Ten Quick Book Reviews
I am a binge reader. I go a couple of months without reading any books (lately these reading droughts have coincided with rather intense periods of creative writing), and then I read so many books so quickly that I have trouble remembering all of them later on. I thought I’d better start keeping track. Yeah, I know I should join Goodreads and link it to my blog somehow, but I’m honestly too lazy.
Confession: I’ve never “read” any audiobooks, which seems silly, considering that I spend almost 90 minutes in my car most days, irritated by the lack of musical variety on the radio (in my ancient car, my only options are radio or CDs; I don’t have an auxiliary port or Bluetooth capability). So how about I vow, here and now, to try out some audiobooks on CD in the near future? That way, even when I’m writing like a madwoman at home, I’ll still get to “read” while I’m in the car. Good idea!
Here are the first ten books I read this year, plus my quick impressions/reviews of each of them:
- The Nix by Nathan Hill: Superb! One of those books that makes me insanely jealous (why can’t I be as brilliant and talented as Nathan Hill?). But once I get past the jealousy (Nathan Hill is obviously a literary genius, and we can’t all be literary geniuses), I am simply glad that I read this. The sheer scope of this book blows my mind. WOW!
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez: I read this in a single day. Intimate look at a grieving Mexican-American family. Absolutely love the bright, perceptive main character, Julia. Big thumbs-up.
- The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce: Very thought-provoking. Not a huge fan of the characters, found the dialogue very clunky, but the ideas explored in this book about ghosts and the afterlife and the nature of existence were fascinating. I also liked the stream-of-consciousness flashback sections.
- Girls In Trucks by Katie Crouch: I felt like I traveled to an alien planet and got a little crash course in “how to be a proper Southern girl” and “how not to find a nice husband” while reading this. Great characters and realistic dialogue, heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful, very funny at times but always painfully honest. Good book!
- Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell: I love Rainbow Rowell. I’ve already read all her novels and decided I should read this short story collection of hers, too. Two cute, fun, adorably illustrated YA stories. I especially liked the one about the Star Wars geeks. Feel-good, very quick read.
- My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella: Another fun, breezy novel. I’ve read almost all of Sophie Kinsella’s books, so know exactly what to expect from her. I love her sense of humor. Sometimes her books seem to lack spontaneity—I can usually see everything coming a mile away—but I always forgive her in the end. This story is a little unrealistic, but thoroughly enjoyable.
- Remembrance: A Mediator Novel by Meg Cabot: I adore Meg Cabot! I was ecstatic when I found out that she had written a new Mediator book. I read all of the “old” Mediator books several years ago, devouring the entire YA series in a month—such a fun mix of mystery, humor, romance, and paranormal adventure. Remembrance takes place about six years after my favorite ghost-mediating heroine’s high school graduation, and I’m happy to report that grown-up Suze Simon is just as entertaining as her teenage self.
- Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella: I’m relieved to be all caught up on the always-hilarious Shopaholic series now. I especially enjoyed experiencing a county fair in Arizona through the eyes of a foreigner.
- Artemis by Andy Weir: I never read The Martian, Weir’s first bestselling novel, but I loved the movie. I checked this book out from the library for my teenage son, but he didn’t pick it up right away, so I did, thinking it would be a nice break from all the contemporary chick-lit I’ve been bingeing on recently. I don’t read much sci-fi, but this book sucked me in and flew me to the moon. What a fun adventure! The characters are rather cartoonish, but the setting—a human settlement on the moon, about 50 years in the future—is incredible. I appreciated all of the technical descriptions and scientific explanations of how things work on this lunar colony. Jazz, the main character and narrator, cracked me up, even if I found it hard to believe that she was a young Muslim woman from Saudi Arabia. Why, I must ask myself, can’t a young Muslim woman be a brilliant, potty-mouthed, smuggler, welder, engineer, detective, action hero? I wanted to believe in her! I love the idea of her! Jazz is not the only feisty, brilliant woman on the moon—we also meet female entrepreneurs/leaders from Africa and South America. I think Artemis would make a great movie, and with the right actresses, these characters will fully blossom. This book is far from perfect, but I enjoyed it and look forward to the movie version, assuming there will be one.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: Incredible, eye-opening true story that challenged the way I think about so many things, and forced me to ask questions I’d never even thought to ask. I think this book succeeds as an interesting family biography, as an up-close look at racism and classism, as a discussion of medical and scientific ethics, and as a history and science lesson. Well-done, Ms. Skloot! And thank God for HeLa! Out of all the books on this list, this is the one I’d mark as a “must read.”
What should I read next? Leave me a comment below. Thanks!