Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Open and Shut Book Challenge

Once again, I'm really thankful to Katrina at Callapidder Days who finds ways for us to better ourselves. This reading challenge was a lot of fun, and I added some non-fiction (typically a yuck from me) and some authors I had never given a try. That's what I love about reading - you never know what great find you may discover!

Now, let me review my last few books:

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle: I didn't know what to expect at all when I picked this book for a read. It's sort of a theological, self-discerning autobiography by a modern day children's writer. She's frank and open and inviting, yet she doesn't present herself in a "I know everything" sort of way. She just invites you to see what she has discovered about life, writing and God. I thoroughtly enjoyed her unfinished journey.

Dune by Frank Herbert: Okay, I have to admit... I started this book at the beginning of the challenge and it took me forever to get through it, mainly because at about page 100 I put it down and thought, "Later." However, had I known that at about page 104 it would pick up and take me on a great ride, I would have kept going! I wasn't sure what to expect from it, as I'm generally not a sci-fi reader, but this story was pulling me in further and further, making me want to know more about Paul, his mother, his wife... At one point I was just wanting to finish the book; now I'm actually considering reading the next in the series. So I say give it a try - but just know that the first 100 pages will be a little arid... much like the planet on which they are living. But after that, it's like a water ride - so hang tight.

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: Now this book I loved from the beginning to the end. What a way with words and emotions Esquivel has! She makes you feel for Tita, makes you want to slap some sense in to her mother, makes you want to sigh in frustration at Pedro and makes you hope beyond hope that love can conquer all. Warning label - if you're looking for a good Christian book, look elsewhere. This book deals with a forbidden relationship that had me shaking my head at the poor choices at time. That being said, I found myself smiling at the descriptions and the characterization of many of the characters. So take it as you will; I still highly recommend this artful, wonderful piece of literature.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: This book was my first introduction to Bryson, who I found to be witty, comical and highly entertaining, if you completely skip his drivel on evolution and global warming, that is. The book details his traversing the Appalation Trails - or at least trying to hike all 2,100 miles of it. Yeah, 2,100-ish MILES - with no camping experience and with no experienced guide. And lots and lots of noodles. And a great fear of bears. Yes, the man is insane. Yet after his time spent on the trail, his thoughts turned deeper, for reflective of self, more aware of the world that God made. The subtitle "Rediscovering America" is accurate and persuasive; it reminds that there is so much more to life than cell phones, tv shows and concerts. But you can't find it unless you remove yourself from it and surround yourself with the nature that knows nothing about technology or entertainment. He also regales his reconnection with people on the trail and how goodness still exists in this present age. And it made me start thinking about doing bits of the trail myself... (Not all 2,100 miles, mind you... but enough to make me turn my head back to God's untouched glorious world.) I highly recommend this entertaining read, and I thank Pezmama for suggesting it long ago.

Now if you've kept track, you'll notice that I didn't read two of my selections: The Alchemist and The Book Thief. In my defense, the stupid library didn't get them to me in time. I only just received The Alchemist two days ago, and I've been too busy with work to run through it. And honestly, I'd rather catch up on all my bloglines at this point, but even THAT will probably wait until next week with the way work is going.

BUT, since I couldn't get to those books, I read quite a few in their places, one of which was Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence. What a great find! Shannon recommend her to me and I was excited to read her. The book is a mystery that is set in the economy-challenged, emotionally suffering post Civil War state of Maine. Following the life of the mid-wife Hannah Trevor -an independent, society-bucking woman who gladly shed the shackles of a ugly marriage (by that I mean she showed no remorse when her hateful, cowardly husband left her and ultimately died abroad) who is ostracized for being so and for having a suspect daughter, the dark tale surrounds the murder of a quiet woman. This book is not for the squeamish. It is a bleak, realistic look at a woman's life in the late 1800's, surrounded by gossip, anger and despair. For all that, I must say that the book left me feeling enlightened and refreshed. I not only suggest the book to you, I've also got the next book on order from the library, too.

My favorite: Still the Bible. I learn more and more about God, myself and humanity when I'm in his word.

Worst: The Boleyn Inheritance - Stick a needle in your eye before you read it. You'll want to know something "fun" before your through...

New author: I tried lots of new authors, and I will go back to read more of their work.

Books not finished: See above.

New book from others' lists: Too many to put here. (But if you read one that you think I need to try, please leave it in the comments!)

I'm going to go through the other's list thoroughly so that I can get some new books to read because you all know that I'm just not addicted enough to reading!

I learned that there are still a lot of good books to be read! And I have to do a better job of posting my reviews.

The best part: Going through the others' lists and finding new books to devour.

And Katrina, count me in for the fall's reading challenge. I just hope she has as catchy as a title as she did this time... :)

If your interested, you can check out my other reviews:

The Spring Reading Thing 2007

Spring Reading Challenge Reviews

(And after finding those posts again, all I can say is this: Those are some mighty boring titles for posts. I'll get on top of that soon enough...)