Thursday, May 5, 2016

book report #8

*The Story of a New Name (Elena Ferrante) I was hooked by book no. 1, and now with this second Neapolitan Novel, I have become fully addicted to all things Ferrante. It's a little like the first-year psychology student discovering that he has all the issues he's studying, but I found so much of myself, my teenage years, and my current feelings toward life-long friendships in this book that it was almost as if I was reading my parallel universe. I'm at the mercy of the Queens Public Library to decide when I get to read the third book, but if it takes much longer I may just buy the series myself.

*Among the Ten Thousand Things (Julia Pierpont) a slightly disjointed narrative that annoyed me at first, but then I got used to it. I can't say I ever got fully onboard with this book, but the storyline was interesting, if not the tiniest bit tired (husband cheats on wife, their entire family derails). A quick read that does well on airplanes and subways.

*I Will Teach You To Be Rich (Ramit Sethi) I haven't proselytized a book in quite some time, but I cannot shut up about this book. Seriously, ask my friends. I've talked about the financial lessons I gained in this wonderfully comprehensive and plainly stated how-to book over dinner with friends, in bed with my fiancee, to my parents around the breakfast table, on the subway, at work, and even while driving a golf cart in Hawaii - because it's just that good and easy to understand. By breaking down money management to its' most elementary terms and practices, Sethi makes having and keeping money entirely possible. I read this book off a suggestion of a fellow blogger and wish I'd read it five years ago. But there is NO time like the present to get started on making smart financial decisions that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

*The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende) it took me a REALLY long time to get into this book. It's not a nice story - set in pre-revolutionary Chile, the men are mean, the women are persecuted, the rapes are rampant, and there was such a graphic abortion scene that I had to skim over a few pages. However, once we met the mother of this multi-generational saga, the harshness of the characters' lives eased up (slightly) and things got good. Above everything else, it's a beautiful tale of love, life, and revolution in an era and country I know so little about. Also, it counts as the second of ten translated works I'm hoping to read this year.

*The Vacationers (Emma Straub) A light, quick, and breezy read (which I really appreciated after the heaviness of the aforementioned Allende), but nonetheless surprisingly poignant and delicately written. The setting (a two-week vacation in Mallorca) didn't hurt either, nor did the dime-store descriptions of the sexy Spanish tutor. The perfect beach book.

*A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara) Devastating, depressing, and over 800 pages long, yet somehow also easy to read and impossible to put down. By the last 100 pages, I was crying so hard that I could barely read the words on the page, and this book was ultimately the catalyst for not one, but two evenings of actual weeping. This was my pick for my book club (I know, good job, Mar) and everyone who finished the book had equal-if-not-worse visceral reactions to any one of the horribly violent and sadistic rape scenes. One member had such bad nightmares that she threw in the towel at page 400 and didn't even finish the book. So it it worth a read? Well, the ensuing discussion at book club was one of the longest and deepest we've ever had - so many themes and questions emerged from the reading that we couldn't stop talking about it. If you're looking for a meaty but upsetting tome to sink your teeth into, this book is for you. Just be warned that it is not a nice story.

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