Since my biggest goal on this day of sick is to clear off my makeshift desk, I need to get this pile of books put away in their appropriate places. Which for most, maybe even all, won’t be back on the shelves. How sad is that–few of the books I’ve read of late of worthy of keeping (though to be honest, my qualifications for “worthy of keeping” have become quite high as of late). On the other hand, none of them were awful either. And the short stories I’ve been reading recently have been totally making me happy.
So just a few words on each of my recent reads (so I can keep my silly project updated)…
Jack & Jill by James Patterson. I picked up a big pile of the early Alex Cross books at the library sale last fall, just for times when I needed a “comfort” read. Still don’t know what it says about me that serial killer novels are my comfort zone, but whatever. This was a reread, and it was perfect for my fibro fogged brain at the time. I like these novels because they don’t require anything in the way of brain power, and they move quickly, but no, they’re certainly not great literature by most people’s standards. I likely won’t even remember much of the story six months from now.
Symbiont by Mira Grant. This is book I likely would have kept if I had owned it to start with, but alas, I listened to this e-audiobook from the library. This is the second in Grant’s Parasitology trilogy. I freakin’ adored the first book, Parasite. I can’t quite say the same about this one. It’s not that I disliked it by any means. But it felt very much like filler, if that makes sense. I can’t wait to read the third book and see how things play out! This is my favorite kind of sci-fi, the Earth-based, medical sort. (Which yeah, I don’t know if that’s actually a category of sci-fi, but I know what I mean; Orphan Black would be an example.) Not only is this series great fun, it hits on some interesting questions, the most obvious being about what it means to be a person. Not human, but a person.
Bird Brains: The Intelligences of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays by Candace Savage. Another library book, that had I actually owned, I probably would have kept, if for the photography alone. Seriously, this book was filled with gorgeous photographs of various corvids. And it was an interesting, though not terribly in-depth (it’s a very short book), read about the various members of the corvidae family, covering not just their intelligence but other pieces of their natural history as well. In the sidebars there were often quotes and pieces of corvid folklore as well.
The Less-Dead by April Lurie. I wish I knew what to say about this one. I had somewhat conflicted feelings, and I have to admit that it was my own biases that are to blame. Organized religion tends to put me on guard. While I fully respect, and often admire, people’s personal faiths (as long as their beliefs are not harmful to others), I just have this gut reaction to be wary when it comes to religion. And evangelical Christianity is essential to this story. This YA novel tackles the issues of Christianity’s views on homosexuality. The author, a Christian herself, definitely fights against the view that homosexuality is a sin, and in fact, at the end of the story includes an author’s note disputing the interpretation of the Biblical passages some try to use to condemn it. And while the author fights the hateful beliefs that many evangelical Christians hold, she is still very respectful of the Christian faith as a whole. I guess the story itself would be categorized as a mystery, with the murders of young gay foster kids at its center, but as so many books do, it goes far beyond any strict genre label. In a way, it’s also a coming-of-age story. And it’s certainly a story of struggling with faith.
A Cafecito Story by Julia Alvarez. This could probably be called a short story, packaged as a book. It’s the story of a U.S. farmer whose family farm is put out of business by big agriculture. He becomes a teacher instead. He takes a vacation to the Dominican Republic and meets a couple who are small coffee growers, and he learns about the right way to grow coffee. He ends up staying. The story could probably be called an exemplum about fair trade, small farm agriculture, and sustainability. Because this is a subject I was already familiar with, I wouldn’t say I learned anything new, and certain bits of it sounded a bit, argh–I can’t think of the word I need (white farmer comes in and learns about coffee growing, and returns the favor by teaching all the illiterate people to read). The book is filled with beautiful woodcuts by Belkis Ramirez.
Father’s Arcane Daughter by E.L. Konigsburg. Despite the fact that The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of my absolute favorite books as a kid, I’d never even heard of this book until Dewey read it during Readathon one year. And I decided it would be a wonderful way to start my day for this past Dewey’s Readathon. I’m glad I read it (I’d really like to eventually read all of her books, and still have many to go), but I wouldn’t call it a favorite. It’s not that I hated it, but it left me a bit uncomfortable. I would love to hear someone’s opinion who is more familiar with issues of ableism.
Every Breath You Take by Ann Rule. I don’t read nearly the amount of true crime that I once did, but Ann Rule is a true crime author I tend to trust. Her intensive research and the way she writes tends to bring the people involved in the awful events to life. But I have to admit, while there was never any question that I would finish this book once I started it, I didn’t get the same reading satisfaction that I have gotten in the past from her books. I don’t think it’s because of the book itself, but maybe it was. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood. Or maybe true crime just isn’t quite for me anymore. *shrugs*
10. Read 100 mysteries/thrillers. Jack & Jill. (1/100)
11. Read 100 speculative fiction novels. Symbiont. (2/100)
12. Read 100 non-fiction science/nature books. Bird Brains. (1/100)
18. Read 100 LGBT books. The Less-Dead. (1/100)
19. Read fiction books set in 100 different countries. A Cafecito Story. (1/100)
23. Read 100 books that Ana, Chris, Eva, Dewey, or Rich made me want to read. Father’s Arcane Daughter. (1/100)
83. Read, watch, listen to 100 true crime books, documentaries, podcasts, etc. Every Breath You Take. (3/100)