Saturday, February 1, 2014

LIST: January Books

Books Read in January

1. Strange Shores - Arnaldur Indridason, 304 pages
 book 9 of 9 sob!

Erlunder investigates a cold case whilst out in the moors thinking about his brother. Time lines were weird here, and the ending is relatively conclusive, but as other reviewers have said, there was enough information about hypothermia to  leave a devoted fan with some hope.

2. Last Night at the Lobster - Stewart O'Nan (audiobook)
 3 h 50 min

Just what the title says: watching the last night at a Red Lobster that is about to close. Character studies more than anything, because no real plot. And yet, it was an enjoyable little tale, sneaking into the lives of Manny, the manager as he deals with the lack of motivation to work the last night, when who really cares? It was set just before Christmas, so would make a nice, easy seasonal read or listen.

3. The Glass Castle - Jeanette Walls, 288 pages
 book club book

One of the questions in the discussion questions was along the lines of: "Walls tells her story with no judgement on her parents. Were you able to read without judging them?" Resounding NO! from all present. The question about which was the most vivid scene also brought lots of discussion since there were so many horrifying scenes. But, we all really enjoyed the book, found the writing compelling and easy to read, and the thought of reading Half-Broke Horses, also written by Walls, was unanimous.

4. Cockroach - Rawi Hage, 304 pages
Canada Reads 2014

Least favorite book of the month, but still okay. I preferred his other book, DeNiro's Game. I found it dragged a bit in the middle, but I found the ending got stronger and easier to read. Probably because there was less stream of consciousness rambling. I am looking forward to seeing how it fares in Canada Reads 2014 debates. Cockroach will be defended by Samantha Bee. This should be good.

5. How the Light Gets In - Louise Penny (audiobook)
15 h 1 min
Book 9 of 9 in the Three Pines Mysteries
Sometimes it takes me longer to get into Three Pines books than others, but listening to this one seemed to help. I was drawn into the story immediately. Penny often flips between story lines, and I could have used a slight pause by the narrator (Ralph Cosham) as those paragraph changes happened. Interesting interview at the end between Cosham and Penny, where we learn that Cosham reads the books blind - not having read it before. I think part of why this book was good was there were a lot of characters not really present (Mrs Gamauche, Peter, Jean-Guy is quite limited) and lots of Ruth. Ruth is the best, and nearly always made me laugh. Several large Quebec historical events are brought up for scrutiny, including native relations, corruption among high level officials and the construction industry, and one other event that I won't mention because it is eventually revealed but everyone will recognize.  This feels like it could even be the last of the Three Pines series, as many, many storylines were tied up, some which have really been the whole series.
 I wouldn't recommend reading this book without having read the previous 8.

6. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead - Sheryl Sandberg (audiobook) 6 h 27 min

Nice feminist take on leadership, and the mindset that is required of individuals rather than institutions to see real change. Sandberg had an easy style, full of information and examples from her life. I liked her take on sharing the roles at home and with children, probably because if reflected my life the most. How the guys who are fun to date are not the ones to marry. How letting the father parent the child without having to insist on things being done the mother's way is the path toward sharing responsibility. How you can't feel guilt for working. Good stuff.

7. The Long Song - Andrea Levy, 310 pages
Orange Prize Longlist; Booker Prize Shortlist 2010

Last January I read Levy's Small Island, and it was one of my favorite reads of the year. The Long Song was a strong follow-up. I can see why it got the accolades it did in 2010. Set on a plantation in Jamaica, Miss July is born into slavery, lives through the freeing of slaves by Queen Victoria, and eventually recounts her life for her printer son. Some horrifying slavery stuff and an ending which seemed a little rushed but a good read none the less.

So, 3 audiobooks, 1 library book, 2 ROOTs (books I already owned) and a book club book. Nice balance of books.  Pretty good considering how busy January was with tournaments and finishing up the semester.

Favorite read: How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny.

New books acquired in January:
The Bear by Claire Cameron (requested review copy)
Maeve's Times by Maeve Binchy  (given by a friend who is also a Binchy fan)


  1. Wasn't Glass Castle captivating? I haven't read either of her newer books but I read this one for book club several years ago and everyone loved it and we had a great discussion. Hope February is a great month for you too!

  2. Few missed comments:

    from Kailana - Oh, you are why I glanced at Rawi Hage at the bookstore the other day. I have been meaning to read DeNiro's Game for ages and they had it. I knew there had to be a reason it was fresh in my head. :) Looks like you had a good January!

    from Nan - Tom is reading the 3rd in the Erlendur series right now, and can barely put the book down. As I mentioned I still have the two just before this one to read.
    I loved Last Night at the Lobster. I've been working on a book report for days trying to give it the praise I feel for it.

    from buried in print - I've been eyeing O'Nan's books lately, particularly this one. There was supposed to be a copy at the local library branch, but it was missing on the shelf; I'll keep trying. Hope you're enjoying your reading February so far!

  3. Trish - it was the perfect book club book. It certainly didn't read like nonfiction, yet who could make that up?

    Kelly - I put the Hage earworm in your head I guess.

    Nan - the last 3 Erlendur's go together, but are quite different and almost stand-alones, except the last one. Glad that Tom is on board with the series too! I listened to Last Night and though it was simple, it was engrossing.

    buried inprint - I read another of O'Nan's book a few years ago, but there are several other books that get high praise. I'd like to read the Red Sox one he wrote with Stephen King.

  4. I am waiting for How the Light Gets In to come out in softcover before devouring it. I really like this series.

    I've read The Glass Castle - it was heart-wrenching, and no, I judged the parents too - it was deeply disturbing that the kids were always left to fend for themselves. That neither parent could stir themselves to look after them in any way. I will always remember the shock of Walls coming in and discovering her mother in bed with the chocolate bars, and the children were literally starving and trying to get enough food to live on. At that moment I lost all respect for both parents.

    You know how I feel about Arnaldur Indridason and this series! lol *sob* is right.

  5. Susan - the examples of selfishness by those parents would take a book to describe! Which is what Walls wrote.
    I listened to How the Light Gets In from the library - I hate buying books.

  6. I want to read Last Night at the Lobster.
    The Glass Castle was amazing. I read it several years ago, and it's still so vivid in my mind.


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