Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Books I've loved and hated over the years

I love, love, love Water for Elephants. I'm tell everyone I know to read it or buy it. Could be a gift for friends and family for Christmas, I love it so much! I was hesitant about this novel at first. I read reviews of it about a million times. I was carrying it around in a book store to buy and some guy asked me if I read it yet and when I said no (uh... logic here... I'm in the store ready to BUY it...hello?) he raved about its greatness. And it WAS good. I love the female author telling a first person POV of an old guy and in flashback no less. I like the circus, the touch of romance, the mystery, the passion, the sensuality, the friendship building, the story line and the tone. This was a good read. Once I got going, I couldn't put it down. I read it several years ago and it was so good, I might to pull it out and reread it. I highly recommend it. Get this book!

Then there is the opposite of loving to hating with The Mermaid Chair. Do not waste your money on The Mermaid Chair. This is tripe. This is a bad wanna be The Thorn Birds and doesn't even come close. This sucks. I was so disappointed. I have no idea how a mom cutting off her thumb, a childhood trauma, a mermaid legend, religion, and a failing marriage all come together to make a story. Oh wait... they don't! I hate this book. Actually, the more I write about it, the more I dislike it. Yuck!

Maybe I should stick to writing about books I love? I've been lucky to be able to teach one of my all time favorite books: To Kill a Mockingbird. I love reading this book. Scout's voice gives me the good chills. And it doesn't hurt that Hollywood helped with a positive visual in that of Mr. Gregory Peck. I love this novel and teaching it is a true pleasure in life.

I've also taught another favorite: A Separate Peace. Again, another coming of age story that's an intelligent read to boot. I like the language and the simple ideas but complex emotions that tie this story together. (Oh listen to me being all up in Oprah's book club shit- take that Ms. Winfrey!) I read this the first time when I was a sophomore in high school and for me, it never gets old.

And if I haven't said to go read anything by Greg Isles- then by all means go! Now! Well, not now, after you read ME, then go get one of his books. Better yet, click over to Amazon, order a book and come back here. I would suggest Turning Angel. I would suggest anything. I've also read Devil's Punchbowl and True Evil- both are good, chilling, terrifying. His mysteries are a far cry from the cookie cutter sleuth stories that are being tossed at us by publishers at an alarming rate. His mind is sharp and he entwines many plot twists and turns. The deep south setting adds to the story; there is something already "haunting" about the deep south with it's historical ghost lore, so I think stories set there are creepy to start with. And this is not to say he writes ghost stories- I'm just using that as a comparison that lends to the unsettling setting. I always feel my heart pound and I feel sweaty when there is some excitement building because it's not just hot in the south in his books, but it's damn sweltering HOT, and he builds on this, creating a place for the reader just inside the door of the story. Gawd, his books are marvel-ous!

Furthermore, while you're clicking around finding stuff to read over at Amazon instead of reading me, read 1000 Splendid Suns. This was a great follow up novel to The Kite Runner, which you better read, in case you so haven't. Both are wonderful. Don't let the setting- Iraq- stop you. This is a masterful story and it made me cry and made me self aware and made me think and gave me joy and sometimes made me a little bit uncomfortable with the world around me. Good, good, good. I love a book that I can read for pleasure and also that makes me think. The Kite Runner is one of the best books ever written.

Now, we all know that I practically worship Christopher Moore. And I love ALMOST anything he writes. But I have a problem with the vampire series. I don't have a problem with vampires at all, but sometimes I just think the story lines in this series sort of... suck. (haha- puns!) I don't exactly hate You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore but I sure as hell don't love it and nor would I recommend it. The pop culture references of the vampire sub culture were made with such fluency that if you aren't a vampyre lover and master to the culture then you were totally outta da loop. (I've never watched an episode of Buffy nor watched that sister witch show all the way through... I had a rough time with all the vampire references.) I like Christopher Moore's books, usually, but this would be the exception. Turning your lover into a vampire because you are lonely and don't want to spend eternity alone is a hard place to start a story and for me... it just didn't work. A blue hooker? A gang of vampire hunters who work at the Safeway? A homeless guy who is god-like? An 800+ year old vampire out for revenge and a 16 year old goth girl with a gay side kick who has to save the world? Uh...nope. And that carries into Bite Me, which I read earlier this year and have about the same opinion of it as well!

Finally, I think reading Jodi Picoult is a great way to spend some reading time. Alert: if you want happy chick lit, beach reads, James Patterson snappy-ness, then DO NOT read her. She is deep. She is smart. She is complex. She is a WRITER. Her books can have grit and meat. These are books written in a conversational way but sucks the reader in. The material is hard hitting. Touching. Painful sometimes. But this is some of the best fiction I've read in a long, long time. I've read many of her books but since she is heavy and sometimes emotional, I try and spread her out through my leisure reading. (And when I say heavy and emotional I don't mean depressing all the time!) Check out 19 Minutes, Plain Truth The 10th Circle, House Rules, and My Sister's Keeper. Oh wow- and the endings blow me away each and every time. Totally unpredictable.

Okay, now go buy or find your library card and read, read, read!

1 Comment:

once in a blue moon... said...

fun to read your comment, so many books, its just a joy to know how much still awaits us :-)

i read sunflowers after you mentioned it, i gave it 3.5*'s. i wonder if i am getting too jaded as i read!