You can do it this time, Caroline!
Back in 2010, I set myself the lofty goal of trying to read 50 books and blogging a review for each one. Well, I wound up moving countries, started a new relationship, and began law school, so the reading thing didn’t quite pan out. I read 20 books, and almost all of them were good, but that didn’t quite cut it. I read even fewer books in 2011 and 2012 (and blogged even less) because all the reading and writing I did on a daily basis for law school made me want to lie like a sack of potatoes on the couch and drown my eyeballs in something soothing. I watched a lot of Desperate Housewives, Friday Night Lights, and Battlestar Galactica, which sort of eased my brain, but now it’s time to get back into the non-law books for a bit.
I use goodreads to track my books which is great, but don’t tend to write down my thoughts on what I’ve read which means I often forget what I liked or disliked about a book. I’ve signed up to do the goodreads 2013 book challenge and set myself the goal of 30 books. I just finished number six….so clearly I’m on track.
Since I’ve been a horrible blogger and reader, I’m going to try to do what I did in 2010 and write a review for every book I read. At the very least it’ll give me an excuse to write again, even if it’s all mostly nonsense. Below are brief reviews of the first five books I read this year. I’ll get to the sixth shortly.
# 1 This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
The latest from Díaz confirmed that he is one of the most brilliant and risk-seeking authors of our time. Somehow he manages to make readers (or at least this reader) feel repulsed and heartbroken all at once. I would like to hear more from new characters and hope that he one day breaks away from the now-familiar Yunior, but it is hard to deny that desire to follow him along and lend a shoulder for him to lean on when things get tough or wag a finger at him when he falls further from grace.
#2 Foundation by Isaac Asimov
My mom is a huge Asimov fan and she’d been telling me to check him out for years. I have to admit I’m not quite sold but maybe it was just this book in particular. There were too many leaps in time so that each time I sort of figured out what was going on, it moved again. If this book was merely setting the story for the rest of the series, then it may be worth revisiting but perhaps not for another few years. There are just too many other books on my shelf!
#3 Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
My dad and Negotiations professor both recommended I read this book at the end of last year, so I did. It was an interesting read, although I actually learned a lot of the things he discussed while taking my Negotiations class so it was a bit of a repeat. Some other parts dragged on a bit and I get the feeling this Kahneman character thinks he’s kind of a big deal, which got annoying. But, ovverall it was a great read.
#4 A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
By the end, I was madly in love with this book. However, it took forever to build up, which disappointed me. I sort of liked Bleak House, loved Great Expectations and was convinced that this would be the Dickens book to rule them all. But it lacked the dry wit that flowed through GE – sure there was some, particularly in the wine shop – but it was not enough.
#5 The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
This was the most moving of the books I’ve read so far this year. It was a bit slow at times and occasionally left me feeling, “Gah, what’s the point?” but then the beautiful writing and character development would pull me in again. It’s set in rural Malaysia over three parts of the main character’s life. Yun Ling, sole survivor of a Japanese prison camp, sets out to design a Japanese garden to honor her sister’s memory. She gets to know Aritomo, the former Japanese emperor’s gardener, and becomes his apprentice. In the background are strong and painful memories, her successful career as a prominent judge, the present danger of communist insurgents hiding in the jungle, and rumors of Japanese gold buried close by.