Wednesday, November 4, 2015

52 Weeks of Reading - October

Its so surreal to me that its November 4th already.  Hence, my tardy reading recap from October.  No...it can't be time already....but it is!  I have to say that October wasn't a terribly great reading month for me.  I have no one to blame but myself, since I am the one picking and choosing what to read.  Still...
October 1-3
*Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von Bremzen

October 4-10
*Long Gone by Alafair Burke

October 11-17
*Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory
*Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper
*The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

October 18-24
*Sisterland: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

October 25-31
*Roadwork by Richard Bachman
The best book of the month was Roadwork by Richard Bachman.  Bachman is actually a pen name for Stephen King.  I used to be huge into him and other horror writers, but gave that all up for the most part a decade or more ago.  With Halloween on the horizon though I decided to pick one of his books, which I hadn't already read, at random.  As it happens, Roadwork wasn't really very Halloweeny though.  There were no ghosts or murderers or possessed animals or cemeteries or anything.  Its the story of a regular guy who is about to lose his home and workplace due to the expansion of the interstate and imminent domain.  He, understandably, is upset and takes action of a destructive (but non-fatal) manner.  He, in his way, sticks it to "the man" in the end.  It was good.
The rest were all so-so for one reason or another.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up would have to take second place this month.  It inspired me to weed through my craft supplies and books, eliminating those I don't use or had intentions to read "someday."  Some of them had been "someday" books for more than five years.  It was time to get them out of my house.  The author had some really good advice, like picking up and handling each object to determine if it stays or goes.  The author encourages people to keep only things that spark "joy," which I liked.  It reminds me of the William Morris line about filling our lives with only things we find beautiful or useful.  There is also certain advice that, in my opinion, is rather kooky, like thanking your bag, shoes, coat, etc. aloud for their service when you're done using them for the day. The Japanese, it seems, have a better grasp on how our physical space affects our mental space though, which I think is important.  They also have a pretty small country with pretty small homes and a deeply rooted culture which, I think, makes them more inclined to order and tidiness.  Of course, this is a gross generalization on my part.
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking would take the bronze medal this month.  The book taught me quite a bit about Soviet history though the lens of cooking--food shortages, rationing, propaganda, politics.  It made me grateful to be an American in the time of plenty, that is for sure.  Still, I thought I would enjoy it more than I did.  It was okay.
Long Gone went in one ear and out the other mostly.   I had to really struggle to remember the details when reflecting on it less than a month later.   It was high drama, the sort of thing that could be made into a television show or movie.  There were lots of plot twists, many of which seemed too contrived or far-fetched for me.  It also was dealing with a world I am not superbly familiar with or interested in--the art scene upper crust in New York.  There were lots of inter-character relationships and I was curious about how it was all going to end, but...it wasn't great.  The ending was a disappointment to me.  That seemed to be the way my October would go--okay books with lackluster endings.
Sisterland would be the worst offender for terrible ending this month though.  I actually quite liked the book until the (metaphorical) train-wreck at the end.  The story follows a set of twins which psychic abilities and their family life.  One twin embraces her clairvoyance, the other has tried to destroy her gift and make a normal, soccer-mom life for herself.  Then the first twin predicts an earthquake and starts a large chain of events rolling.  The whole book leads up to the day of the predicted quake and I was quite eager to find out if she was right.  And then the book tanked and became a soap opera.  Like, serious soap opera melodrama of an absurd, unbelievable nature.  It was terrible and ruined the whole book, in my opinion.
Homer's Odyssey was interesting in that I'd never thought about blind cats before.  Homer loses his eyes in early kittenhood.  I am sure glad there was a kind soul willing to take him on.  Heaven knows there are loads of perfectly "normal" cats looking for homes she could have chosen as an easy alternative.  I found the way she wrote about him rather annoying though.  It was as if she was trying to prove he was 100% normal, like every other cat while simultaneously raving about all the ways he was more special and perceptive than a normal cat.  It bothered me.  She also seemed a lot more attentive and concerned about Homer than the other two cats she already had living with her.  Then there is the fact that I don't really like the whole "mommy" and "baby" language for companion animals which was heavily used by the author.  To each their own, but  I am not Ginger's mom.  She is not my child.  She is my cat.  She is dependent on me, but its not like having a baby.  Clearly, the author disagrees and she's in good company.  I know a lot of people who use that language.  Homer sounds like a cool cat though.  I gotta give him that.  Of course, I think most cats are pretty cool.
Sickened was sad and twisted and interesting in that truth-is-stranger-than-fiction sort of way, but not tremendously well written, I didn't think.  It was real eye-opening though.  I cannot fully imagine a mom who makes her child sick on purpose.  Its like an anti-maternal instinct.  The lives some people lead...thank heavens I got such good parents in such a good town in such a good state.
Weeks passed: 40
Books read: 65
Recaps for the previous months can be found by following these links:  JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugust, September.
In October we were blessed to go to an Elton John concert with some friends.  It was AMAZING.  I knew it would be good, but it was even better than I could have hoped.  What a singer!  What a piano man!  Photos from 10/7/2015.

2 comments:

  1. Well I think you do amazingly well to read all those books in that time period!! I like books but sadly at the moment I never have enough free time to read them. If I do get one out from the library it takes me forever to finish it! Ah well, maybe one day..

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    1. Thanks, Bridget! While I've always enjoyed reading I have officially become a bookaholic these past few years. I must say the audiobooks really help, though I know they're not for everyone. I can get sucked into the plot and forget that I'm cleaning house or weeding, etc. I bet its quite a busy time of year for you with the farm and seasonal holidays and all.

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