I have been reading A LOT the past few months, so writing these posts is taking longer! I’m going to have a reads post every week or two to catch up to the present. In March, I read a good dose of sci fi, comics, and non-fiction for my book clubs. I re-read an older favorite and found a new favorite.
Here are the books I read in March:
The Lowland (2013) by Jhumpa Lahiri
This family saga follows brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra and their family from the 1960s Calcutta through war and rebellion to present day America and India.
This is one of the best books I’ve read recently. The language in this novel is absolutely beautiful, with rich, detailed settings that wisked me away and complex, flawed, and haunting characters. I’m excited to pick up Lahiri’s The Namesake next.
The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint (2001) by Brady Udall
Edgar Mint’s head was run over by the mailman when he was seven, and his life gets weirder from there.
Over the past few years, I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite books and writing little essays about them to better understand why I love them so much. This is one of those books; it was recommended to me by my favorite creative writing professor in college. I love it for its amazing coming of age first person point of view, the narrator’s unique outlook on life in the face of tremendous suffering, and the bizarre, creative plot.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2013) by Susan Cain
With a combination of case studies, biology and psychology research, and persuasive argument, Cain focuses on the value of introverts in a society that isn’t listening.
I am an introvert, but I am certainly not quiet, so this was a very interesting read for me. I loved the research and the case studies (the description of Harvard Business School and its impact on America was terrifying) and found myself referencing things I learned from the book often in conversations with friends.
I was annoyed by the perspective presented in a few of the chapters, mainly because I felt that there were missing arguments that led the author to a misleading conclusion in some cases (I’m looking at you, Chapter 8), but this is to be expected in persuasive non-fiction.
Seven Years in Tibet (1952) by Heinrich Harrer
Harrer was a famous mountaineer and Olympic skier. When World War II broke out, he was an Austrian national in India and was detained in an internment camp. This is his first person account of his escape into Tibet, where he learned about the culture, which was closed off to the West, and befriended the Dalai Lama.
This memoir was the selection for my local book club with friends. I found the travel adventures of the author extraordinary, the descriptions of the culture fascinating, and though the author was often ethnocentric, his love and respect for the Tibetan culture was clear. This book also has an important place in history, as it preserves what life was like before the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950.
P.S. My book club friends and I thought this 9 Tricks to Look Smart in Book Club article was funny, and we got a kick out of threatening to use #2 as an excuse, because Harrer was technically a Nazi.
Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline
In 2044, much of the world is in poverty, but there’s an escape: the OASIS, a virtual reality utopia that connects the world. Wade Watts goes to school, meets with friends, and games, all in the OASIS. But his real mission? Unraveling the puzzles left by the creator of OASIS to try to win a contest that would change his life.
This book was in one of our Loot Crate boxes and I’m so very glad it was. I loved it, and I started reading it aloud to Eliza and Jake soon after I finished it (though I’ll have to censor a few parts). It’s good nerdy fun, and all of the 80′s pop culture and gaming culture references are just the best.
Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert
On the desert planet Arrakis, the newly ruling Atreides family must navigate traitorous plots against them to remain in control of one of the universe’s most valuable resources.
I love sci fi and this is a science fiction classic, so it’s been on my to-read list for quite some time. I thought the world-building was amazing–the cultures created are so complex–but I’m not a huge fan of the writing style. There’s way too much showing rather than telling. The author over-explains what characters are thinking instead of letting their actions speak for themselves. And the blatant foreshadowing just seems like a cop-out for a predictable plot. I still liked it enough to want to know what happens next in the series, so I picked up the next few books in April and May.
The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories (2011) by R. A. Salvatore
Read by an all-star cast, including Felicia Day, Tom Felton, Wil Wheaton, and Ice-T, this audiobook gathers short stories from The Legend of Drizzt, which were previously published in anthologies and magazines.
I think that these stories might be confusing for those not familiar with the series, but they provide some fun backstory for fans of Salvatore’s work.
The Walking Dead Compendium, Volume 1 (2009) by Robert Kirkman (Author), Charlie Adlard (Illustrator), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator), Tony Moore (Illustrator)
Collecting the first eight volumes of The Walking Dead, issues #1-48, this series follows the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.
I first read this in August 2012, so you can read my thoughts there.
*On the comics front, I also read Spider-man and the X-men #1, the Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special one shot, and a few Gambit issues from the ’90s.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Make sure to put a big SPOILERS warning in your comment to warn others if you have ‘em.
Reading anything good lately?
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