In my effort to keep track of my reading, here are February’s books. It was a good month. Andy getting sick gave me some time to read that I hadn’t planned on this month. For some reason, he didn’t like me sitting by his side watching him sleep and be sick. He’s back among the living now and we’ve got some catching up to do – I don’t see a whole lot of free reading time for me this month.
Old Filth, by Jane Gardam I really enjoyed this book. It’s very British and parts are very funny in that quirky English way. It’s the story, told in flashbacks, of Sir Edward Feathers, aka Old Filth. Filth stands for Failed-in-London-Try-Hong-Kong. It takes you through his life as a “raj orphan” up through his old age. It’s one of those books where you think you know what’s coming next and you’re always wrong. This one is definitely not a book to judge by its cover – is it just me or is that the ugliest book cover ever?
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane This is one Andy and I managed to get through before he got sick. I have not read this one since high school. It’s definitely a different read when you have kids the ages of the ones described in the book.
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer This was unexpectedly good. It’s the story of what? The setting is the beginning of WWII and takes you through the Holocaust from the perspective of Hungarian work camps (which I had never even heard of). It’s a love story. It’s a very human look at what people can be – good and bad. The story sucks you in and keeps you reading. Once you’re done, the characters will keep popping back into your mind. I was looking for an easy escape kind of book and came away surprised at how much more there was to it.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
I still don’t know what I thought of this book. It’s gripping and weird and sad at the same time. It’s the story of a group of heros on leave from Iraq. The main setting of the book is the group’s afternoon as a guest of the Dallas Cowboys and those sections of the book are particularly riveting. There are some flashbacks and a few looks into the homelife of one of the heros, 19-year-old Billy Lynn. It did not find the book to be as funny as many of the reviewers at Amazon did – absurd, yes – funny, not so much. There are lots of comparisons to Catch 22. I would not go there, but your mileage may vary. It’s definitely worth a read.
Room by Emma Donoghue I have had this sitting on my shelf for nearly a year. I really could not get in the mood to read what seemed like an incredibly depressing book. The story of a 5 year-old boy and his mother who live in a single room, held by a lunatic. The books is written from the perspective of the boy. WOW! The subject matter is certainly disturbing, but there’s a lot of hope in the story too. I finished this book in one sitting (I did get up to give Andy Advil and Gatorade very so often). It’s one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. I think it works so well because it is told from the little boy’s point-of-view. This one will stay with me for a long time. I just hope no one tries to make it a movie.
The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce & Selected Stories by James M. Cain
My brother lent this book to me before Christmas and I’ve had it on my nightstand since then. I’ve seen the old movies and liked them, but could not really muster up the interest to read them until now. I’m so glad I did – sorry I doubted you, Matt! These stories are so dark, but so fun. The writing is sparse but just enough. I was surprised at the differences between the movies and the books, too.
Swansong by Robert McCammon I listened to this book. It had great reviews on audible and I really like the reader, Grover Gardner. I wasn’t disappointed by the story of a post-apocalyptic world. The characters are memorable and the story is well written. If you’re willing to suspend belief and just be taken along, it’s a great audio book – long, but worth it.
The Victim by Saul Bellow This was another audio book that I listened to during February. Asa Leventhal is the central character in this story. I couldn’t helped but be dragged along as Leventhal is manipulated both by himself and others. I loved the setting, New York in the late 40’s and the little details about life during this time period. It also give you a taste of what it was to be Jewish during this time period as well. There are parts of the book where I found myself wanting to shake various characters, but overall, this was another good listen.