Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reading Log - May, June and July 2009

I'm going to try to keep a reading log here, for my own reference. I'll post my notes periodically. I won't be writing a book report or review on any of these books, but just some brief comments. I'll understand if these posts are not of interest to my readers; if they bore you, please feel free to totally ignore them. On the other hand, if you have read one or more of these books and would like to add your own thoughts, I'd love to hear them. Just leave a comment.

A Voice in the Wind, Francine Rivers
The Story of a young Christian woman, living at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. She is taken as a slave and moved from her home in Jerusalem to Rome. This is the first in a series entitled Mark of the Lion. I didn’t find the book enticing enough to read the rest of the series. Although I applaud Rivers’ efforts at bringing to life the struggles of the early Christians, living under the rule of Rome, I found her story contrived and predictable and the characters a little one-dimensional.

An American Tragedy, Theodore Drieser
This was a re-read of this novel that was written in 1925. I first read it about 35 years ago. In the passing years, I had forgotten about Dreiser’s writing style – heavy prose with complex, lengthy sentences and archaic verbiage – and about the length of the book. This novel was written to explore the dark side of the American dream – how desire for wealth and status can overwhelm one’s moral sense. The story chronicles the short life of a young man who grew up the son of poor street missionaries, and was determined to make a “better” life for himself. Clinging to the coattails of some wealthy socialite relatives, on his father’s side of the family, he began living the “good life,” only to be trapped by his own ambition in a series of events that lead to his arrest for murder and his tragic execution. Dreiser based his novel on a true event that occurred in his lifetime.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
Who doesn’t know this story? I can only say that in this re-reading of it, I found it much more depressing and chilling than I did when I first read it, many years ago.

Marker, Robin Cook
Okay, after working my way through An American Tragedy and Nineteen Eighty-Four, two weighty and dark novels, I was craving a fast and easy read. I picked out this Robin Cook book – one of his typical medical thrillers. Cook’s books are definitely written to a predictable formula, and this one is no exception. Still, it was a page-turner and, although after six months' time I won’t be able to differentiate this plot from any other of his novels, it was entertaining for the moment.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable, John Boyne
This was my favorite book out of this list. The setting is World War II Germany. The main character is an eight-year old boy, Bruno, who is the son of a commandant of a concentration camp. The focus of the story is the forbidden and secret friendship that Bruno shares with a Jewish boy on the “other side” of the fence.

The book is appropriately sub-titled A Fable, since the story is told with exaggerated simplicity and naivete, through the eyes of the child, Bruno. I found the book haunting, and its emotional impact profound, despite its short length and simple writing.

Abide with Me, Elizabeth Strout
This was the first novel I have read by Strout. It was good enough that I will probably choose another of her books to read, sometime in the near future. Abide with Me was the story of a young minister, Tyler Caskey, living in Maine in the 1950s. The author, herself, describes her work best: "I was interested in writing about a religious man who is genuine in his religiosity and who gets confronted with such sadness so abruptly that he loses himself. Not his faith, but his faith in himself."

The Moon is Down, John Steinbeck
This novela by Steinbeck is not “classic” Steinbeck. Steinbeck wrote it for the specific purpose of motivating and encouraging the resistance movements in the occupied countries of Europe during World War II. The story is about a military occupation of a small Northern European village in an unnamed nation and the citizens’ valiant and selfless efforts to undermine the occupying force. Editions of the book were secretly published across all of occupied Europe. Although Steinbeck did not name the occupying force as the Nazis, there are enough references in the story to clearly suggest them as the occupying force.

Next on my reading list . . . The Kite Runner. Have any of you read this one?


Kelsey said...

Cool! I'll definetely read your reviews. As for Kite Runner, I started it but had a hard time getting into it. Maybe I'll try again after I finish Pride and Predjudice I started about 4 months ago. Ha! I've realllly had a hard time reading it, but by golly, I'm going to finish it. I seem to have gotten sidetracked with childbirth books at the moment though.

Patty said...

I liked the kite runner a lot, though I found it very difficult to read. I LOVED his next book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. I've got The Boy in Striped Pajamas in my "to read" pile and it just popped up several places in the line-up, after I finish The Passion of Mary-Margaret (great so far) and The Help, which came highly recommended.

Regarding childbirth books for Kelsey, I just met a woman who has a new book coming out that is a read aloud to the unborn child. It looks wonderful. It's by Karen Wells and is being published by Kregel. I think it's due out next month.

Betty said...

I have heard a lot about the boy in striped pajamas and will probably be ordering it. It sounds like something I would enjoy too.

Linda said...

Kelsey, Patty and Betty - thanks for your comments. I wasn't sure anyone would be interested in this.

Patty, I went to the website and looked at the childbirth book. I'll make sure Kelsey sees your comment. Thank you.