November 30, 2009

November Reads

I'm blaming T's birthday extravaganza and Thanksgiving travel for getting through only two books this November. And I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book breaks my heart. It raises some very probing questions about life and its value and whether there's a point to it all. We live, we learn, we suffer, we love, we fail, we succeed and for what? For Kathy H., life is pretty idyllic at the boarding school where she and her friends live in the English countryside. It is there that she and her fellow students are educated, told they are special and are perfectly nourished and sheltered from the outside world. But they are not like the people on the outside. They are brought into this world for a specific purpose, one that could change the course of human history and science and the world as we know it. The premise is startlingly fascinating, and even though I was initially thrown off by the colloquial narration and the incessant shifts in time, my mind was reeling by the time I turned the last page. I imagine it would do well in a heated book club discussion.

Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack. I came upon this book at the exact time when I felt like indulging in something a little lighter than what I've currently been into. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but unfortunately it left me feeling very much disappointed. A book-obsessed female living in west Los Angeles leans on her towering piles of books for comfort when times are tough and embarks on a sort of literary odyssey to get her through it. Sounds like my cup of tea. But that's where the book should have ended. At about page 24. Because after that an aimless, uninteresting plot and poorly-developed characters I couldn't care less about take center stage, and I found myself finding joy only in the odd sentence or two where the protagonist offers an opinion (and one I usually don't agree with: how could you NOT like Jane Austen!?)
on a book I've either already read or haven't read that makes me subsequently want to read it. Even if you're a self-professed book FREAK, don't bother.

I'm plugging through a few challenging books at the moment that I quite ambitiously aim to finish before 2009 is over. Famous last words....

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