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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I've Been Reading - August 2013

Hi, I have several books to share that I've enjoyed this summer.
Here are the ones I've LovedLiked, and Thought Were Just OK.

Loved These Books

I always enjoy a book that is smartly written, with a mix of mystery and heart.
This is a great example.  I read that Liane Moriarty's "The Husband's Secret" was the "book of the summer" in Australia (her home country) and in Europe.  I was pleased to find it at our library.
It is set in present-day suburban Australia and involves a number of families who are connected through a series of events.  I rarely get through a book in 3 days, but I did this one.  I connected with the characters and carved out time to get back to it as soon as I could!
One sentence goodreads.com description - The Husband's Secret is a funny, heartbreaking novel of marriage, grief, love and secrets.

Another great mystery, very well written, that had me carving out time to read any chance I could get.  This was on a lot of Top Reads of 2012 lists that I'm just now getting to.  A teen is killed, and the story is told from the District Attorney's point of view.  The DA just happens to be the dad of the accused. 
One sentence goodreads.com description - Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.
Liked These Books
I never get on Twitter but one day I did because someone referenced something hilarious that Steve Martin tweeted and I wanted to check it out.  What I found were all of these references to Questlove's biography - famous and friends raving about it.  I know just a little about The Roots, but watch them on Jimmy Fallon.  Lo and behold, our library had a copy on order and I waited patiently for it to be my turn. 
I don't think I've ever read a musician's autobiography before, but I hear this one breaks the mold.  I especially loved his early years, how his fascination with music takes on a trance-like quality, and his deep, deep knowledge of the most obscure technicalities helped inform the thoughtful, sweet, gentle man that he is today.  The second half of the book was a deep-dive into the music industry as his group skirted stardom and held fast to making important, critically-loved, but not radio-popular music.  I really enjoyed this memoir, but it'll probably keep me from reading others because I can't imagine every musician who writes a memoir is this introspective, educated, and talented.
One sentence goodreads.com description - Mo' Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone's Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world.
I can't remember why I didn't give this book 5 stars on goodreads, but I gave it 4 (a decision I take seriously upon finishing a book).  My friend Erin picked this up book a few days ago because of my recommendation and I was over-the-top excited for her.  I enjoyed it a lot. 
In summarizing this summer's books I see that the ones I probably enjoyed most all have a murder mystery as the background, but the stories are really character-driven.  This is a great example.  Set in Red Hook, Brooklyn this story could easily be true.  Some of the scenery exists in Red Hook, but not the disappearance of the teen.  Beautiful writing, great character development.
One sentence goodreads.com description - In Visitation Street, Ivy Pochoda combines intensely vivid prose with breathtaking psychological insight to explore a cast of solitary souls, pulled by family, love, and betrayal, who yearn for a chance to escape, no matter the cost.

David gave me this book a few years ago and I've been making my way through it for some time now.  This excellent book of short stories is clearly loved by many, as is the author who is now in his 80s.  I had not heard of William Trevor before, but I would say that if you love Irish literature, this book is for you.  While clearly different, I was reminded of Maeve Binchy's cast of characters.  Several of the stories are still vivid in my mind.
One sentence goodreads.com description - A marvelous collection from "the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language (The New Yorker).

 These Books Were OK 
I wanted to love The Art Forger.  A friend, whose recommendations I always listen to, mentioned this book in passing one day.  It's jumping off point is the true-life 1990 theft of $500M in art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston - art that has never been recovered.  Sounded like my kind of book.  While considered Historical Fiction, I didn't find out until finishing the book that none of the storyline or references to Mrs. Gardner's life were true in this account.  That made it pretty disappointing.  Even the Degas masterpiece at the center of this story was not real.  This disappointment keeps me from giving it a better rating.
But, if you know all this going on, it's actually a good book!  I would have easily given it at 4 had I not been so shocked to find out that it was entirely fiction, with only the true-life robbery being true.  I learned a lot about the painting and art forgery processes, which I can only hope are accurate :)
One sentence goodreads.com description - It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
Another book that I really wanted to love.  Not that I think my children take advantage of their blessed lives, but I know they could (and I could too) develop a less entitled viewpoint on life.  I was hoping that I would learn some great parenting ideas that would help me subtly shift our entitled thinking.  Unfortunately most of the suggestions here felt like common sense.  My kids already have chores.  They ask nicely for things they'd like.  They earn money to buy splurge items, they help out in the community, they don't take David and me for granted or roll their eyes at us (yet).  BUT... if you know a parent who might be struggling with any of these concerns, this might be a great book for him/her. 
I did follow the advice on allowance, but I'll share that in a different post.
One sentence goodreads.com description - With irresistible humor and refreshing insights, Kay candidly details the ups and downs of removing her own kids from the center of the universe.
So, what are you reading?

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