I read a lot. I like great literature. I am fascinated by stories.
Most of my reading now is done with audiobooks on my iPod while I am out walking. I call it walking my iPod, just as some people walk their dogs.
I do participate in one book club, a unique one, involving my daughter and her husband. I note these books below with Julie and Tom in a parenthesis. We decide on a book, spend a couple of months reading it, and then we get together on FaceTime for a discussion. We have been doing this now for over seven years and have read and discussed together over thirty books. I described this book club in an earlier post.
When I finish a book I try to categorize it into one of the seven basic plots from Christopher Booker’s tome of that title. These categorizations are noted below in parentheses.
Also when I finish a book, if I deem it worthy, I write a review on Goodreads. If it is really good, I do a more extensive review and post in here on my blog. Of the thirty books I read this year, nine of them made this status, and each such title below is linked to that review.
***The Time in Between by Maria Duenas (Voyage and Return)
I tried hard to like this book, but in the end I was put off by what I viewed as a “chick flick” book. It is a woman’s story written for women and loaded with details I feel only a woman could appreciate.
I was also put off by the Nancy Drew quality of the main character’s escapades, albeit an adult Nancy Drew in Spain.
The story was basically good, a thriller, and in the end, when she finally got to it, a spy story, which I do enjoy.
But for me it bogged down in all of those details about dresses and fabrics and similar things.
***The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud (Quest or Tragedy) (Julie and Tom)
An interesting premise, but somewhat tedious in the implementation, in my humble opinion.
**** The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot (Biography, polemic)
****The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Overcoming the Monster+)
****The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Tragedy)
****Justine by Lawrence Durrell (Tragedy)
****I Had To Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling To Save Lives by Roberto Canessa and Pablo Vierci (Autobiography)
****Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell (Tragedy)
****A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (Autobiography) (Julie and Tom)
****Mountolive by Lawrence Durrell (Tragedy)
****Life’s Greatest Secret by Matthew Cobb (Non-fiction)
*** Booked To Die by John Dunning (Mystery)
*****Clea by Lawrence Durrell (Voyage and Return)
****When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Autobiography)
****The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Tragedy)
***The Precipice by Paul Doiron (Mystery)
*****Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (Tragedy)
***The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (Mystery)
*****LaRose by Louise Erdrich (????Redemption)
I have read several of Louise Erdrich’s novels and thought each of them was good, good enough that I looked forward to reading her latest.
I have not been disappointed. In fact I think this is her most accomplished novel yet. The story is unique, the characters are well drawn and varied. There is a bit of what others might call magical realism and there is humor. I’m sorry to see this reading experience end.
***** World Without End by Ken Follett (Overcoming the Monster)
Christopher Booker asserts, in The Seven Basic Plots, that every story, whether it be a myth, a novel, or a movie, can be characterized in terms of one of seven basic plots: overcoming the monster, rags to riches, voyage and return, tragedy, comedy, the quest, and rebirth. In my experience this generally holds true, except in the case of a novel like this one. To state the obvious it is an epic, but I would like to clarify why I characterize it as such. By Booker’s classification its overarching plot is overcoming the monster, actually several monsters—Priors and Earls to be specific, but within this overall story there are several subplots involving rags to riches, voyage and return, tragedy, comedy, quest, and rebirth. To my mind that kind of inclusiveness makes it an epic, a novel of magnificent proportions.
****Train Dreams by Denis Johnson X 2 (Tragedy)(Julie and Tom)
****Napoleon: A Life by Anthony Roberts (Biography)
****Napoleon’s Last Island by Thomas Keneally (Tragedy)
****Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Brian Stevenson (Non-Fiction)
****The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
***Hornet Flight by Ken Follett (Quest)
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys on the international scene!
Lightweight and predictable.
I expected more from Ken Follett.
****News of the World by Paulette Jones (Quest)
****The Whistler by John Grisham (Overcoming the Monster/Quest)
****Libra by Don DeLillo (Quest)