The Best…and Worst Books I’ve Read So Far this Year.

IMG_4393Last year I slacked a bit on reading.  I think I only read 17 books last year.  This may seem like a lot, but for someone who has clocked over 60 books on the Goodreads Reading Challenge, 17 is not very many.  It was a busy crazy year, as you’ll know if you read my last post.

This year though, things have settled a bit, and I’ve been a regular visitor at my local library again.  I love the library, who doesn’t love free books, even if you have to give them back?  Nicholas and I usually walk down once a week, where he borrows several books and a movie.  It’s an amazing service offered by the community, and I don’t know why more people don’t utilize it.

As I said, I have been frequenting the library for my own purposes more often lately, and it’s the 2nd of February and I’m working on book #7 of 2015.  So I thought I would weigh in on the best and worst that I have read so far.

The Bad:

I’ll get the bad one out of the way first.  I typically finish books.  I have this thing where I feel like if I start a book, I need to see it through.  There have been very few books that I have given up on.  Lately though, I feel like if something isn’t going so good, and I give it a fair chance (meaning I have read several chapters trying to get into the story and characters) I am more likely to put it down.  The way I look at it, my TBR (to be read) list is so long, that I’m not likely to get through it during my lifetime as it continues to grow on a regular basis.  I don’t often take as many books off the list as I put on.  There are so many amazing books out there just waiting to be read.  Why waste my time struggling through books that just aren’t doing it for me?  Life is short, read what you want.

I gave up on a book this year already.  I was actually excited to read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I haven’t read a lot of fiction that is surrounding the events and aftermath of 9/11, but I was looking forward to reading this one.  I knew that there had been a movie made a few years back starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.  I hadn’t seen it, but it looked really good.  I just thought I would enjoy it.  I was wrong.  I found this book so hard to read.  The way it was written really annoyed me.  I really struggled to keep up with it.  The conversations in the book had no structure.  Sentences in quotes that were back and forth.  This isn’t a quote from the book, but an example of this might be:

“Hi, how are you?” “Good.” “What are you doing?” “Nothing much.” “It’s a beautiful day.” “Yes it is.” “I think I’ll go for a walk.” “Sounds like a good idea.”

This drove me crazy.  There was no flow to the writing.  I also had a hard time believing that a nine year old boy was scouring the city of New York trying to find a hidden message that his father who was killed in 9/11 had left him with someone named “Black.”  That no one (including his mother) seemed to notice.  Maybe I didn’t get far enough in, maybe there was a reason and an explanation for this, maybe it would all be made clear to those that actually made it through to the end of this one.  I found myself not caring enough to find out.

The Amazing:

I did however, read an amazing piece of literature this month.  The best book I’ve read this year, and actually in a long time for that matter.  I have been a fan of Sue Monk Kidd for many years, enjoying everything I’ve read by her.  This month I added The Invention of Wings to the list.  This book was amazing.  It takes place primarily in 19th century Charleston, before the civil war.  The book cuts back and forth between Sarah Grimke, who on her 11th birthday receives Hetty “Handful” Grimke as her personal ladies maid, the other protagonist in the book.  I was unaware that Sarah and her sister Angelina were actual figures in US history, who were prominent voices in the anti-slave movement, as well as among the first in the feminist movement.  Sue Monk Kidd has taken Sarah’s general story and shown her own perception, taking liberties along the way.  The result is a powerful story, so well written, that took me in from the very first page.  It is a captivating book about two girls who grow into women, very different people, very different lots in life, but whose lives are woven together permanently.

Sue Monk Kidd switches smoothly and effortlessly back and forth between the two women, and each has their own distinct voice.  I found myself thoroughly invested in each character, and once I finished this story, I spent a bit of time researching the story of Sarah Grimke, and learning more about what a remarkable woman she was and the mark she made on history.  I was astonished that I had never heard her name before.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this book, and any other book written by this gifted storyteller.  The Secret Life of Bees is the first book I read by her, it was amazing as well, and I have always been very impressed by her work.

Hopefully there will be more reviews to come.  I have, as I mentioned, been reading more this year so far, and my name is on a long list of books waiting for my turn to read from the library.

Have a great week!

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2 Replies to “The Best…and Worst Books I’ve Read So Far this Year.”

  1. I have been wanting to read The Secret Life of Bees and your review made me want it more. And hopefully, soon!

    It’s sad to hear that about Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close. I skipped the movie and resolved to read the book, but now, I don’t know anymore. I agree, even if the story may be really good, it is the writing style that keeps us readers wanting more…

    1. Totally. A lot of people can come up with a good story, but it’s worthless unless you know how to put it to the page in a meaningful way that will entice the reader. That is what being an author is all about!
      The Secret Life of Bees was amazing. I read it so long ago, but I remember it making a real impression on me.

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