1.19.2011

Les livres de 2011: round 1

January is off to a reading bang. I'm already five books in and I can't stop. I attribute this to a few factors:

  • I'm making good choices about what I'm in the mood to read.
  • Our social lives have been low-key lately.
  • I wake up at 6:45am, even on my non-run days. Hello 2 hours of morning reading!

Here we go, the first of many reads in 2011:

1. Great House by Nicole Krauss
You may remember that I took a personal day in December to read and try some wedding dresses. The night before that, I decided to go to the bookstore on our street and buy the Nicole Krauss book that Goldie recommended for my memory project. Unfortunately, I didn't consult my syllabus; I was 30 pages in before I realized that she had recommended another Nicole Krauss book (see read 2 of 2011). Oops.

I like Nicole Krauss. I loved A History of Love and Great House has some great moments. It's made of several stories that she flips through, all somehow connected to a really old locked desk. Some of the stories were wonderful (the Israeli father, for example) and others were bland to me (the woman in New York). I couldn't help feeling like I only got a tiny taste of each character because of the altering perspectives and wished she had gone into depth with 2 or 3. Not a bad read, but you should really check out....

2. Man Walks into a Room by Nicole Krauss
Now THIS is a good read. A man is found wandering the desert; he doesn't know who he is or where he came from. They find a tumor in his brain and remove it, the result of which is a memory that recalls nothing past his 12th birthday.

This story is adventurous, scientific, character-driven and satisfying. There was still a barrier between me and some of the characters, almost as if Krauss is writing them behind a sheet of clear plastic. I can hear what they're saying and see what they look like, but I can't shake their hands. Maybe this is a Krauss thing.

3. Even Silence Has an End by Ingrid Betancourt
I do not write this lightly: this was a life-changing book for me. Whenever I passed the Hotel de Ville in Paris when I lived there, I would see signs with Ingrid Betancourt's face on them.

"Who's that?" I would say. And whoever I was with knew some small piece of the story- a French woman who was captured and living as a hostage in Colombia? Something like that.

Turns out, Betancourt was raised in France but born in Colombia, where she was campaigning to become the president in 2002. She was captured by the FARC, the Colombian guerilla army, and forced to live in captivity for SIX AND A HALF YEARS. Her struggles, her strength, the courage that this bad-ass lady showed, is incredible. She tried to escape several times and she was often beaten, but she kept her inner strength going the whole time.

Reading this book has set up semester 2 of Project Learn (announcement coming soon about what class is next!). I can't say enough about the perspective and the introspection that this book inspired in me. READ IT.

4. The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
One of my favorite things about catching up with Chris' step-mom Beth is hearing what books she's been reading lately. She belongs to a book club in Kenosha (jealous!) and gave me this book the last time we were in town. It was on my desk when I was looking for something to read the other week and I devoured this book.

It is very strange, I will say that. Conceptual fish! Sharks that stalk your STREAMS OF THOUGHT! You keep reading because you can't figure out what the hell Steven Hall was smoking. And it really is quite a story. Adventure, danger, intelligence, a man who wakes up with no memories.

A trend in my reading? You don't say.

5. The Lovers by Vendela Vida
 Vendela Vida is married to Dave Eggers, and while she should certainly be known on her own as a writer, that fact made me pick up this book.

What a lovely, simple story! A widow travels to Turkey, to the area where she and her husband had spent their honeymoon 28 years earlier. She's going through a lot of emotional stuff, but it's not weepy and deeply sad. Instead, it's a quiet story of a woman whose strange behavior is completely not strange in light of the circumstances.

Beautiful. No chapters, just one long story- which meant that I stopped precisely once. To go to bed. Before I finished it the next morning.

6. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Uh... why am I running with shoes on? That's what you're going to ask yourself when you finish this book.

This book was phenomenal. A non-fiction piece about a tribe of runners in Mexico, the Tarahumara, that deviates to tell the stories of ultra-runners across the U.S. Behind the anecdotes is one over-arching narrative- a race. A race in Mexico against the Tarahumara, to be exact.

This is such a great read that you don't even have to be a runner to love it. You could be eating nachos in your pajamas and still admire the characters and the stories and marvel at the amazing things that humans do.

What a start! Writing these reviews has mad me want to read more, so I'm off. Has anyone read any of these? What did you think?

1 comment:

Tara said...

thank you for these recommendations! i'm excited to take a look. more than one will go on the book list!