September 26, 2012

Literally Literary: The Good Kind of Streaking

"Literally Literary" is a feature in which I write about books, reading and more books. My hope is the post title will provide a subtle hint that I am posting about BOOKS. For those of you where the topic of books results in narcoleptic fits thereby causing you to faceplant onto your keyboard, this will allow you to just click away from the horror that is the written word. Also, I simply adore the word "literally", it is literally my favorite adverb. Bonus points if pronounced with a Rob Lowe/Parks n' Recreation affectation.

Special Note: All posts contain non-affiliate links - I do not have an Amazonian Fancy Pants Affiliate Thingie.

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Over the past few months, I have been ranting and raving about what a spectacular reading streak I have been on.  A streak that has lasted MONTHS.  I thought I would do a recap post when the streak ended, but at this point, there is no end in sight.  I am currently reading Wally Lamb's "She's Come Undone" (SO GOOD, Lamp reminds me of John Irving and has made the list of authors of whom I must read their entire library).  

Next on the list is JK Rowling's "A Casual Vacancy" (dropping TOMORROW.  Or rather MIDNIGHT, if I happen to be suffering from insomnia, yet again.)  and then, Laura Moriarty's "The Chaperone" (I chose the cover for this book as the image for the post --  I love that image and it reminds me of my great-grandmother.  She was a concert pianist and would have been touring around the same time period.)  

Also, I am asking YOU what has been melting your literary butter lately so that you can help my streak continue.  Can you help a reader out?

No spoilers are in any of my blatherings.  Pinkie swear.

Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
A weird, creepy book that starts out as a mystery, then turns into psychological thriller about halfway through.  At one point, I was walking around the house while reading.  I also had to hastily explain to my hungry children  what a "mystery" was while absently pointing in the general direction of the pantry where the Larabars live.

The Blood of Flowers” by Anita Amirrezvani
This is set in 17th century Persia and features a 14 year old girl whose future prospects are turned upside down when her father dies.  Her mother and her go to live with her uncle, who is a carpet maker.  The girl learns the trade along the way but struggles because of the limited opportunities for women in that time period.  I loved, loved this character and by the end of the book, it became a page-turner for me because I simply had to know what became of her.  Also, the author was quite talented in presenting the story in a richly-drawn environment.

Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward
With this being the winner of the 2011 National Book Award, I am wondering why more folks have not heard of this one.  This one is set in Mississippi and opens just a few days before Katrina comes bearing down.  It is not about Katrina, per se, but it does give you a perspective on the folks living there.  It also helped me understand what it must be like to be presented with an utter lack of choices - not just regarding the lack of Katrina evacuations, but also their lives in general


Where the Line Bleeds” by Jesmyn Ward
Another one by Ward.  Twin brothers are graduating from high school -- college is not an option and even the hope of finding a job is a slim one.  One of them does find a job, but the other one is left at loose ends and struggles.  Overall, I really like how Ward weaves a story and she is an author I have my eye on from now on.  If she is writing something, then it is important enough for me to read because I want to hear what she has to say.

Winter’s Bone” by Daniel Woodrell
This book is another dark one and shows that poverty is not limited to race.  It is set in southern Missouri and  features a strong, lead female character whose family is involved in the meth business.  Her father goes missing while out on bond and if the girl doesn't find him in time, her house will be taken by the bondsmen.  I probably related to this book more than both of Wards' for the simple fact that I am white and while I am not poor, I have lived in small communities where there is poverty.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that some of my best friends in grade school were poverty-stricken.

Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn
This was Flynn's first book and my least favorite of her three.  I still enjoyed this book, although some of became a little silly and contrived.  However, it was a fun, eerie romp that reminded me of the twisted deliciousness that was VC Andrews (remember Flowers in the Attic?)

Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn
This was actually my favorite of the three Flynn reads.  It wasn't as gripping or addictive as "Gone Girl", but this one really spoke to me.  It was heart wrenching to see a family ripped apart by bad choices and poverty.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom
I read this in one sitting -- it is a short read, but it is one that will leave you thinking.  I don't even believe in the concept of Heaven and Hell, but I was easily able to get on board with the story structure that Albom presented.

Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Piccoult
Honestly,  I think Piccoult is a bit of a hack.  I have read a few of her books but her consistent, formulaic writing turned me off.  However, "Nineteen Minutes" came highly recommended by a friend, so I picked it up.  And then, I could hardly put it down.  Yikes.  Yes, it is her usual Plots Ripped From the Headlines modus operandi but this one is about bullying.  Overall, I really appreciated how she presented the story from about six different viewpoints.  I wish she had written from the bullys' perspectives (at least from ONE of them), but I still appreciated how she constructed this storyline, even going back from the beginning in Kindergarten and showing us the progression of the bullying.

The floor is yours, Gentle Reader.  What have YOU been reading?


10 comments:

Maggie said...

I've been reading a lot but nothing to recommend. I am adding all of these to my library requests (even Piccoult and I feel the same as you regarding her writing style). I think you will also really like Wally Lamb's I Know This Much is True. I liked his The Hour I First Believed as well. I will recommend So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star by Jacob Slichter for an eye opening look at the business of music.

Rita Arens said...

From your blog to my Goodreads!

Right now I'm reading Barbarians at the Gate, which is not super intriguing but shows how hostile takeovers go down (research for a project) and Matched, which is YA dystopian. I'm reading it for work. It's light.

We talked about Laura Moriarty's earlier novels, which I loved, and my favorite BlogHer Book Club books this year were The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau, Rules of Civility (that might've been last year) by Amor Towles, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway and Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. I also just read and talked about Daring Greatly by Brene Brown -- not light but great. I started to read Fizwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, but had to stop due to too many uses of the word "impaled" to describe S-E-X. ha!

Allison said...

I would second "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green. (Just returned it to the Olathe Library, BTW) I may have dissed the Young Adult genre by thinking it was going to be Sweet Valley Highish, but I enjoyed it more than many "adult" novels (wait, that didn't come out right.) I think you would enjoy the main character's sassy and smart voice. Quick read (esp as fast as you seem to take down books.) I have his other book "Looking for Alaska" on hold now and can report back on it later. Hoping it's not a double dip of the same YA formula.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorites from this year was The Art of Fielding. I read it right after reading The Marriage Plot and liked it much more. Was very disappointed to not like The Marriage Plot, as I liked Eugenides earlier stuff.

Currently on a run of mysteries...I wish they'd put better covers on them though, so I wouldn't have to carry around books with ORANGE & RED backgrounds covered with VERY BIG TYPE TITLES AND AUTHORS.

Yes, it's true. I still read real books and often scorn my Kindle.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Maggie,
I have read "This Much I Know is True", but obviously I need to check out "The Hour I First Believed" as well!

Rita and Allison,
I LOVED "The Fault in our Stars". I did enjoy "Looking for Alaska", too. But "The Fault in Our Stars" really tore at me.

Anon,
"The Art of Fielding" is now on my holds list! Thanks for the rec!

jestingjousts said...

The last book I read for leisure was State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Immensely liked it, would highly recommend. That was probably 4 months ago. With a baby in the picture, the books I now pick up from the library are "Rookie Dad", "Mayo Clinic's guide to baby's first year" and such.

I'm sure you know this, Winter's Bone was made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, pre-Hunter Games. The movie is pretty good!

I searched for "A Casual Vacancy" in my county library, returned nothing. "'The' Casual Vacancy" though showed up, I'm request #1284.

Did I mention how awesome of a library system we have here in Minneapolis? We do.

Thanks for the other recommendations, maybe in the next year or so I'll have time to go through some.

~ Krishanu

Rachel said...

I agree with your thoughts on Savage the Bone. Anyone who didn't understand why people didn't "just leave" before Hurricane Katrina should be required to read that book.

The Chaperone was really good. Right now, I'm reading Tiger Hills, set in turn of the century India. I'm liking it a lot.

Monkey said...

Battle Royale-though if you thought Hunger Games had a sickening premise, this one is even scarier. A lot of people say that Collins may have ripped off this book but I think they are different. Plus, the movie version of it is on Netflix.

Read it on the way back from CA and was transfixed.

-Monkey

kreed said...

Sigh. You just grew my reading list:) I am currently reading a book about a family that survived the Titanic disaster...I think I will try to pick up Rowling's new one next!

jodifur said...

I just finished and When She Was Good by Laura Lippman and I really liked it.