Book Chat

Reading Log: March 2013

March was a great month for reading!  I hit upon several great books in a row – I think Tiny Beautiful Things might be in my Top 10 List!  I’m hoping to keep the momentum going – it’s such a treat to really relish the snatched moments of reading each day.  (Especially in comparison to books that are more ho-hum and require a slog to reach the last page.)  In fact, reading such a great book has made me wonder why, exactly, I don’t have a personal Top Ten List on this blog.  It seems like something I would do!  So now I’m thinking on that one… and looking at all the A+ books that I’ve read in my reading logs… and there will probably be a post and possibly a new page coming soon!

Speaking of new… I’ve added a new column to my Reading Log!  (I know, I really live on the edge with my exciting hobbies.)  Now I’m keeping track of genre – so there’s a new letter in the righthand column.  Fun stuff!

B/M – Bio/Memoir

C = Craft

CL = Children’s Lit

F = Fiction

HF = Historical Fiction

NF = Non Fiction

SF = Sci-Fi/Fantasy

YA = Young Adult

So here’s my Reading Log for March 2013, 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 (even if I started some of them outside of the month).  And of course I keep track of my rating on the grade system, the binding, genre, etc… just for fun!

March 2013

HB = Hardback, PB = Paperback, AB = Audio book, K = Kindle.
F = Fiction, HF = Historical Fiction, NF = NonFiction, YA = Young Adult,
CL = Children’s Lit, B/M = Bio/Memoir, SF = Sci-Fi/Fantasy, C = Craft

Title Start Finish Grade/
Format
Genre

 

The Silver Linings Playbook,
by Matthew Quick
2/26/13 3/2/13

A+
K

F

Cat Cam: The World of Cooper the Photographer Cat,
by Michael and Deirdre Cross
3/4/13 3/4/13

C+
PB

NF

Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4),
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
3/4/13 3/12/13

A
K

YA

The Paris Wife,
by Paula McLain
3/12/13 3/16/13

A+
K

HF

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar,
by Cheryl Strayed
3/16/13 3/23/13

 

A+
K

NF

Leviathan Wakes,
by James S.A. Corey
3/17/13 Still Listening

TBD

AB

SF

Hattie Big Sky,
by Kirby Larsen
3/26/13 3/31/13

A
K

HF

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making,
by Catherynne M. Valente
3/29/13 Still Reading

TBD
PB

CL

Thoughts:

The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick – A+

The Amateur Librarian // February 2013 Reading Log

Picked this up after loving the movie – and I loved this even more.  Pat Peoples is fresh out of a mental health facility and coping with his new life through a diet of intense exercise and silver linings.   It was hard not to compare the book to the movie, especially the first half, but I appreciate how unique each version is – the book goes so much deeper into Pat’s head, but the other characters aren’t as life-like as the movie’s interpretation.   I was rooting for Pat the whole time, and I loved his view of life – even though it was often off the scale of “normal,” he was also more perceptive and sensitive in other ways. I just really connected with the story, right down to the bittersweet yet hopeful ending.

 …

Cat Cam: The World of Cooper the Photographer Cat, by Michael and Deirdre Cross – C+

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

Cooper the photographer cat has a camera on his collar, and this book collects the images along with a few photography “tips.”  I bought this book as one of Sam’s Christmas presents – a bit of a gag gift since we have a running joke about what we imagine the cats do all day while we’re at work.  But even though it was a silly gift, of course I still expected it to be fun and interesting.  Am I glad I bought the book?  Well, I’m glad that a portion of the proceeds go to an animal shelter.  Because otherwise, this book was not worth the money.  The pictures and book itself were really low quality.  Which is probably to be expected, I guess, when your camera is on a cat colalr– but still, if it’s going to be published then it should be worth publishing.  It was more like one of those photo albums you create yourself – great for the family to look at and enjoy, but it doesn’t really make sense for wide publication.  And the tips were unnecessary – not helpful information, but not funny or cute either.  So… meh.  This was cute, but I wish I hadn’t wasted my money.

 …

Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4), by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – A

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

The end of the Caster Chronicles.  The book was portioned neatly into three distinct parts, which kept the plot moving along with no lull in the middle like the previous books – definitely a nice change.  Everything was wrapped up for each character, with a satisfying bang at the end, and it didn’t feel too rushed.  In all, a nice ending to wrap up the series – and I think I’m done with series for a while!  I don’t like the commitment it entails.  And I have to admit – the movie was a big damper for me.  I really did enjoy the books, but the movie was so god-awful that it was hard to continue with the books after watching it.

 …

The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain – A+

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

I started this book on the heels of Secret Lives of Great Authors (it seems like so many of our “classic” writers hail from this era in time) so I was already primed to delve into the world of ex-pat Paris.  The 1920s always seem like such a desperately poignant time to me – everyone is shattered from the first world war but trying desperately to pretend that it’s all ok.  But when we all know (in hindsight) that it’s about to get worse before it gets better, it just makes the excess seem that much more distressing regrettable.  And those ex-pat writers… I can’t help but admire them, but not in the sense that I would ever want to be in their shoes.  Their lives were much too frantically glib and glittery, scratching for meaning in all the wrong places.  But.  This story of Hadley, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway (so often overlooked, since she’s the first and most ordinary of the four) is intensely personal and relatable.  It makes me sad, though, in many ways – because even then, even though it all happened long ago, she felt hopelessly naïve and old-fashioned… but so many of her troubles are still prevalent today.  I can’t help but see reflections of my own life. Life in Paris in the 1920’s was just as flagrantly pleasure-seeking and indulgent as the worst of our culture today, maybe even more so.  And it just… makes me sad.  But.  (Another but!)  The author makes the story so palatable – so infinitely compelling and authentic, even when it comes to the famous philandering husband who betrays our dear heroine.  It was so utterly convincing that I felt like the characters were real people, not just historical figures or overdone stereotypes.  And obviously, knowing how the story ends before it even starts, I knew from the beginning that I would want to throttle Hemingway by the end – but I still managed to feel empathy for all involved, which certainly speaks to the writing and characterization.  The epilogue was a godsend, because it left me with the peace of knowing it was all ok in the end for Hadley.  This is historical fiction the way it was meant to be written – and enjoyed, most of all.

A word on The Secret Lives of Great Authors from last month’s Reading Log – I read this book right before starting The Paris Wife, and of course Ernest Hemingway had his own bio included.  After reading The Paris Wife, I raced back to  Secret Lives to see what was said about his four wives.  But not a single one was mentioned!  As I flipped through to other Paris-era authors, hardly any of their wives or children were mentioned either.  I know that each bio had to be severely edited to only publicize the most scandalous and odd trivia – but still…  The wives and children are the most interesting part!  Even though I enjoyed the book the first time around,  I’ve become more aware of how sexist it is to completely ignore the familial relationships.

 …

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed – A+

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

I needed a few days before I could start a new book – or be able to sum up my experience reading this book.  I guess I had to mourn the end a bit, because I wanted it to go on forever.  It really was that good.  And how to describe a book whose surface seems so… shallow?  Normal?  Un-swoon-worthy?  I tried to tell Sam how great it was, but the bare bones just can’t explain the brilliance – Dear Sugar is an advice column written by a woman who uses her own life experiences to empathize and advise in a myriad of brilliant and shocking and loving ways.  Have I used the word brilliant enough yet?  Not nearly enough to convey my emotional response to Cheryl Strayed’s honesty.  This is not Dear Abby.  The letters and questions are mundane enough, but it’s the way Sugar answers them that transcends this collection of letters into an entirely different sphere of writing.  Sugar’s life is woven into her answers – and if this wasn’t a real advice column written by real people and answered by a real person, I would consider this book a thrilling new form of memoir.  I guess you could describe Sugar’s message as Radical Empathy, and even when I didn’t agree with her responses entirely, there’s no doubting her integrity.  I cried so many, many times – at the heartbreak, the perseverance, the beauty, the words of wisdom.  And yet – that makes it seem syrupy and sentimental but believe me, it’s inspirational in the most blunt, most candid, most authentic sense of the word.  My words just can’t do it justice, but obviously I Highly Recommend.

 …

Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

Sam and I decided to start listening to audiobooks together – something to add to those nights on the couch, weekend afternoons on the couch, and all those other random moments when we’re just surfing the Internet or doing other mindless activities.  So Sam found this Sci-fi book with good review… pretty good so far, although not the kind of book I would pick out for myself.  It’s fun to “read” a book together, though!

 …

Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larsen – A

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

Wonderful middle grades historical fiction – straightforward writing, great vocabulary, warm characters, interesting time period.  Hattie is an orphan during World War I who is unexpectedly bequeathed a homesteading claim in Montana from her long-lost uncle.  She decides to try it out, even though she’s only sixteen and has never done any sort of farm work before.  It must be admitted that this part was pretty unbelievable, especially since it’s all revealed during the first brief chapter – but if you just go with it, the story is enjoyable.  You can tell the author researched the history thoroughly – from the slang to the product brands to the recipes to every little detail of farm life.   The timing of World War I is an interesting aspect as well – Hattie writes to a school friend who is enlisted overseas, and grapples with the anti-German sentiments that threaten to divide the small farming community she has joined.  The plot is mostly character-driven, with different events over the course of the ten months that Hattie has left to “prove up” on her uncle’s claim.   The story reminded me a lot of Little House on the Prairie, without the covered wagons.  At times it was a little too sentimental for me – but I confess that I shed a few tears from time to time.  I really appreciated the ending – it wasn’t wrapped up in a neat bow, and it seemed realistic yet hopeful.  I wasn’t sure if I was quite invested enough to read the sequel that just came out, but when I heard it was set in San Francisco, how could I not?  Starting tomorrow!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

I gave myself this book for Christmas, and I’m finally starting it.  I’ve heard great things about the author, and so far the writing is superb!  Very interesting and otherworldly so far.

 …

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

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4 thoughts on “Reading Log: March 2013

  1. I read The Silver Linings Playbook this month, thanks to your reference to it in your February reading log. I had never heard of the book or the movie until you posted about it. It was FANTASTIC! I finished it in only two days, and passed it along to my sister. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the movie while it was out in theaters, but really looking forward to renting it when it becomes available. Thanks for the reviews!

    Like

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