Tuesday, March 1, 2011

reading recap: february.

Just as I predicted, February wasn't quite the reading month that January was. I'll blame the fact that for some reason, I've been reading about four books at once, and as a result, have yet to finish any of them. I'm rarely a several-books-at-a-time kind of girl, but hey: sometimes I'm in the mood for fiction, and sometimes I'm not. I'm certainly not going to beat myself up over it. Maybe this is a sign that I'm just taking things a little more slowly. If that's the case, February was more successful than I gave it credit for.

Book: An Object of Beauty
Finished: Early February

I think Steve Martin is a genius, and his latest had a lot of hype to live up to. I'm happy to say I was pleased. It took me a few pages to really get into the plot, and I never fully fell in love with Lacey Yeager, his protagonist, but I'm not entirely sure that was ever Martin's intention. He tends to paint women in the same mysterious light; they're often broken and flawed and not entirely likable. I'm not complaining, his characters are vivid and real, and even the flawed females are strong, but the guy definitely has a pattern.  As far as the plot itself, I was hesitant going in; I'm no art expert, and I was afraid that might prevent me from really understanding the book's nuances. It didn't. If anything, I'm now dying to check out an art museum or take an art appreciation course, which is saying something. Whatever you wind up taking from the book -- and I do think you'll take away something -- you can't deny that Martin has some serious talent. The book itself is really a beautiful piece of art. (Another blogger's [far more eloquent] take on the book can be found here.)


Book: How to Be Good
Finished: Early February

A confession: I've never read a Nick Hornby novel. Shocking, I know. I'm not sure this is the book Hornby fans would have had me start with, but I thought the plot was fascinating: Katie Carr, a wife, mother, daughter, sister, doctor, is married to David, the self-described (and published) "Angriest Man" in town... until he decides he no longer wants to be angry. Told from Katie's perspective, Hornby hilariously describes what happens when one person tries desperately to be good... and shakes up an entire family in the process.This was my kind of "fluff" read -- better than, say, this -- but still light enough to read in a couple of days' time. Amidst the fluff, though, Hornby -- unintentionally? -- weaved a few lessons, and I found myself seriously contemplating what "good" people really look like. Hornby definitely writes with a certain bite, which I liked. I have a feeling I'll be making a run to the library for more of his books this summer.


Book: The Happiness Project
Finished: Late February

I actually read this book (minus the last 20 or so pages) last year, so when it was assigned as our book club's book for the month, I was kind of disappointed: been there, done that. But the day of book club -- part procrastination, part lost book -- I sat down to finish the last few pages, and I realized: I totally needed to read this again, not because it's fantastic literature, but because it is such easy, easy truth. Rubin's not a genius. She's smart, of course, but what I mean is, her idea isn't entirely original. What sets her apart is her decision to actually act on the truths we all know would make us happier: less complaining, better food, less gossip, more exercise, earlier bedtimes, etc. Rubin is a good writer, so the book is an easy read. I could have done without the scientific references and the bloggers' comments dispersed throughout the book, but I certainly wouldn't let that deter me from recommending it. The Happiness Project would probably best be read in December or January, though there's nothing stopping me from implementing some of Rubin's ideas now. Overall, I'd recommend Rubin's book, with the disclaimer that this is probably stuff your mom has been saying for years, just now somebody decided to listen.


Kari said...

The problem with Hornby is that I never like his characters very much. I have read several of his books, but I don't have one that I recommend because they all irritate me. I think I did like the one from last year about the best of any of them. I think it's called Juliet, Naked.

monster cakes said...

Thank you. Please keep doing book recommendations! I might have to recommend The Happiness Project to my book club now. I work at an Audio Book Publisher, and as a result, I see dozens to hundreds of book covers a day, and I get a little overwhelmed on my "need to read" list. haha And I have a feeling we have similar taste, so I can use any and all recommendations. Have a good day!

ps. Currently reading... Harry Potter for the first time (gasp), Half the Sky (SO GOOD so far), and Captivating (again.

Anonymous said...

Im reading about 4 books at a time now too - therefore, i have not finished any of them. I thought about reading the happiness project but wasn't sure if it was any good..

great reviews! now i want to add the steve martin one to my list :)

Marli and Memory said...

haha thought i'd say what I'm reading just for fun :) of course, the Bible (but I read that all the time lol) and Laura Bush's Spoken from the Heart! lovin' it!