Books Read in January

Blase’ post

Don’t care…I’m trying to get an idea of how much I read over a year.  Why?  Why not?  As my godchildren would say, “It’s not a competition.”  I’m just curious, over the year, to see what I read and how much I have read.

Okay….January books:

Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer:  a young adult series…dystopia.  Basically, Twilight meets The Hunger Games meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales and took a walk.  Entertaining…a bit predictable but entertaining.

The Patient Stone by Atiq Rahimi:  I saw the movie that was inspired by this book and directed by the writer and it was amazing.  Within one minute, no exaggeration, I was completely hooked.  And I loved the movie so much I had to read the novel.  Which was lovely.  A nameless woman is caring for her husband (also nameless) in a Middle Eastern country that is torn apart by war.  Due to the society/culture, she has been relegated to second-class citizen/property.  In addition, her husband who is to be the grand protector and provider is not only abusive but also in a coma due to a gunshot wound received in a petty squabble.  The woman (that really is her name) starts talking to her husband and eventually begins spilling out all of her secrets.  As the novel progresses, she takes on a lover (who originally thought she was a prostitute…a but of a plot twist).  I loved this novel.  Through incredible imagery, lovely metaphors, and tight characterization, I saw a totally different world through a totally different lens.

No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel:  This novel was recommended to me by a [former] student, Patrick Tuskey.  What a beautiful piece of literature.  The novel is about a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Eastern Europe during World War II.  The citizens of this town are Jewish (although never really, formally announced…this is a great novel for showing and not telling).  The citizens are pretty well isolated from the world until, one day, a stranger washes up out of the river bearing a terrible story of a massacre. Obviously, this is the Nazi invasion and genocide of the Jews.  The village decide to hide…but by basically restarting history.  They decide that the best way to deal with the horror is to decide that they are separate from the world and that they will create a whole new history for themselves.  The novel moves from narrator to narrator but generally follows the path of Lena, the girl who found the Stranger and bore her to the town.  Lena is also the one who comes up with the idea of starting a new history and the significance of re-starting time.  By the time I finished this novel, I felt like I had crafted a new sense of forgiveness and redemption.

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz:  This is a recommendation from Gail Giewont, a beloved friend and the one who brought me to my beloved writing group.  This novel is also told through alternating narrators as it progresses through the tragic life of Ruth, the titular character, who nearly drowned when she was three and whose mother did drown due to tragic circumstances.  The other main character of the novel is Amanda, Ruth’s aunt and Ruth’s mother’s sister.  As the novel unravels, we follow the characters through a fluid chronology that allows the reader to explore the tragic circumstances of Ruth’s life and how her mother died.  Similar to The Patient Stone, this novel is an exploration of redemption and forgiveness.

Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka:  A novel told entirely from first person plural, this novel walks the reader through the lives of a group of women emigrating from China to America.  The majority of the women are expecting to unite (note…not reunite) with the men to whom they are married through arranged marriages and are chasing the concept of the American Dream.  Upon reaching American and actually meeting the men, the women are stripped of their fantasies and brutally collide with reality.  This novel gave me a new level of respect for immigrant families entering new countries and dealing with the hostility and–profane curiosity that is tossed at them.  As I explored the lives of these women, most of whom became blue collar workers, I questioned what it is to work for those who have no appreciation or knowledge of the sacrifices that are daily paid in order to have a basic living.

I don’t know if I should count Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko.  I sort of read it (sort of meaning I skimmed it because I am teaching it and have read this book three or four times before).  I turned the pages and read the information and absorbed it…but it really was more of a skim than anything else.

I feel like I’m missing something….oh well.  I’ll either remember or won’t.  Won’t matter.

Total for January:  7 (without Ceremony)  Not bad.

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