Friday, August 17, 2012

Good Books I've Read Lately

I used to get an email from a lady named Nina Sankovitch titled "Good Books I've Read Lately."  She had just finished a project where she read one book a day for an entire year!  Can you even imagine?  After she finished her 365 days of reading, she still read more books per month than the average person, so she kept sending out emails with ratings and reviews of some of her favorites.  I got a lot of good book ideas from her.

I'm stealing her title today.  I don't read anywhere near a book a day, but I have read some great novels lately that I feel like talking about.

The first one on my mind is Watership Down by Richard Adams.  I've always been intrigued by this classic novel, but the length and the topic (bunnies) kept me from diving in.  I wish I had read it sooner.  It's such an unusual, original tale.  The story focuses on one small group of rabbits and their trek, adventures, relationships, dilemmas, and survival.  Interspersed throughout the main story are tales the rabbits tell of a mythical rabbit and his adventures.  They also come across other groups of rabbits who are living differently than them, which is the main way the author works in the social metaphors he wants to portray.  I had always heard that this book is really a commentary on social, political, and religious topics...and it is...but it could also just be read as an interesting story because it's easy to get invested in the characters of the rabbits and caught up in their adventures.

I also read another classic novel written in the 70's called Time and Again by Jack Finney.  This is a time travel book that has a cult following.  I had never heard of it before, but somehow ran into on Amazon and saw that it had an extremely high rating.  It was similar in many ways to Stephen King's latest time travel book 11/22/63, which I also enjoyed, but less detailed and less psychologically challenging which made it a more mellow, yet still great, read.  It's set in the 70's and the main character travels back to New York in the 1880's.  One of the best parts is the description of that time period.  In that aspect, this book is fabulous historical fiction.  But there's also a modern day mystery that needs to be solved, by observing the events of the 1880's.  And, there is romance, both modern day and in the 1880's.  The book has it all, and it wraps it all up in a sort of dream-like, romantic, classic way that appealed to me greatly.  This would be a terrific choice for book clubs.

I also really enjoyed a book called Whistling Season by Ivan Doig.  I read it when I was traveling to Montana this summer because Doig was born and lived in a town very close to where I would be.  He's a favorite son of Montana, someone who has captured some of the spirit of that great state in his writings.  If you're looking for character development, look no further than Whistling Season.  I would write a review/summary, but I can't do better than this review by Sven Birkerts written when the novel was first coming out.  Keep reading because the actual review starts 4 paragraphs in.

There we have it...three books that are very different from each other, and very good.  I love sharing great books with others, which is one reason why I am super excited about the new book club that formed at the beginning of the summer where I get to swap ideas with some really neat ladies.  We are keeping track of our reads on a blog, so check it out if you ever need inspiration about what to read (or not read) next whatever the case may be!

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