all sort of blurred because there were so many of them.  Lynne Cox was a long distance swimmer and swam all over the world in inhospitable conditions.  (32 degree water!)  The writing lacked sufficient motivation.  I didn't get why she was doing all of those swims.  She just seemed a little foolhardy to me.  Also, she mentioned a steady stream of people that were part of her team and crew and I didn't know a thing about them or why they were on the team or why I should care about them.

I heard through the grapevine that my good friend JoLyn liked the writing.  (I forgot to ask her at our writing group.) Since I don't see JoLyn enough and since I want to know why she liked the writing, JoLyn should have come to book club. (I miss you, JoLyn.)  The end. 

as a bonus, Mark thought the guy on the front cover looked like Chuck Norris

By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman***

This is a book that Mark and I read as part of his school curriculum.  I decided to add these books here too because 1) I read them and 2) someone else might have a Mark sized person in their life and be interested in a recommendation.

Mark read this book on his own.  Easy enough for a 4th grader.  Give me a minute to wrap my mind around Mark=4th grader.

It's confusing that he's a 4th grader when he still looks like this in my mind.

OK.  I'm back.

This was an entertaining and action packed story about a boy Jack and his butler named Praiseworthy.  They leave Boston to make their fortune in the California gold rush. Praiseworthy was my favorite.  He's delightfully prim and proper and witty and wise and transforms into a mountain man by the end of the book. 

creepy cover didn't do much to improve book

William Wilberforce: God's Politician by John Holzmann *

This is another book that we read for Mark's school curriculum.  William Wilberforce, a key player in the abolition of slavery in Britain, was an important guy and this was a significant piece of history.  This book was boring though.  It's one of the ones I borrowed from Marianne.  She wrote in the inside cover, "Don't judge the curriculum by this book.  The other books are better."  That kind of says it all.  I skimmed a few parts as I read it aloud to Mark.  I read reviews that said it was meant to read like a textbook.  Fine.  But textbooks don't need to be this boring.

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchey ***

I love Maeve Binchey.  I've always loved everything I've read of hers (although sometimes her short stories frustrate me because I want them to be novels instead of short stories).  Her books, once you've read several of them over a span of years, make you feel like you have amnesia.  Characters show up from other novels and I have a foggy recollection of them--enough that I feel like I should remember all the details of their lives but I don't.  This book was good, like all the rest.  The characters are believable and the stories are compelling and satisfying.  This one seemed to ramble a little so wasn't my favorite of hers but I still enjoyed it.

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell ***

Another 4th grade book.  I loved Island of the Blue Dolphins when I was growing up.  I think because of that, I'll always be a Scott O'Dell fan.  This is a good book.  It's about a Navaho girl.  She and her family were gathered up and put on a reservation.  It was sad.  Also, when I read the afterword, it made me think Kit Carson was a rat.  Carson City was named after him!  Nevada should have reconsidered.

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler ****

I love Anne Tyler.  I know she's not everyone's flavor.  (Once when I recommended a book by her for book club, it was met with a tepid response.)  I think she absolutely nails her characters though.  They are all quirky and like no one you've ever met but completely believable at the same time.  This book struck me as incredibly real. It's fascinating and impressive to see an author write so well.


Olivia Cobian said...

I like that you're including Mark's schoolbooks because they're Lili's schoolbooks too and I'm happy to see your take on them. You know, I value your opinion very much.

JoLyn said...

I just finished "Swimming to Antarctica" a few days ago, so I'm not sure how a recommendation from me materialized. I liked the book better than you did, but by the end, I thought she was a little nuts. What's the point of doing something stupid, just to say you did it first?

Mostly, I just wanted her to get together with that Egyptian swimmer. I always like a good romance.

I wonder if people confused the fact that I thought "Unwind" "Unwound"? would make for some interesting discussion?


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