Friday, June 5, 2009

May reading

I finished an embarrassingly small number of books this month. A mere four. I've started an absurdly large number, enough that the height of the piles on various surfaces in my bedroom is a little mortifying, but I only finished four. Too many wonderful friends visiting. Too many trips to bookstores full of temptation (a warning: if you ever let me take you to my favourite places, you'll fritter a lot of time away in spaces between bookshelves).

The Language of Bees
by Laurie R. King
This is the ninth book in King's Mary Russell series. The first book is The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and I love it so much that I think I've read it at least five times. It's one of the few mysteries that I'll read over and over, even though I know exactly how the puzzle works, just because I enjoy spending time with the characters.
Each of the books has a different flavor, a different focus or particular fascination. This one deals with beekeeping, mystical cults in 1920s England, and surrealist art. It's not one of my favourite books in the series, mostly because the narrative splits up Russell and Homes and they experience most of the case separately, rather than having them gallop through it together; but I still enjoyed it.

The Exchange by Graham Joyce
My friend, Damien, recommended that I try Graham Joyce. This was the only book of his that we had in the store. It's a YA novel and there's so much about it that I like: brilliant, brilliant premise, and a character who is clever, a bit selfish, and tough without being annoying. I was so happy for the first few chapters, and then I got increasingly less happy because the gap between what I wanted to read and what was actually there got larger and larger as the story went on. It's not the story's fault, not really. It was a nice enough book, it just didn't chase down the shadows and byways that I wanted to.

Man and Camel by Mark Strand
I'm a little obsessed with Strand's poetry right now. They feel good to read and they open up little stories in my head. They're like boxes with strange, uncomfortable, light-footed worlds in it. The ones that press on my head most insistently in this collection are "Fire" and "I Had Been A Polar Explorer". You can see some of it here and see Mark Strand reading other poems here.

The Unlikely Disciple
by Kevin Roose
I read this on the recommendation of the fabulous Cressida, who reads more books than I could possibly cram into my head. It was interesting, mostly because it's a guided tour of a world that I find completely alien. Kevin Roose is a student at Brown University who decides to spend a semester at Liberty University, which is an fundamentalist Baptist school in Virginia, and then write about it. I wasn't won over by his writing, but I liked the way he introduced people and experiences, leaving room for both sympathy and understanding. I have to admit that when I think of evangelical Christian culture, it's with absolute bafflement. It seems so smooth and rigid and enclosed, and I've never had any interest in trying to look inside... but this pulled open a tiny window and it was interesting and uncomfortable.

Some books started (+ possibility of reading more)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
(I don't think so. Fell asleep during investigation scene.)
The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
(Possibly. There is a great deal of literary flimflam and quirk in this one, which I find both irritating and peversely attractive.)
Sunnyside by Glen David Gold
(Definitely. I loved Carter Beats the Devil.)
Peace by Gene Wolfe
(Oh yes.)
Trampoline edited by Kelly Link
(Yes. There are some stories that are so strange and discomfitting in this book that I have to imbibe them in small sips.)


Bookgeek said...

Maybe it's in the air. I can't tell you how many books I've started and given up on this month. Came either very highly recommended or with great cover blurbs. Embarrassing really. But the one I LOVED, really loved this month is not by Peter Carey (surprise) but by Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Little vignettes of life in an upper class hotel in Paris, both social criticism and how an encounter with true beauty can change your life.

Megan Kurashige said...

I've been meaning to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog... So, I should? For some reason, the blurbage on the back cover keeps putting me off it...