Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Reviews: What I Read This Summer.

Here's a quick rundown of what I've picked up and liked this summer during our faithful weekly trips to the library:

1. The Art of Racing in the Rain: story of a family told from the point of view of the dog. Quick, soulful, and touching.

2. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King: I love King and this didn't disappoint. Four short stories all with the common thread of the stranger within us. The stories are dark, so dark they are almost funny in spots, and superbly written.

3. Little Heathens: A memoir written by a woman who lived as a girl in rural Iowa during the Great Depression. It gives a vivid description of everyday life; activities, food, farming, chores, and school are all discussed and explained at length. Not the best written book I've ever read, but pretty interesting.

4. House Rules by Jodi Piccoult: Solid book from a well-loved author. This was about an 18 year old boy with Aspergers' who is accused of murder. Each chapter was told from the point of view of a different character, which I like.

5. World Made by Hand and The Witch of Hebron, both by James Howard Kunstler: Go to the library TODAY and get out these books. They tell a story of the near future in which our society- government, media, institutions, everything- has collapsed due to world events and all imports have stopped. That means no oil, no cars, no trains, no planes. Electricity is at first spotty and then ceases to come on all together. Medicine is scarce and antibiotics have disappeared, and a Mexican virus has swept through most towns, effectively halving the population. How does life go on? What does it look like? The story takes place in a small village just north of here, and there are many local landmarks mentioned, and focuses on how people learn new skills and learn to work together to re-form a community. It's like living in the 1800's but with the knowledge of what you COULD have and what you doing without. The Witch of Hebron is a sequel (and I didn't like it quite as much because it was a little more far-fetched and science-fiction-y, but it was interesting) and I am hoping for another book to come out as well.

The books are reasonably well-written, with a few hiccups here and there, but I was completely mesmerized by the idea of going back to that way of life. I was also pretty terrified about what skills I do and don't have that would help my family survive. I read this book a few weeks ago and it has really stuck with me. I think the author wrote a non-fiction book, The Long Emergency, warning about how this could happen and then wrote this fictionalized account of how it would all play out. Really, really interesting.

6. Lincoln Lawyer: Really good story about an attorney who practices out of his Lincoln and defends a man whom he firsts thinks is guilty, then is convinced he's actually innocent. Lots of twists and turns. So good I had Dan read it after me.

7. Books I passed on... Atlas Shrugged: I looked for this for weeks in my library, and then when I saw it was about 1000 pages long, I put it back. It's summer, after all. The other book I meant to read was The Great Gatsby but it's always checked out of my library. I also checked out Finn and couldn't get past the first 5 pages.

Have you read anything lately that you loved?


Anonymous said...

It appears that you have read some great stuff this summer. I am reading Every Last One that you loaned me and I am really enjoying that but the story is so sad (but I love that!). Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

PW and I loved "House Rules" too...also "The Help". Carrie suggested "Water for Elephants" and "Nefertiti".....both were great, I thought! I just read a new (to me) author....David fiction....that I enjoyed. What would I have done without a stack of good books when we were out of power for 3 days...thanks, Irene! Love, LW