My shelves are too bookalicious for you, baby. I read a lot. Well, not a lot compared to some people, but way more than is probably normal. Sometimes the books I’m reading from week to week will be the same, but I’ll endeavor to let you know what I’m thinking about them as I make progress (or don’t). I am and always have been a poly-reader – meaning I read multiple books simultaneously – so sorry if I give you whiplash. Here’s what’s on my nightstand these days and how I’m feeling about it!
New This Week
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Pages read: 256 of 602
My book club’s December selection, I got a bit of a head start on this one at the end of October because it’s quite long. That said, it’s really very good – I have had a hard time putting it down for anything else! The story is about twin boys who are born to an Indian nun, Sister Mary Joseph Praise, who dies giving birth to them. No one really knows who the father is, but the hospital staff where they were born (and where their mother was a nurse) all believe their father is a surgeon at the hospital who worked very closely with their mother. Their assumed father leaves them behind, blaming them for the death of his beloved, and so two other doctors at the hospital adopt and raise them. At the point I am in the story, the two are still boys, already showing their differences but still close. The description of the book tells me that they’ll have a major falling out at some point over a woman they both love, and I think that love has just started to develop in my reading of the story. There’s a lot of surgical and medical talk for those who like that, and the book is very multicultural, which I think is cool. Plus it’s just well-written and very insightful into human nature – I’m hooked!
- So Shelly by Ty Roth
Pages read: 89 of 319
This may be the last book I’m reading for the VA Festival of the Book this year – they’re sort of down to the wire for getting reviews in and making programming decisions. I think we’ll totally do it again next year, though – it was a lot of fun! Anyway, so this book is about two teens, George Gordon Byron and John Keats (I know, I know, it gets worse), whose friend, Michelle “Shelly” Shelley dies in a sailing accident. I get the feeling it may not have been all that accidental. Anyway, she somehow left instructions for how she wanted her ashes to be scattered with Byron and Keats, and they have to steal her ashes from a wake, right under her dad’s nose, and navigate a number of obstacles to do it. The story is told from Keats’s perspective, and while I’m not that far in, it’s clearly a coming-of-age young adult novel. It’s not great; it’s not bad. The festival folks are in a hurry to get my feedback on it, so I’m not sure I’ll even get to finish it.
Note on in-progress books: I’m only posting the book cover the very first time I add the book to the list on the blog, but you can see the covers by following the links in the titles.
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pages read:55 of 754
No farther in this one. Some day!
Finished This Week
If you want to read my full reviews, see the Goodreads links below; for books I’ve finished, I’m planning to give just a five-sentence review on the blog.
- The Night Swimmer by Matt Bondurant
Read my review on Goodreads
An American couple wins a pub in a small town in Ireland in a contest, and they move there for the peaceful, idyllic life. Instead, they find a less-than-hospitable climate with local corruption that goes far deeper than they imagine, and very few friends. As Fred tries to write a book, run the bar, and become increasingly more of an alcoholic, Elly spends more and more of her time on an island right across the bay, trying to make friends with the locals (the wrong locals, it turns out) and indulging her love of swimming in open waters. Their marriage falls slowly apart as the shallow relationships they’ve built with the townspeople twist and turn. It’s highly suspenseful throughout, which was a surprise to me, and it’s also beautiful but heart-wrenching.
- Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk
Read my review on Goodreads
Orhan Pamuk is an acclaimed Turkish author, and this book represents his memoir up to about age 20 and his thoughts about Istanbul then and now. He also weaves in a number of chapters discussing famous writers’ and artists’ portrayals/perceptions of Istanbul throughout the years. I was interested in Turkey just because I didn’t know much about it, but also because we recently organized a conference in Turkey. I definitely learned a lot at least about the attitude of native Istanbullus toward their city and their history – basically, that they’re depressed and melancholy about it, and they’re sort of proud of their melancholy. The book is a slow read, but it’s very interesting, and each chapter easily stands on its own, so it’s pretty simple to read one chapter and put it down again.