Books I Read This Month - October 2011

I read a ton of books this month, knowing I would not have much time to read in November because of NaNoWriMo.

Also, today is the last day to submit to the Dinosaur Writing Contest! I would love to receive some more submissions!

Here are the books I read this month!

Peace, Aimee

The Duel – Anton Chekov
When Levsky’s lover’s husband dies, he is afraid that he may have to marry her, but he doesn’t want to because he has too many gambling debts. The girl is a bit of a tart though (obviously, since she was cheating on her husband) and kind of ends up with this other guy, who is just about the opposite of Levsky. There are some well-rounded characters here. The Literary Lab has a great post about this book here.

Vida – Patricia Engel
This is the story of the life of a young Columbian woman growing up in the US. Great emotion and great characters, this is a pretty good book that I would recommend. It says a lot about young girls living in the American culture.

The Pearl – John Steinbeck
Super depressing, but that’s John Steinbeck for you. A poor man finds a pearl while fishing and the greed of the town results in very bad, sad things…

Mercier and Camier – Samuel Beckett
I didn’t really understand this book… I may have to reread it eventually. It’s about these two guys who kind of wander around town and talk about strange things. There were funny bits, and I wish I’d read it deeper, because I feel like the theme was Samuel Beckett’s main aim in this book. He’s really great with dialogue, and his use of props in this book was clever.

The Wild Things – Dave Eggers
This is based on the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. Dave Eggers also helped write the screen play for the children’s movie. This book is a more adult version (as it’s a novel and there is some strong language in parts) but it is told (in third person) from the kid’s perspective. I really liked this book. The writing was great, and the pacing was brilliant. The character of Max was extremely well developed, and I really enjoyed the theme and how Dave Eggers revealed it. I would definitely recommend this book to just about everyone.

House of Meetings – Martin Amis
This novel is about two brothers and girl named Zoya in a love triangle in Soviet Russia during the time of Stalin’s labor camps. It was interesting, but it was a bit contrived. The more I read of Martin Amis, the less I’m impressed. I loved Time’s Arrow, but maybe the rest of his stuff isn’t as great as I thought it would be.

When We Danced On Water – Evan Fallenberg
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I posted about it here.

Twenty-Seventh City – Jonathan Franzen
This is Jonathan Franzen's first novel. I've read Freedom and The Corrections, and I liked both of those. This book, however, was a bit different. It focuses more on politics and the city (and country) as a whole, rather than the American family and society. I don't particularly agree with a lot of Jonathan Franzen's opinions and views on American culture, but he is very good writer.

Light Fell – Evan Fallenberg
See When We Danced On Water

What Is the What – Dave Eggers
A beautiful portrait of a young man escaping Sudan to find a better life. I’ve been on the brick all month of deciding whether or not to bold this one, to put it on my ‘love’ list… But I didn’t love it enough to want to reread it eventually in my life, so I guess I won’t. However, my indecision led me to redo the books tab and put in italics all the books I really liked. Didn’t absolutely adore, but I liked them a lot. So there.

Bag of Bones – Stephen King
Novelist widower goes to visit his vacation home and falls in love with a young woman who has a daughter, but there are ghosts and stuff. Classic Stephen King. Pretty good book.

The Disappeared – Kim Echlin
It’s obvious that a lot of research had to go into this book, and the writing, in particular the descriptions, is fantastic. However, this book is a bit pretentious. There are some unnecessary descriptions that don’t add anything to the emotion or the plot of the story. But it was a good book for getting the vibe of the Pol Pot era in Cambodia. The narrator, a Canadian girl who falls in love with a Cambodian man, was not fully developed, in my opinion. Every action she did and every word she said was devoted to expressing her love for the man, and she seemed like she was not very sure of herself, as if she needed a man in order to be a person. I didn’t feel like I knew her at all, and I did not see what the guy saw in her at all… So, the plot of this book wasn’t fantastic, but the history was rich, intriguing, and very well done. I have mixed feelings about this book, but it was up for a few prizes, so I guess some people loved it.

Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
This was the Blog Book Club book for this month. Here is my post about it!

Hummingbirds – Joshua Gaylord
Man this was a good month of books for me. I really enjoyed this one. It takes place in an all-girl’s school in New York. There are two male teachers who kind of dislike each other for some pretty good reasons, but they have a very cool dynamic that makes a lot of sense. The girls in the school are teetering on the brink of adulthood, which, ahem, shows in their interactions with their male teachers. The characters in this book were fantastically developed. I almost bolded this one as well.

The City of Falling Angels – John Berendt
John Berendt’s semi-non-fiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of my absolute favorite books of all time, and I love the movie too (John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, and Jude Law? Brilliant, top notch actors). But anyway, I had to get The City of Falling Angels too. It’s more non-fiction than his other book, as he uses the peoples’ real names and such. It’s about Venice. Berendt draws such an amazing portrait of Venice that I can picture it in my mind, every street corner, every person there, and how daily life plays out in Venice. But I’ve never been there, so my mind could totally just be making it all up. However, since this is a true story, the plot is not extremely catching. There are parts that seem too factual. Although I may have had overly high expectations because of my high opinion of his first book. But I sure do love the titles of his books!

The Rachel Papers – Martin Amis
Like I said earlier, Time’s Arrow is one of my all-time favorite books, but some of Martin Amis’ novels are a little too raunchy and creepy for my tastes. This is his first book, not creepy but definitely raunchy. It’s about this guy celebrating his twentieth birthday. He’s sort of a Holden Caulfield type of character, only he’s obsessed with literature and seducing women. This story describes him falling in and out of love with this girl named Rachel. It’s sort of as coming-of-age story, as well, though he doesn’t seem to grow up much in the end, in my opinion.

Revenge (Tennis Stars’ Balls Revenge) – Stephen Fry
My obsession with Englishmen goes further than just the young, attractive, heterosexual ones. In fact, I’m obsessed with British culture in general. So who better to read than the English cultural icon Stephen Fry? This book is loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s about a man who is unjustly incarcerated and goes insane. When he realizes what happened to him, he enacts revenge. The language is fantastic, and the characters are well-developed. I really enjoyed this book.

After Dark – Haruki Murakami
Focusing on the lives of two sisters, this story takes place over the course of one night, from midnight to seven in the morning. Great character development and an interesting theme.