Thursday, September 17, 2015

Books Read in August

47. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Anna Quindlen is a genius with voice. Her style and tone captured me so much that I never saw the obvious twist coming (I also didn't read the back cover). For fans of Anna Quindlen or just brilliant, funny writing, give this a try.

48. Brave New Girls, edited by Mary Fan and Paige Daniels

I picked this up at Shore Leave Con because I wanted to support women engineers (proceeds go to the Society of Women Engineers), but these stories are good. Even though it's an anthology with stories from different writers, there's not a single story I skipped (rare for me). Each story features a young female heroine kicking butt in a brainy way. Most of the stories are set in dystopias; all take place in the near or far future, mostly not on Earth. I got to meet some of the authors and one of the editors, Mary Fan, at Shore Leave Con when I attended their panel. Highly, highly recommended to any science fiction fan, but definitely pick up a copy for the teenage girl in your life.

49. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, trans. Ann Goldstein

This was my chosen read for Women in Translation (WIT) Month in August. I'll admit I hopped on the bandwagon, but I still find it funny that BookRiot has a picture of this book under the article "Does Popular Reading Live Up to the Hype?". Yes, Ferrante is hyped in certain bookish circles including mine, but no one's heard of Ferrante the way they've heard of say, The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. Anything with a movie or TV show and quite a lot of other books are much higher on the name recognition list. I digress.

So, I jumped on this very specific bandwagon and was not disappointed. There's something about the quality that's so easy to read, and I think the setting and typeface helped too. I really liked it. Anyway, the book is about Elena Greco growing up in a poor neighborhood in Naples and her relationship with Lila, the brilliant friend of the title. It's so interesting to get a perspective on what it was like to grow up in that specific time and place (mid twentieth century Naples). Unlike some other readers, I did not really relate to the experience much, but rather appreciated it more as an outsider. I definitely plan to read the other three books in the series. Highly recommended.

50. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I took all the Patrick Rothfuss audiobooks out of the library and listened to them in order for several weeks. This resulted in lovely commutes and high library fines. Listening to The Wise Man's Fear directly after The Name of the Wind (which I read a few years ago), I picked up on a lot of Rothfuss' linguistic idiosyncracies I might not otherwise have noticed. Also, the books seem to beg to be read aloud. There is so much lyricism in them, despite the plainness of the prose (or because of it?). There is much repetition, but it's deliberate, effective repetition of phrases about certain characters. What I think might be less intentional are the above-mentioned idiosyncracies: Kvothe, the main character and narrator for most of both books, repeatedly remarks, "You would think that I would_________________, but the simple truth is ____________________." It gets a bit annoying, I'll be honest. But Kvothe is also such a particular character with such particular faults of narcissism and hero-complex-ism and such particular talents of memory and near-instant acquiring of book-learning skills that the phrase seems right for him. I suspect I am one of the few Kingkiller chronicle fans who actually waited years in hopes of reading the second and third books in succession (the third is still not out), but I would recommend the series to any fan of fantasy.

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