Monday, January 31, 2011

reading, of late

I have been lax in keeping track of the books I've consumed in the last few months, but they are, roughly, as follows:

All Clear

by: Connie Willis

Not a sequel as much as the second half of Blackout. I enjoyed the first book more, but since I adored the first book, it's difficult to expect the second one to be quite as scintillating, without the spark of novelty. Still, it was very satisfying, in that particular way that the endings of good stories about time travel are. Details are explained. Separate pieces of the puzzle click into place. Those lost are found, and all the separate threads get smoothed out, braided together, and tied off with a nice, cathartic bow.

The Radleys

by: Matt Haig

I picked up this book because I couldn't resist the terrible cover and the premise, which waivers on the edge between disastrous and brilliant, of suburban familial dysfunction, with vampires. It was entirely better than I expected. Not, probably, something I would read again, but also not something I would dissuade friends from picking up. Which is saying a lot for a novel about vampires in the current environment.

The Silent Land
by: Graham Joyce
(publication: March 2011)

This novel is beautifully written. It's also one of those still, strange stories that aim to produce a certain effect, a sort of isolated and claustrophobic experience inside the characters' heads. It didn't quite touch me, though I can imagine that it might get under other people's skins.

Moonwalking with Einstein
by: Joshua Foer
(publication: March 2011)

I LOVE this book. I enjoyed it so much that I am just going to reproduce the review I wrote for the bookstore here:

This book drove me crazy. I could hardly put it down. It crept into my thoughts and badgered me with the intoxicating, alluring question: what can I remember?

Joshua Foer invites us to join him as he explores the strange world of memory. He digs through research on neurology, history, and culture. He introduces us to savants and eccentrics. He plunges right into the thick of memory techniques and finds himself–in what begins as a fantastic journalistic stunt and grows into a witty study of something universal, extraordinary, and strange–on the hunt for the U. S. Memory Championship. I love this book. It’s saturated with the kind of revelations that explode the mundane and offers them with such humor and intelligence that it’s an absolute pleasure to discover how unfamiliar we are with the contents of our own heads. Seriously, folks, this is my favorite out of all the books I’ve read in the past six months.

And that's that. Sometimes I gloss over little things that bother me, or amplify my affection for a book, but I really did like it that much.

by: Lili Wilkinson

This is a fantastic young adult novel. It has a terrible cover, but please ignore that. It manages that trick of character that puts you in complete sympathy, even when they commit those terrible things that we all do to each other from time to time. It's very funny, intelligent, and completely honest. It manages to do what I wish all stories about relationships could do, which is make you feel like you somehow figured out something about your life when you get to the end.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by: Michael Chabon

I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this. It is absolutely brilliant. It made me cry. All the fame and glowing blurbs on the cover are completely deserved.

Guys Read: Funny Business
edited by: Jon Sczieska

Sczieska is editing a series of books aimed at encouraging reading among the younger, more reluctant male crowd. The table of contents is populated by many extremely famous children's authors, and the pieces range from great to pretty good. Mostly, I am just completely excited about the project in general.

The Emperor of All Maladies
by: Siddhartha Mukherjee

Terrifying. Cancer is a terrifying subject to think about, especially in the company of someone so intimately familiar with the workings of the disease on both a scientific and human level. But this is one of the best books I've read lately. The writing is astonishingly vivid and graceful, and the structure of the book, the simultaneous investigations of both history and current cases, makes it difficult to put down.

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