Books read in December

Some good and not-so-good (cough*Twilight*cough) went on this month. Yay for spending more of the month at home rather than at work.

Map of Ireland. Stephanie Grant
Hard to read but lovely (and short) fictional story of a girl (who likes girls) from Southie during the busing crisis of the 1970s.

Twilight. Stephine Meyer.
Wow. Probably the worst writing I’ve read this year, and I don’t consider myself a picky reader. The story line was interesting and kept me reading to the end, but the main characters’ real ages (17 year old girl and 90-something man) was a bit pedophilistic for me. That said, I may read the second book to see 1) if the writing improves, 2) if the plot line gets worse or better.

CatSpeak. Bash Dibra with Elizabeth Randoph
How you cat talks to you and you can talk to your cat. Good advice on training and good illustrations.

The Whole Pet Diet: 8 Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats. Andi Brown.
I’ve been reading a lot about creating your own pet food and I really like this book. In it, you spend eight weeks making small changes that supposedly make for a much healthier and happier cat. Or dog.

In the Woods. Tanya French.
After reading The Likeness I eagerly looked forward to this book which is the first book. There was quite a long queue at the library for it. I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed the main character, to my surprise not the main character from The Likeness but instead her partner. The plot line moved rapidly and I enjoyed not only figuring out whodunit, but also the main character’s relationship with his partner. A book I made time to read.

Shutter Island. Dennis Lehane.
After I finished this book I really hated it. I felt manipulated by the plot and annoyed about all the tension I had built up in the process of reading it. It doesn’t help that I tend to absorb books while reading and dissect them later so I never saw the plot twist coming. Still, creepy setting, good main characters, clever plot. This is probably an average book but I didn’t like it so it gets one star.

New Moon. Stephanie Meyer.
In the second book, I figured out my main problem with this series. I find Meyer’s writing style incredibly distracting, but in New Moon I discovered that when Edward is around, her writing style gets worse. Without Edward, her writing style is the annoying drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. But when Edward appears the pipe breaks and bad prose gushes onto the page. I also realized that I DON’T LIKE EDWARD CULLEN! He’s moody and arrogant and boring. Yay that he is very smart and incredibly good looking etc. etc. etc. Despite those very surface things, he ultimately bugs. I think Meyers still hasn’t fleshed him out as a character unlike Bella or (the vastly superior to Edward) Jacob.

It may have to do with temperature preference, but I would choose a hot-blooded werewolf over a cold-marble vampire any day.

Midway through the book I thought, “Dammit, she’s got me again. Her interesting plot line has triumphed over her bad prose.” But by the end I was so annoyed with the bad prose I had no interest in the rest of the series.

The Road. Cormac McCarthy.
When your life is pared down to a survival level–shelter, food–what would your days contain? Like other McCarthy books the prose was easy to read, but the story itself was hard. One of those books I will be thinking about for the next week. There is a movie, but I will not see it. Some images were hard enough to view in my head. I don’t need to see them in their cinematic glory.

I Capture the Castle. Dodie Smith.
I saw this movie when it came out in 2003 and enjoyed it. As I was buying books this summer for my trip, this was remaindered at Powell’s and I grabbed it. However, I only recently picked it up and what a treat! The narration is absolutely sparkling and there are many funny scenes. The plot does an excellent job of chronicling family life–although this family is a bit odder than others–and also falling in love for the first time. The prose does an excellent job of painting pictures of an English village, a manor house, and 1930s London. The characters are well developed and likable through their quirks. Recommended.

Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon. Brad Hudson.
Not really a book for beginning runners, but for people who have some idea what their 3K, 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon pace is. I am not one of those people, but I like his message about not being a slave to your training plan. He also discusses how people are built to run many miles, but not super fast, or are super fast, but don’t run many miles as well. The book includes many training plans.

Started but did not finish
Real Food for Cats. Patti Delmonte
Recipes for your cat’s food that don’t come from a can.

Think Like a Cat. Pam Johnson-Bennett

Lamb in Love. Carrie Brown.
I enjoyed The Rope Walk earlier this year and was sad that yet another of Carrie Brown’s novel didn’t move me. I couldn’t get in to the main characters and set the book down.

Not quite dead. John MacLaughlin Gray.
Normally I like a nice historical fiction about real characters you think wouldn’t meet. However, I did not like this, and gave up on it.

The Woman Warrior. Maxine Hong Kingston.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I haven’t read this and even more embarrassed to admit that I started it and put it down early on. I just slogged through the grim landscape of The Road and I wasn’t ready for the opening scene. I’ll pick it up later.

Did not even start.
The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness and the Creation of Roget’s Thesarus. Joshua Kendall
Did you know that, among other things, Roget invented the log-log slide rule? I was researching the slide rule and checked this book out thinking it would have a bit about that, and that is exactly what it had: two paragraphs.

Homecoming. Bernhard Schlink.
Sometimes the sentence “translated from the German” doesn’t really pull me in. I never even opened this, though it sat near my chair for three weeks.

2 thoughts on “Books read in December”

  1. You can train a cat? I had a friend who would render an entire turkey and bushel of parsley every couple of months for her cat. That is sincere cat love.

    Thanks for the reviews–As a snailspace reader, I like recommendations and I will definately pick up “The Road” and the running book. . . .

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