Monday, April 6, 2015

Book report #3

It's been a while since I've done a book review, and three months of a never-ending winter caused me to cuddle up in bed with a book more nights than not. I also (finally) remembered to utilize the library that has been located a half mile from where I've been living for the past five years - saving money AND supporting a local establishment - a win-win in my book! (pun intended) ;)

*Alena (Rachel Pashtin) - blending art, travel, museums, and a mystery, I really looked forward to this novel, expecting it to be as exciting as a Dan Brown story but with a female protagonist. And I was a fan of this novel up until the last quarter or so when it unfortunately became silly and unrealistic, all the characters started to annoy me, and the "mystery" frankly pissed me off.

*Man Seeks God (Eric Weiner) - it took me a LONG time to get through this book. Not because it's bad, but because each lengthy chapter is so packed with religious and spiritual insight that I needed time to digest each portion of the narrator's journey. I'm a big fan of Eric Weiner, and he does not disappoint in his recount of traveling all over the world in order to find a religion that suits his needs and personality. He treats each faith with respect and awe, and provides such a fascinating peek into each belief that this could easily be required reading for any Comparative Religions class.

*Sex at Dawn (Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha) - this was my book club's selection for February, and I'm glad that it was "assigned" to me because I normally would have never picked up anything like this. Using genetics, anthropology, evolution, and a slew of other scientific devises I never studied while getting my B.A in theater, the authors set out to prove that humans are intrinsically non-monogamous creatures. It often turned way too dry and academic for my liking, but it nevertheless generated an evening of fascinating conversation and debate amongst my friends.

*Saltwater Buddha (Jaimal Yogis) - an entertaining narrative of a man's misspent youth-turned-zen surfer. Written with equal parts humor and spirituality, this digestible memoir had me looking up surfing schools in New York (they exist) before I even got to the end.

*The Kindness Diaries (Leon Logothetis) - I have to be honest here. I hated this book. A guy goes on a quest to travel around the globe on a motorbike with no money, no belongings, no gas, and no food, hoping to rely only on the kindness and offerings of others. He not only succeeds in his goal, but he also somehow manages to have the most unbelievable experiences in each country he visits all the while gracing the people he meets with outlandish and ostentatious presents in thanks for their kindness ("a new house!" "here, have a cow for your village!" "I will pay for your childrens' entire education!") His trip was so clearly fixed by his publishers (and the film crew that coincidently traveled a few paces behind him) that I was an unbeliever by the second chapter.

*Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout) - the harsh realities of life and the inevitability of death were starkly played so close to the surface that this beautiful but painfully sad portrayal of small-town life was, at times, overshadowed by it depressing nature. Characters come and go (as I suppose they do in anyone's life) but I found myself mourning their departure within the world that Strout created. A truly wonderful and compelling book, but you may want to keep a box of kleenex nearby when you read it, as I was taken by many of the moments and often surprisingly overcome with emotion.

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