Book Chat

Reading Log: August 2013

Another month has come and gone.  This summer has just flown by, and I’ve enjoyed quite a few really memorable books, August included!  I haven’t spent as much time reading at home this month, but my daily commute is a lifesaver for keeping my mind entertained.  Last week I was magically given a couple hours of uninterrupted reading time… at jury duty!  Hey, I’ll take what I can get.  There was an ebook sale on Amazon a couple weekends ago, so I stocked up on some books I’ve been wanting to read for $2.99 or less.  I have another round  of flights in a couple weeks when I head back South for a friend’s wedding, so I’m looking forward to another marathon reading session.

Below is my Reading Log for August 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!

August 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 
Just Like Family: Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents they Work for, and the Children they Love,,
by Tasha Blaine
7/4/13 8/25/13

B+

NF

Divergent,
by Veronica Roth
7/22/13 8/2/13

C+

YA

Georgiana Darcy’s Diary: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Continued,
by Anna Elliot
8/2/13 8/6/13

A

HF

The Unknowns: A Novel,
by Gabriel Roth
8/6/13 8/16/13

A

F

The Little Prince,
by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
8/8/13 8/8/13 

A

CL

The Book of Lost Things,
by John Connolly
8/16/13 8/26/13

A+

F

4:50 from Paddington,
by Agatha Christie
8/27/13 8/30/13

A

Mystery

The End of Your Life Book Club,
by Will Schwalbe
8/28/13 Still Reading

TBD

B/M

Thoughts:

Just Like Family: Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents They Work for, and the Children they Love, by Tasha Blaine – B+

The Amateur Librarian // Reading Log: July 2013

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, but I added it to my Wish List on Paperbackswap.com quite a while ago… probably 2008 or so, because I know it was while I was still babysitting full time in college.  I finally pulled it off the shelf in an effort to make a dent in my To-Read list that travelled with me to SF.  This nonfiction book follows three different nannies and their experiences – Claudia is a single mother in Brooklyn, Vivian is a professional Nanny of the Year, and Kim is trapped in a live-in position with a controlling employer.  I think I would’ve been more absorbed if I had read it when I was still working with children, as it was it took me a while to get through it.  At times, it was hard to tell what the focus was supposed to be – the author rarely added statistics or facts about the industry and never professed any opinions about the ups and downs that the nannies and their employers experience.  I guess it was just a portrait of three different women, and you’re left to draw your own conclusions about their stories and what it means as a potential employer, employee, or bystander.  Now that I’m a bystander (not a parent and no longer in a childcare profession), I feel… still conflicted, I guess, about both sides… but I have to admit that at this point in my life it’s just not as relevant to me anymore.  I will probably never be in the position where I can afford a full-time nanny, and I don’t think I would want to even if I could.  Interesting read, but not quite as compelling as I’d hoped.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth – C+

The Amateur Librarian // Reading Log: July 2013

The Divergent movie is coming out next year, and this summer seemed like the perfect time to read the series.  Another YA dystopian novel – this time society is divided into 5 factions known for their virtues: Abnegation = Selflessness, Dauntless = Bravery, Candor = Honesty, Erudite = Knowledge, and Amity = Goodwill.  Just like Hogwarts, except instead of going to school, 16-year-olds have to choose which faction to belong to for the rest of their lives, leaving family behind if they choose a different faction from the one they grew up with.  Tris, the main character, grows up in Abnegation but finds out she is “divergent”… which means she doesn’t belong in any one faction.  So she chooses Dauntless at her ceremony, which I really had trouble relating to… it just seemed like a really violent and ruthless group of people, and it seemed like a juvenile choice solely for plot development.  Nothing about her character seemed to suggest she would do well there…  but maybe that’s more of a criticism of why in the world a teenager would have to choose in one instant how to spend the rest of their lives.  Or why adults would ever go along with a Five Faction structure in the first place.  But then, that’s the entire structure of this particular dystopian world, so you have to just go with it.

I know I shouldn’t compare this book to Hunger Games… but it’s hard not to, especially since it felt so lacking in comparison.  I just wasn’t impressed.  Another dystopian society, another YA girl main character who is strong and smart except when it comes to seeing her own strengths (gag… I’m so tired of that trope), but none of the life-or-death tension or raw suspense.  There was too much unnecessary violence and the first half felt like one really long training montage where Tris becomes good at fighting and finds out why being “divergent” is so dangerous.  The action picks up in the last few chapters, but it was just too little too late.  I didn’t care about the characters enough.  I really wanted to like this and get hooked on a new series… but I don’t think I’ll continue with the next book.  I’ll wait for the reviews on the movie… this seems like one of those instances when the movie might be better than the book!

Georgiana Darcy’s Diary: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Continued, by Anna Elliot – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2013 Reading Log

I picked up this light read for 99 cents on Amazon, and it was worth it!  Of course there have been tons of “Pride and Prejudice Continued” stories and some are better than others, but this one was just plain fun.  The author didn’t try to imitate Jane Austen’s writing style or language, which was a relief, and instead wrote diary entries from the point of view of Mr. Darcy’s shy younger sister, Georgiana.  There were plenty of anachronisms and modern themes that would never be included in Austen’s novels (PTSD, anyone?  Or how about Georgiana’s immediate acceptance of a gay character in one scene and never another mention of it).  Despite the flaws, I really enjoyed Georgiana’s perspective and getting a glimpse of Lizzy and Fitzwilliam after marriage.  If anything, that was the worst part – there wasn’t more of Lizzy and her family.  The love story was sweet and the fleshed out versions of Anne de Bourgh and Caroline Bingley were very entertaining.  Even though it wasn’t great literature (and I don’t feel the need to read the next in the series), it’s always fun to escape into Austen’s world again… makes me want to pull out one of her novels for another re-read.

 …

The Unknowns: A Novel, by Gabriel Roth – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2013 Reading Log

Recommended by a family friend whose husband’s publishing company just released this title.  Narrated from the point of view of a twenty-something guy as he navigates the San Francisco social world after selling a dot-com startup.  The writing was stunning, witty and fun to read… I especially enjoyed the narrator’s calculated approach to social interactions.  Although it was implied early on that that the love story was doomed, I couldn’t help but hope the outcome would be different… but then the plot took on an unexpected focus about halfway through the book which totally changed the tone.  I felt like the ending was a bit abrupt, and I’ve been trying to decide if that’s a good thing or not… the brevity was slightly unsatisfying, but at the same time it was definitely thought-provoking and engrossing the entire time.   I just want to know more about who these characters turned into, and what happened next… I think I’ve decided that the ending was a good thing, like a TV show that gets cancelled at its peak instead of petering out into irrelevancy.  I’ve been pestering Sam to read this ever since I finished it – it’s one of those books I would love to talk over with someone else.  One warning: I definitely had to use my Kindle dictionary quite a few times with all the uncommonly fancy words.

 …

The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2013 Reading Log

I love sad, otherworldly fairy tales and this definitely fits the bill.  I’ve always heard of The Little Prince, but I had no idea it was a tale about a prince from a tiny planet who consoles a wrecked pilot in the middle of the desert.  I love the sly references to adulthood, which slightly reminds me of the tone of Peter Pan.  My uncle gave me the pop-up book version of this story for Christmas, and on my sick day I finally pulled it out for an hour to myself.  The paper artistry is beautiful, and it definitely turns reading a short novella into a different experience.  I ran to Wikipedia afterwards, because I felt like I was definitely not picking up on the specifics of the allegory.  My eyes glazed over at all the historical significance, but I love the idea that the rose symbolizes the author’s wife.  So I just sat and pondered that for a bit, and then gave up.  You can spend a lot of time inspecting the underlying meaning, but I think in the end I prefer to just enjoy the story of a lonely little prince.

 … 

The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly – A+

The Amateur Librarian // August 2013 Reading Log

A dark fairy tale for adults, with elements from traditional folk tales interwoven with grimly satisfying new twists.  David is growing up at the onset of World War I, reeling from the recent death of his mother and all the changes that have happened to his family, when he discovers another world where the tales from his beloved books start to come true.  I’ve been on a roll lately with the male protagonists, and I thoroughly enjoyed David’s point of view, especially as he matured and faced the manifestation of his subconscious fears.  The expert storytelling and magical components were perfectly balanced, especially when light moments (communist dwarves!) helped to alleviate the more sinister plight of David’s journey.  One of my favorite parts were the author’s notes at the end of the book explaining the sources and implications of each fairy tale mentioned throughout the book, and even providing the original text as a reference.  I guess it’s pretty obvious that I enjoyed this though-provoking adventure from beginning to end… it was exactly my cup of tea.

 …

4:50 from Paddington, by Agatha Christie – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2013 Reading Log

I needed a palette cleanser – something bracing, brisk, and logical.  So when I saw this Agatha Christie mystery on sale for 99 cents, it was just the ticket.  Miss Marple, the famous spinster sleuth, gets involved with a crime that was committed and also witnessed on two passing trains, which eventually leads to a family squabbling over a tangled inheritance.  Then family members start dropping like flies, including the prime suspect… and so on.  I don’t read a ton of mysteries, but I know I can always count on Agatha Christie for interesting characters, a tightly wound plot, and a satisfying conclusion at the end.  Jolly good times!

 …

The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // August 2013 Reading Log

I love books about books and this one is great so far, even though the premise is sad.  A memoir about an informal two-person book club made up of mother and son, meeting during the mother’s chemo treatments during her battle with cancer.  This ode to the author’s mother is moving but not sticky sweet, and I’m writing down lots of book recommendations along the way.

Side note:  I couldn’t find an image of the exact book cover that I have, which I’m only mentioning because it’s part of what drew me to the book in the first place.  The cover I have shows two other books stacked on a tree trunk table, with the spines showing.  The titles are both books that I have at home – one that is waiting to be read and one that I already love – Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro and Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner.  I’m always a sucker for a good book cover!  The icing on the cake was that Sam’s grandmother also recommended the book, and she bought it for me at the airport right before we boarded our plane back to San Fran.

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

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5 thoughts on “Reading Log: August 2013

  1. Now I really want to go buy “The End of Your Life Book Club” and add it to the other 3 or 4 books I’m working on right now! I’m also a sucker for covers…and I know I shouldn’t be, but an intriguing cover is just so hard to resist! I also like certain textures–the matte textured books tend to get me, especially if they’re a small, thick paperback with a great cover. Still coming around to Kindle books over here, in case you can’t tell 😉

    Like

    1. I would love to hear your thoughts! I know what you mean about the kindle… But now I can’t live without the app, I’m reading on the bus, at lunch, in a line, any time I have 3 minutes! But I’ll always love my books 🙂

      Like

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