Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Books I Read In 2005, Part II

How All This Started by Pete Fromm: An odd, very unsettling book about a boy and his dysfunctional relationship with his bipolar sister. It made me uncomfortable. There were big, unaddressed issues. And I was way more concerned about the mental health of the boy than that of his sister. But the fact that I was concerned, that it stayed with me, tells me it was a good book. Not the best of the year, not anywhere near, but something different on a theme (bipolar disorder) on which I felt as if I'd read it all.

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott: Only Anne Lamott could make religion seem hip and intriguing and inviting to someone like me. She's so good.

Skywriting: A Life Out Of The Blue by Jane Pauley: By far, the worst book I read all year. BY FAR. I literally can not understand how anyone published this, much less gave it a favorable review. Disjointed, nonsensical, unintelligible. What a waste of my time.

One For The Money by Janet Evanovich: My mother loves this series, so when I found myself heading onto airplane without a book to read, I bought the first one. I guess I understand why some people say they find this sort of thing entertaining; certainly, it was a fast read. But I'm just not entertained by gory violence, misogyny, and descriptive rape scenes in the midst of what is supposed to be an entertaining book. I'm just funny that way, I guess. I won't be reading the others.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn: My friend's daughter was reading this over the summer for her high-school class and the friend and her husband recommended it to me. It was...interesting. Certainly a lot of food for thought--not only from a philosophical standpoint, which was clearly the point of the book, but from a literary criticism standpoint. So much of it didn't make sense, or was contradictory...and once I'm seeing contradictions, there's no dragging me back into the story as a story. Still, it made for a nice long discussion between all of us when I saw that family again a month or two back, and any book that stimulates discussion can't be all bad. This wasn't all bad. Actually, it wasn't bad at all. It just wasn't a coherent novel, is all.

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner: I've been wondering what the deal was with the whole chick-lit thing, and I knew this was about motherhood, so I gave it a shot. Eh.

The Child With Special Needs by Stanley Greenspan: A nonfiction book; basically, a manual on how to do floortime therapy with special-needs kids. There are still many questions in my mind as to whether or not N would have made the strides he's made this year without any input from me, but if my input did help, all of my direction for that input came from this invaluable resource.

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy: After listening to Anne Patchett's Truth and Beauty, I had to read this purportedly brilliant book. It was a real disappointment. It had so little depth, so little reach. It didn't really say much of anything, except that it sucked to lose her jaw. But how that turned her into the person she ultimately became, how that changed her, why it changed her..none of that came through for me.

As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann: I gave this whole 'branching-out' thing a try, really I did. Historical fiction--never been my cup of tea. But it had a twist, this one did. It was about a homosexual love affair in Cornwellian England. I was intrigued. And I read the whole darned thing. And realized, long before it was over, that it still wasn't my cup of tea.

I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson: Why did I do it? I knew I was going to hate this book, that I was going to find it insulting and ridiculous. I knew that I'd probably find plot holes large enough to drive a lorry through. And I did. And I did. And I did.

The Bitch In the House edited by Cathi Hanauer: These were fun essays to read, at least the majority of them. Some of them annoyed me, but that's to be expected. Some of them made me roll my eyes, but that's to be expected, too. But some of them really charmed me, and that I wasn't really expecting.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith: This woman is awesome. This was her first book, but you just wouldn't know it. It's so...ambitious. Funny. Wide-ranging. But not in a newbie sort of sense. Smith seems so comfortable as a writer, so nuanced and mature. She has a lot to say. Which is not to say that this is a perfect book, or even a superlative one. The last third doesn't come close to living up to the first two-thirds, and the ending is an all-around disappointment. (I really am having a problem with endings these days; I haven't found one that really, truly feels right in a very long time, with the possible exception of Bel Canto, if it had a different epilogue.) All I can say is that I hope all the attention she's been getting of late doesn't constrain her writing any. I'm really looking forward to what's to come from the breathtaking Zadie Smith.

Hey! This was fun! Let's do it again next year, OK?

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