I’ve decided to try and keep better track of what I’ve read this year. Since January is nearly over, I figured now is as good a time to start as any. During January, I’ve read or listened to the following books. You can take my opinions as just that opinions. 😉
Absent Friends, S.J. Rozan I listened to this book. I liked the reader quite a bit and that’s the only reason I stuck with the book. Maybe it was just me being grumpy about doing the laundry or whatever, but I really did not enjoy this convoluted story of childhood friends, now middle-aged, in a post 9/11 world. By the end I was hoping something terrible and permanent would happen to all of them. Amazon says 4 stars, so don’t let me stop you; just consider yourself forewarned.
Beginner’s Goodbye, Anne Tyler
My mom gave me this book as a Christmas gift. I am a longtime fan of Anne Tyler and this book did not disappoint! She always gives you weird characters who kind of grow on you. The story about a recent widower and how he learns to start over is funny, weird and touching. It’s a tiny book – great if you need something for an afternoon.
Dark Places, Gillian Flynn This was another Christmas gift. My brother gave me three of Flynn’s novels knowing that I enjoy the weird and scary side of fiction sometimes. Well, this book was certainly dark and sad and definitely strange, but I really enjoyed it. Flynn is a great storyteller. I haven’t decided whether I think she’s a tremendous writer or not, but she can certainly keep you in your seat!
Ghost Road Blues, Jonathan Maberry This was another audio book. I listened to this while I was painting Andy’s room last week. I dunno. I wish I had known it was part of trilogy when I started it. But, it was spooky and different and kept me painting. The story was based in a small Pennsylvania town, but it really felt like a Southern scary story to me. I am not desperate to read the next two books (whenever they are available) but I’m not averse to it either.
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens I am reading this for the first time in a LONG time while Andy reads. I had forgotten how much I love the story of Pip, Mrs. Havisham and the snotty Estella! It’s extra-fun to read this with Andy, especially because Andy is enjoying it too!
Sharp Edges, Gillian Flynn Yes, I could not resist reading another of her books. :::shudder:::: This book is not terribly long, but it took me a long time to get through. I found it to be extremely disturbing and scary. I had to keep putting it down and walking away from it. (It did not help that I started this book in the oral surgeon’s office while Dan was having his wisdom teeth pulled. The story revolves around a serial killer who has a signature to his crimes – he pulls out their teeth. I switched to Good Housekeeping.) But, it was a compelling enough story to keep me reading through to the bitter, bitter end. I would hesitate to recommend this book to someone who I did not know for a fact gravitated to dark fiction. (My brother read the book in one sitting. He did not find it nearly as disturbing as I did although he recognized what bothered me.)
The Postmistress, Sarah Blake I wanted to love this book. There were sections that were beautifully written. But, there were parts of the book where I wanted to shout “Tell me more!” It was hard to understand why some of the characters were doing what they did. The end felt rushed and a bit like it was written under a deadline. Still, though, if I had a book club, I would recommend it. There’s lots in the book that makes you stop and think and wonder, “What would I do?” It would be fun to have a group discussing it as I imagine you would have multiple reactions.
What Dies in Summer, Tom Wright This is the second audiobook that got me through painting Andy’s room (Scraping the popcorn off of the ceiling made this a much bigger and longer job than I had originally planned.) Amazon describes this book as a Southern Gothic coming-of-age novel. Okay, I won’t disagree. But, don’t let that description put you off. The story/mystery is okay – although if I can guess a mystery, it’s probably not much of a mystery. But the writing is really beautiful in some sections and the characters are interesting and quirky and memorable. This is one of those books I wish I had read first rather than listened to – I would have liked the chance to go back over certain sections. The reader is not my favorite reader ever, but he kind of grows on you the longer you listen. *Definitely NOT a book for a family car trip*
On my night table for next month (so far, anyway):
Old Filth, Jane Gardam (I started this this afternoon and so far, I am really enjoying it.)
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (The last of my Christmas threesome)
The Red Badge of Courage (with Andy)
The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain
The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal