Thursday, March 29, 2012

What I've been reading: March 2012

It seems like there's a cycle to my reading.  I'm either reading a ton, or almost nothing.  March has felt particularly light, but let's break it down anyway, shall we?

In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson.  I originally gave my recommendation on this title way back in September--if enough people are raving about a title, I always pass that information along, even if it takes me a little while to get around to reading it!  Larson, also known for The Devil in the White City, does not at all disappoint.  You can find my original review here.  448 pages.

They Always Call Us Ladies, by Jean Harris.  More non-fiction.  Surprised?  I have to admit, I kind of am, too.  This one came as a recommendation from a friend.  Harris is perhaps best known, if not infamous, for killing her lover, Dr. Herman Tarnower in 1980.  Harris claimed it was an accident, as she'd intended to kill herself to escape her debilitating depression and not to harm Tarnower.  You can read more about her story here.   In this memoir, she talks about the Bedford Correctional Facility where she was housed after her conviction, about its history and inmates.  Thought provoking, with a keen sense of character when describing inmates and the institution alike.  276 pages.

Never Look Away, by Linwood Barclay.  If you missed my review earlier this month, you can find it here.  Short answer?  I loved it!  415 pages.

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James.  I'm working to get paper copies of this one, and its sequels, for the library, but I admit to buying this one for my Kindle to see what all the hype was about.  Well, this review is a mixed one.  While the plot is somewhat infectious, I found the writing style somewhat jarring and some of the language repetitive.  Also, this is NOT a book for the faint of heart--it is descriptive and a little eye-opening, even for the more jaded reader.  (Smutty, is what I'm saying, folks.  In a good way, but yes, smutty.)  The plot breaks down as naive girl meets dark, brooding man, and becomes infatuated.  Man warns her off, girl becomes even more smitten, man relents, fireworks ensue.  I'm currently undecided as to whether I'll read the two sequels.  In the meantime, it's a fun diversion (I will say that it was a great distraction from the root canal I had last week...), but don't come to it with expectations of great literature.  528 pages.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards.  This was a re-read for me, for my book club's April meeting.  If you missed this one, you're really missing out.  It is both sweet and heartbreaking, full of the decisions we make to save the ones we love from pain, whether for good or ill.  In the midst of a 1964 blizzard, a young doctor is forced to deliver his own twins.  The firstborn, a boy, is perfect, but he can tell immediately that the girl has Down's syndrome.  Thinking to save his wife the pain of raising the girl, he asks the attending nurse to take the child to an institution and never reveal the secret.  Instead, the nurse leaves with the child, and raises the girl as her own.  The two families, affected deeply by that split-second decision on a winter's night, remain ignorant of one another for many years, until at long last, secrets come spilling forth.  Really a stellar family drama.  401 pages.

And for the final tallies...

For March:  2,068 pages, 5 titles.

For the year to date:
6,672/50,000 pages = 13%
16/100 titles read = 16%

Hoping April is a bit more impressive!

Are you challenging yourself along with me?  I'd love to know how you're doing!

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