Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I've been reading: August 2013

Summer is coming to a close here, and with it, my summer reading.  As I look back, however, it seems like I didn't read much in the way of "beach books".  If anything, as the summer progressed, my books got thicker and heavier, both in physical weight and subject matter.  I wonder if that means this winter will see me reading lots of light, fluffy books?  I guess we'll find out.  In the meantime, here's what I've been reading as the summer's been winding down.

South of Broad, by Pat Conroy.  Leopold Bloom King is the child of a well-known James Joyce scholar and high school principal(his mother) and a loving, amiable high school science teacher (his father).  In the wake of family tragedy, however, Leo becomes an enigma, and it is only when he becomes part of a tightly-knit group of friends during high school that he begins to find his place in the world.  The story, set in Conroy's beloved South, stretches from the 1960s to the 1980s.  Everyone should read Conroy at least once--his dialogue is so clever and spot-on, and his prose is dreamy and languid as a summer afternoon.  I may have actually stalled finishing this one--I never wanted to stop reading about these characters.  514 pages

Cuckoo's Calling, by J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith.  The setup here, if you have missed it, is that after mixed reviews on The Casual Vacancy (which I loved, incidentally), Rowling decided that her next endeavor would be published under a pseudonym, and depending on the reception by readers and critics, she could determine whether or not she wanted to 'fess up to her authorship.  Cuckoo's Calling has garnered plenty of praise, even more so (of course) since Rowling outed herself.  Underdog, down-on-his-luck private detective and former soldier Cormoran Strike is joined by temp-turned-permanent secretary Robin in the investigation of a model's death, officially ruled a suicide even though the model's brother is sure it was murder.  This is sure to be the first in a series, and to be honest, it feels that way.  The narrative occasionally feels bogged down with the amount of background information included about the main characters, and while I loved the duo of Strike and Robin, the novel felt...overfull.  Still a great outing for Rowling, and I'll be interested to see how the series progresses.  455 pages

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman.  You can read my review here.  181 pages

The Silver Star, by Jeanette Walls.  Bean and Liz might have a flaky mother, but the girls have always had each other.  When their mother takes off to "clear her head" and is gone for weeks, that's nothing new, but when things get extra tough, they scrape together what's left of their money and head East, traveling from California to see their uncle Tinsley at the family home in Virginia.  Bean settles in, but Liz becomes more and more withdrawn, ultimately leaving Bean to fend for herself against the injustices of the adult world.  Walls is an extraordinary storyteller--of her work so far, this is my favorite.  269 pages

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, by Anton Disclafani.  This was one I absolutely devoured--I could not put it down, and finished it in about two days.  Thea Atwell comes to the title's equestrienne boarding school, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in 1930, in the midst of the Great Depression.  Having been cast from her isolated Florida home by circumstances the reader gleans as the book progresses, Thea finds herself alone for the first time in her fifteen years, newly estranged from her family.  Part family drama, part forbidden love story, deeply compelling and compulsively readable.  I look forward to reading more from Ms. Disclafani.  388 pages

August totals:
5 titles
1,807 pages

Year-to-date totals:
60/75 titles = 80%
22,182/35,000 pages = 64%

This page-count goal is really proving to be my challenge this year!  Anyone have any long books they'd recommend?

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