Reading Materials, November 2017

51. The Orphan’s Tale, Pam Jenoff. (Library) Confusingly, the pull quote on the front of this book is by the author of Orphan Train, and one of the biggest shows on TV right now is The Handmaiden’s Tale. So I really had no idea what I was getting into when I opened this book, which was picked by my book club. I really liked it – the characters were fully formed and behaved in reasonable ways, the story was entertaining, and the ending still managed to be a surprise. It’s set in WWII Europe, an area I visited many times over last year, book-ily speaking.

I was a little worried that my less-than-impressive reading streak would continue into this month, but I’m pleased to report that it’s not. I read more in the first week of this month than I read all of last month. Whew! I don’t know what I’d do without books.

52. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles. (Borrowed) This book was delightful, from start to finish. It covers decades, so it feels somewhat epic, but it’s set in one location – so it feels intimate. The main character is one for the literary ages – I loved him and really felt like I would recognize him on the street were I to see him. Immediately after I finished it, I made Jason read it. He enjoyed it as much as I did.

53. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote. (Bought at used bookstore) This book is considered the first “true crime” novel, and I was surprised by how well it’s held up. I mostly know Truman Capote from his off-the-pages persona – appearing on game shows and in movies like Murder by Death (which is EXCELLENT, by the way). I guess I never gave much thought to his talents as a writer, which are immense. The story was riveting – I’ve seen Capote, and I knew the basics of the murder story anyway, but I still found myself flipping pages to find out what happens next. This is one that’s been on my to-read list for a long time, and I’m glad I’ve crossed it off.

54. Today Will be Different, Maria Semple. (Borrowed) I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? when it came out a few years ago, and was drawn to the deeply flawed, yet very funny main character. This main character is similar, but the book is different enough not to feel repetitive. I enjoyed this read and plowed through it quickly over Thanksgiving break. A good vacation read.

55. Life in a Medieval Castle, Frances and Joseph Gies. (Bought at used bookstore) This is the book George R. R. Martin relied upon when building the world of Westeros for his A Song of Ice and Fire series (that’s Game of Thrones to you TV watchers). I did not expect to enjoy the book so much. Refreshingly uncluttered with opinion or analysis, this is a fairly straightforward account of the development of castles themselves, as well as the men and women who lived and worked in them. And there are pictures – a rare treat in a grownup book. During the same used book store trip, I also picked up Life in a Medieval City, and I look forward to reading that next year.

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