I started this post the morning before the fire. It was last saved at 10:42am on August 12, 2010. Don’t you just love details like that? I am really into noticing dates and times for remembrances. I was born at 2:22am in 1972 and every time I glance at the clock at that time or have a purchase that comes up all twos (one did just this week), I have a little smile with God about ‘my’ number.
I planned to do a little review of all the fun books I read this summer. I wrote about King’s On Writing on the 12th and hoped to add a book a day until I finished the list and then post them. I was looking forward to adding my favorite quotes and things and noting which books I’d save and which were going back to Half-Priced Books. As it turns out, none of them are. The good news is that I actually got to finish all but one of them before the fire. I’m really thankful. Kyle gave me a coffee mug years ago that he brought me from the library of congress. It had a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “I cannot live without books.” I couldn’t agree more.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my reading. Maybe you’ll find a few titles you want to add to your own list.
On Writing by Stephen King
I’d heard a number of people saying this was a simple, lucid, really good book on the art of writing. I knew King was a great storyteller. This book did not disappoint. It had me laughing out loud throughout. King offered lots of straightforward tips on just about every aspect of writing. He was encouraging and empowering to would-be writers. I loved learning about his childhood, his love and respect for his wife, and how he started writing. And the bonus was that I learned he was in a rock-n-roll band with Amy Tan and Robert Fulghum (among others). Who knew? (Disclaimer: It’s Stephen King. The language is rated R).
Rating: 4 ½ stars
Favorite Bits: “I don’t want to speak too disparagingly of my generation (actually I do, we had a chance to change the world and opted for the Home Shopping Network instead)” (p. 62).
“…put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around” (p. 101).
“There have been times when for me the act of writing had been a little act of faith, a spit in the eye of despair…Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life” (p. 249).
Verdict: I’ll go back to this one. Keeper.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Unlike many, I actually didn’t love this book. I am still hoping to see the musical at some point. The book was so very dark and creepy. I was sympathetic to the Witch but found most of the other characters boring or inane (especially Dorothy when she finally showed up on the scene). Her parents were both horrible. The ending seemed far too abrupt to me.
Rating: 2 ½ stars
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Loved this one. It was wonderful to read of the courage and grace of the two women. They are without choices in many ways but—against all odds—they unite in friendship and even almost as mother and daughter. The ending is probably unrealistic but I loved it. It made me thankful to be a woman in this country and all the more prayerful and compassionate for women who haven’t had the myriad privileges and opportunities women like me have been afforded. The world is a strange place and life is definitely not fair. Only God knows why my daughter and I got to be born here while women are born and raised in ways similar to Mariam and Laila all over the world.
Rating: 4 ½ stars
The Valkeryies by Paulo Coelho
I had high hopes for this book after enjoying The Alchemist some years ago. This tale has the same sense of wonder and wisdom but is written as a true story. More than a few events, how shall I put this, ‘strain credibility.’ Maybe there is symbolism that I just didn’t get. Either way, I was left confused and dissatisfied.
Rating: 1 ½ stars
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Foer’s writing is magical. I liked this book much better than Everything Is Illuminated. It is about a remarkable boy who is searching for a connection with the memory of his beloved father who was killed in the twin towers on September 11th. It is a tragic but lovely story of a family learning to live again after unspeakable loss.
Rating: 4 stars
[I’ll review the remaining four books in an upcoming post. They include The Sparrow and The Road which (spoiler alert) both get a full five star rating.]