Things to Read - On the Bookshelf (January 2015)
Almost all my reading usually comes from the library. But since I can't drive, I decided to treat myself to an Amazon shopping spree (also, since many of books made "best of 2014" lists, the library hold lists were long, long, long).
I originally planned to post on my upcoming reads, but within a week I had finished almost everything I ordered (being (mostly) couch bound has allowed me to spend A LOT of time reading).
By the way, if you're obsessed with "best of lists" like I am, this website integrates several of them to give you the best of the best.
1. The Paying Guests - This novel made several critics' "best of" lists, so of course I had to read it (plus it's a long book and I needed a long book). The writing is excellent and the storyline is suspenseful (I couldn't put it down). But I didn't particularly like any of the characters and nothing about the plot will stick with me for years to come. Basically, a long, easy read.
2. Gilead - Gilead tells the story of an elderly preacher's late marriage (which results in a young son) and his struggles with questions of faith and doctrine. It's somewhat of a slow read, but beautiful. And after I finished it, I immediately read (and devoured) Lila (a companion novel, which is written from the perspective of the pastor's young wife). Both books, taken together, probably make up the best love story of our time (I could not stop crying during Lila).
3. An Untamed State - I keep meaning to read this, but it sounds so depressing that I continually put it off ("an endless siege of rape and torture").
4. Euphoria - As a child, I was somewhat obsessed with Margaret Mead. I dressed up as Mead in second grade and the teacher had to call my parents to figure out who she was (apparently anthropologists didn't get a lot of play in the 1980s grade school curriculum). Anyways, this book is a fictional account of the fall of Mead's second marriage, which occurs while while she and her then husband were studying native tribes in New Guinea. I found it riveting. As in, I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. Afterwards I had to immediately read With a Daughter's Eye: Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in an attempt to learn how much of novel was true. And even that wasn't enough. Luckily, there's google.
5. American Innovations: Stories - These stories are quirky - best friends who disappear, furniture that "walks out" in the middle of the night; a random breast that appears on one's back; a mother daughter relationship summarized through financial arguments. I liked them. A lot.
6. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A novel - Murakami is one of my favorite authors, but I've found his last few novels underwhelming (1Q84, Kafka on the Shore). Luckily, he's back on track. Tsukuru Tazaki is just weird enough, while also having a lot to say about memory and friendship and the passage of time. Definitely, Murakami's best novel in years.