Books read in April

I felt like there was a ton of non-fiction this month and not much fiction, but it seems that is not the case.

Paulann Petersen
Petersen is Oregon’s current Poet Laureate and so I figured I should read up. I liked her site-specific poems written on her travels, specifically “Dawn” and “Navigation”

Note that 1) Kindle also happens to be the name of a reading device made by and 2)Paulann Petersen doesn’t have a big presence on Goodreads, so I was not able to find the book on the Goodreads site and publish this review.

How to Grow More Vegetables 7th Edition
John Jeavons
I bought the sixth edition when I bought my house in 2007 and my first garden flourished despite the thick clay soil. This edition clarifies the vast amounts of information in it by providing concise step-by-step procedures for many common intensive gardening tasks.

The Grow Biointensive method is a bit of a form of gardening for wonky people who like numbers, but I like the idea of creating a closed system, even if it means sacrificing good “vegetable” space to grow your own “browns” to be composted. I think this method is a good self-sufficient method and I like the focus on sustainability (grow your own compost, save your own seed, use your own muscles for the work) and the emphasis on continually building up the soil.

Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
Fun young adult novel about a girl sent off to spend her senior year at a boarding school in Paris, France where she mostly ignores the charms of the city and simultaneously pines for two unavailable boys. In other words, acts like a typical teenager. This was thicker than most YA books, which I found to be a plus.

My Name is Memory
Ann Brashares
First the bad: I had Elton John’s annoying treacle of a song “Daniel” in my head during the time, and for weeks after, I read this book. The main character’s name is Daniel, and the song just wouldn’t leave. In fact, there it is again. Sing along with me: Daniel my brother, you are older than me, do you still feel the pain, of the scars that won’t heal, your eyes had dies, but you see more than I, Dan-i-el you’re a star in the fact of the sky…

Also the ending was tremendously bad. As I was finishing the book I was very angry. Unlike the first 90% of the book which was gripping, it was entirely unbelievable and badly executed. It was as if the author had suddenly been taken prisoner by people who wanted a very specific ending and held the author at gunpoint until she wrote it. It may have also been a botched set up for a sequel or a series.

Those two things aside, this was an awesome book. I loved the premise (Daniel can remember all his lives staring in 500 AD and moving forward. He keeps encountering a woman named Sophie throughout history, and he can remember and recognize her, but she does not remember or recognize him) and the book itself was fascinating as it jumped around through time. Even only halfway through reading it, I recommended it to everyone I saw. One person took me up on my recommendation and read it within the week. “I have a bone to pick with you.” she said when she saw me next. She thought it was a horrible ending too. But we both liked everything up until that point and if you like random historical fiction, this is the book for you.

Mary Shelley
Read for Kenton Library Book Group.
I thought I may have read this in the past. It turns out that I had read it, but in the abbreviated classics for children version where there was a picture on the left page and the text on the right.

This is a very sad book. In fact, I would argue that Shelley failed completely at writing a scary story and instead excelled at writing the saddest monster story ever. Still, it’s very easy to read, especially for something written in the early 1800s, and the book group connected it to a lot of modern issues. I found it interesting that there is not much description of the monster, even though most people in the USA, if asked to sketch Frankenstein, would draw a very similar picture. We can thank the movies for that.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie
Hi-lar-i-ous! There is no reason why you shouldn’t read this book as it is smart, funny, short and has great illustrations. It’s an excellent narrative too, expertly crafted to kick you in the stomach in a few different times by someone who knows how to tell a story. For the white readers out there, it’s a good window into poverty and one picture of life on an Indian reservation, which is a rare picture in today’s literature, both adult and YA.

If someone today had written this story and submitted it for publication it would have been summarily rejected. I mean really! Shakespeare pulls all sort of “oh this just happened to happen at just the right moment” moments and the end was a massive coming together of several random ends. I will never forget in Act 5 when Posthumus falls asleep and is visited by his dead father, mother and even the god Jupiter. Really? Interestingly, that scene was done well in the production I saw, with no dialogue, Posthumus asleep on stage, Johnny Cash singing U2’s song “One” and various reunions happening on stage. Sometimes it is best to cut the Bard’s text.

The Last Uncle
Linda Pastan
I liked a lot of these poems, including the title poem (All my uncles have shuffled off center stage) and other poems that I made note of. Sadly, my review did not save when I last saved it and I don’t feel like recreating it. Thanks, blogger.

Nick Hornby
Hornby’s YA novel about a nice 16 year old boy who meets a nice 16 year old girl and they get to doing what some 16 year olds do. And then things happen. As always, Hornby’s astute observations of the life of the average man/boy/woman/girl are spot-on and at times, hilarious. This was a very enjoyable novel.

Why we get fat and what to do about it
G. Taubes
Taubes makes good arguments that some people get to a point where they cannot be of normal weight unless they give up carbohydrates. There’s a lot to digest (Hah!) in this short book, and one of the things I really liked was that the author opened by asking the reader to read the book with a questioning mind and, in more than one place, says what he believes to be true and what science points to, but clearly indicates that more research needs to be done.

Other sacred cows slaughtered along the way: weight management is simply a calories in/calories out exercise; obesity is a problem of the mind, not the body; eating read meat causes higher cholesterol; if you want to lose weight you need to exercise more; a high-fiber, low fat diet is heart healthy.

Those who would like more science or discussion of the above cows can also read the author’s book good calories/bad calories.

Started and did not finish:

I Think I Love You
Allison Pearson
I really was enjoying both main characters, but the feeling of foreboding was too much. I was getting too attached to the main character and was worried that trouble would befall her in the form of “mean girl” bullying and had to send it back. I could be convinced to pick it up again, if someone lets me know otherwise.

Twenties Girl
Sophie Kinsella
This was fluffy, and not what I was in the mood for.

The Complete Guide to Building Your Own Greenhouse
Line drawings and lots of verbal directions to build several kinds of greenhouses.

The Complete Guide to Greenhouses and Garden Projects
Black and Decker
Lavishly illustrated plans and pictures of not only several kinds of greenhouses, but also garden projects including the most beautiful compost bin I’ve ever seen.

One thought on “Books read in April”

  1. Still having reader's block. I hate it. Well done you for all the great reads!

    PS-Yay! I am caught up on your blogs!

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