Book Chat

Reading Log: July 2012

It’s time for another monthly update on my Reading Log!  I really can’t believe July is over already–where has the summer gone??  If I were still a school librarian, I’d be gearing up for the start of school year.  Can’t say I miss that end-of-summer feeling, although the working-all-summer-long isn’t exactly fun either.  Oh well, it is what it is!

I read a lot of great books this month, and they all had a summery feeling.  Like what you would want to read at summer camp, or on the beach, or late into the night because there’s no reason to wake up .  The kind of books you wake up early to read, even if you’ve been up late the night before.  Funny how reading habits change with the season.

So here’s my Reading Log for July 2012, with my thoughts about each book to help me remember what I read.  I’ve included all the books that I’ve read or finished during the month of July (even if I started some of them outside of the month).  Plus I like to rate the books I read on the grading system and keep track of the binding.  Don’t ask why… I just like my statistics at the end of the year 🙂

July 2012

HB = Hardback, PB = Paperback, AB = Audio book, K = Kindle.

Title Start Finish Grade/
Format
The Art of Fielding,
by Chad Harbach
6/28/12 7/4/12

A
K

Wife 22: A Novel,
by Melanie Gideon
7/5/12 7/7/12

A
K

Wool,
by Hugh Howey
7/7/12 7/8/12

A+
K

Proper Gauge: Wool Part 2,
by Hugh Howey
7/8/12 7/10/12

B+
K

Casting Off: Wool Part 3,
by Hugh Howey
7/10/12 7/12/12

A
K

The Unraveling: Wool Part 4,
by Hugh Howey
7/13/12 7/16/12

A+
K

The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72,
by Molly Peacock
7/14/12 Still Reading

TBD
PB

The Stranding: Wool Part 5,
by Hugh Howey
7/16/12 7/20/12

A+
K

Rilla of Ingleside,
by L.M. Montgomery
7/18/12 7/26/12

A+
AB

Crossed,
by Ally Condie
7/20/12 7/27/12

B+
K

Mothership,
by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal
7/27/12 Still Reading

TBD
K

Thoughts:

The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

Book club pick for July; Kate is moving and she read it without the group so it’s been off the table, but we chose it in her honor.  On the surface, this book is about baseball: about talent and training and what happens when one wrong move starts a chain reaction that completely changes your life.  But it’s really about youth, and aging, and relationships, and how it all connects.  It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed reading a straightforward adult fiction novel, no historical or fantasy or dystopian slant, just plain upfront realistic fiction.  Baseball and sports are not really my thing, but quirky characters and unexpected plot twists and literary allusions and musings on life are definitely up my alley.  So, in a nutshell, I really liked this book.  I wouldn’t call it a favorite, or re-read-worthy, but it was definitely distinctive and appreciated.

Wife 22: A Novel, by Melanie Gideon

Alice is lonely and bored, 20 years into marriage, and she’s reached her tipping-point year—the age at which her mother died.  So she signs up to take an anonymous marriage survey and some predictable problems arise… and even though I should have seen the twist coming at the end, it was very satisfying and cleverly done.  Quick and funny, while still touching on real emotion.  I really enjoyed the mixed-media additions–the Facebook statuses, Google searches, text messages.  And I loved Alice’s interactions with her kids, although the relationship with her husband didn’t make sense until the end.  Sometimes I’m too susceptible to the moods of a book, and this was one of those times–when Alice was dissatisfied, I felt that way too; when she was hopeful, I was too.  Maybe that’s the sign of a good book?  In the middle, I wasn’t sure where this book was going, but the ending was spectacularly romantic and perfect.  Very enjoyable summer read.

Wool, by Hugh Howey

Brief and poignant short story about a post-apocalyptic society, in which humans have burrowed underground to avoid the toxicity of Earth’s ruined surface.  The ending packed a neat punch of a twist.  Sam has been into science fiction recently, and needled me until I had time to read this.  Glad I did, a departure from my normal choices but enjoyable to read outside my box.  I didn’t see how there could be more, but apparently there was such a demand that the author wrote five more parts and now the movie rights have been bought.  So now on to the next!

Proper Gauge: Wool Part 2, by Hugh Howey

Picked up from Part 1 but through a different perspective.  I almost wish the author had left off the last scene; it would have been so much more chilling to cut it off at the twist and leave a few questions unanswered.  Especially since it looks like Part 3 picks up with the same storyline, making it more like a continuous novel than a series of standalone novellas.  The post-apocalyptic subterranean world is definitely interesting, and the relationships and political struggles completely believable.  I think that’s what I like about reading lots of different fiction—from Jane Austen to dystopian societies—the human condition is still recognizable (in the hands of good writers).  Now on to Part 3!

Casting Off: Wool Part 3, by Hugh Howey

Now the story has really come into its own, and I’m really into it.  The scope has broadened, mysteries are unfolding and questions are answered.  The characters are believable and the plot is thickening.  I really like the protagonist, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next… I still wouldn’t call myself a sci-fi fan, but I do appreciate a thought-provoking plot.  I’ve read a review in which the author calls this “speculative fiction,” so maybe I like this genre.

The Unraveling: Wool Part 4, by Hugh Howey

I’ve been amazed at the range of this work, watching the progress unfold from one part to the next as the scope has broadened.  From part 1 to part 4, the perspective has grown from one constricted experience to many different angles.  To recap in my head: Wool 1 was the start of it all, a spark that seemed to stand alone but instead ignited a fire; Wool 2 was still pretty narrow in focus, involving three characters affected by the spark; Wool 3 broadened its scope as the mysteries of the underground silo were acknowledged; Wool 4 was full-fledged intrigue, as all the components came together and the fire spread into chaos.  Each part is distinct, and each part of the journey gets better and more suspenseful as more is revealed.  Finished this part on my lunch break and was dying for 5 PM so I could start on the final part!

The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, by Molly Peacock

Still reading.  Very interesting biography of the woman who invented paper collages.  She’s famous for the flowers on black background—like the one on the cover, I never thought anything of who made them but if you saw one, you’d know instantly what I was talking about.  Written by a poet, and she brings her own interpretation and her own life story into the biography.  I like the way she breathes life into a 17th century woman, but I’m not always so sure about the way she analyzes certain things.  She tends to assume Mrs. Delany’s art expresses all manner of things about the artist’s life, especially her sexuality—and I’m just not sure I’m convinced.  Like sitting in Lit class and wondering if the author really meant everything the teacher is expounding upon.  Does a hole in a flower leaf really reflect how Mrs. Delany felt when she was effectively sold into marriage as a teenager?  But it is a good biography, so far, and not dry at all.

The Stranding: Wool Part 5, by Hugh Howey

Everything escalated and fell apart and came together and wrapped up.  At times it was almost too overwhelming, when everything seemed to be disintegrating and three different storylines were unraveling. Each part built upon the last one, and this final part really brought everything full circle.  The ending was very satisfying, and overall Wool was a thrilling story about the dangers of trying to control humanity.

Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery

Discovered the Project Gutenberg audiobook app!  Free audiobooks for books written pre-1937, recorded by volunteers.  Great narrator, although there were glitches with the app.  I guess you can’t expect much for free, but it was still frustrating—the chapters were recorded separately, and not arranged in order, some would cut off for no reason, some parts were inexplicably abridged, and although you can pause a recording you can’t rewind.  So if you get interrupted and stop or miss one part, the only way to listen to it again is to start at the beginning of the chapter.

But that has nothing to do with the book itself!  I’ve read and re-read this book so many times, I view it as an entirely stand-alone book and not just as the 8th in the Anne series.  Anne of Green Gables is still there, of course, but this story focuses on her youngest daughter who is 15 when Canada enters World War I.

This might be—dare I say it—my favorite book.  Of all the books.  Big words, I know, but I go back to it time and again, and I always love it.  The characters, the plot, the descriptions, it’s all wonderfully heartbreaking.  I’m always impressed that the family members follow the war so closely—they follow the troops’ progress, hoist the flag or groan when cities are taken by the Huns or defended by the Allies.  I guess the absence of our modern-day media frenzy made it easier to focus—with no radio, no TV, no internet, all their news comes from the daily newspaper.  And so while they learn the European cities and names of the world leaders, they don’t hear from weeks at a time where their own children are located as soldiers or what they’ve been doing.  Even if the information is incorrect or misleading, at least they’re aware of it.  It seems like there’s such a bombardment of information these days that it’s easier to tune it out and be completely oblivious.

So, in a nutshell, I love this book.  And it will always be the best war-time book I’ve ever read.

Crossed, by Ally Condie

This is the 2nd of the Match trilogy—I’m usually not a big fan of the 2nd book in a trilogy, the story never seems strong enough to stand on its own between the beginning and the end.  But I liked the main characters from the first book, and they all deepened and matured in this sequel.  Cassia has left her perfect Society in search of the boy she fell in love with, even though he wasn’t “matched” to her as part of the Society’s plan to control and monitor all citizens.  Her journey becomes more significant as she travels further from the civilization she’s always known and sees what happens to those who are considered undesirable.  This book was all about the journey, like a lot of second books in trilogies are.  It can get tiresome, although I liked the back and forth perspectives of Cassia and her love interest Ky.  And of course there’s a love triangle with Society boy Xander, who may be more complex than we were led to believe in the first book.  Nothing really happens until the end, and then what does happen keeps you just intrigued enough for the third book.  But even though I hate it when the entire plot consists of travelling from one place to another, and especially when a book feels like it’s just filler to bridge the gap between the first and third books, I became a lot more invested in the characters during this novel.  The love story seemed real and I liked the emphasis on poetry that kept the tone ethereal during the trudge of travel.  I will definitely be reading the final book when it comes out in November.

Mothership, by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Still reading.  Sassy, snarky, hilarious.  You can’t possibly take it seriously, but it’s highly entertaining.  Basic plot so far: It’s the future.  Main character Elvie is a pregnant teen, sent to a school for expectant mothers.  In outer space.  Then the ship is attacked and what!  The teachers ae actually aliens!  With an evil plan for the unborn children!  Yep.  Like I said, you can’t take it too seriously, but it is so  hilarious.

So that’s what I’ve been reading during the month of July.  Anyone else reading a good book?

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3 thoughts on “Reading Log: July 2012

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