Monday, May 2, 2011

reading recap: april.

I feel like I should just come clean and say that I read all of my April books this past week. With baby showers and graphic design projects, I just didn't make as much time for reading as I wanted to throughout the month. The books I did manage to finish all came highly recommended by friends, and I'm happy to say that they have good taste.

Book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Finished: Late April

Our book club host for the month recommended that we read a young adult classic, and even though Anne of Green Gables was one of the options, I decided to vote for the book I'd never read: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. How this book slipped through all of those required reading lists in elementary school, I'll never know. Although I'm not sure I would have loved Betty Smith's classic when I was younger, so maybe it was a fortuitous oversight. I wanted so badly to like Francie, to fall in love with her like I had fallen in love with Anne and Jo and Polly and Emily. And I did, eventually... But it was a slow love. The first 50 pages of the book felt tortuous at times, rather slow-moving and a little dull. About halfway through the book, though, I was hooked, and by the time I got around to finishing it, I was a little bit heartbroken. I had fallen in love with Francie and the Nolans and their Brooklyn community after all, and then I had to say goodbye. I always hate that. I'd recommend A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, mostly because Smith does a really fine job of developing Francie's character through the years; Smith also provides a well-rounded picture of Brooklyn in the 1920s-1930s. I was fascinated by the simpler time, by the plucky and strong women who triumphed over poverty and found the blessing of it all. (As a side note, my grandfather spent part -- most? -- of his childhood in Brooklyn around the same time Francie's character was living there, making the setting all the more meaningful to me. And while I'm uncertain as to Betty Smith's background, it wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that she had experienced a similar growing-up... The story just reads like someone familiar with Brooklyn and all that meant during the Great Depression era.)


Finished: Late April

A few of my friends have been talking this book up for months, but I was hesitant. Frankly, it sounded a little odd. Harry Potter is about as fantastical as I get, and had my love for my father not triumphed over my stubborn will, I might not have picked that up either. But when my friend Julie provided me with a borrowed copy, and when Thursday night Jordan and I spent four hours in the car, I figured I might as well give it a go. I finished it in four hours, and politely demanded that Julie bring me books two and three this weekend. I am hooked. The Hunger Games was weird and bizarre and I'm sure your friends sound like cult members talking about the series (mine do). But it's also somehow realistic and fast-paced and intriguing and mysterious, and I couldn't put it down. I still probably wouldn't recommend this book for everyone -- it is a little other-worldly, and parts of it are pretty intense (the premise explains it all) -- but if you've got an open mind and a spare afternoon, be prepared to be hooked.


Book: Little Bee
Finished: Late April

Faced with another six hour drive in the car on Friday night, I figured I would start Little Bee, another borrowed book from a friend. Twenty-four hours later, I lay in bed stunned. The Hunger Games was good, guilty-pleasure kind of reading. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was classic, I should have read this a long time ago reading. And Little Bee was this book might change my life, why can't I write like this kind of reading. I now want to get my hands on anything Chris Cleave has ever written, and I'm trying to convince Jordan that I need my own copy for our bookshelves. The truth is, this book could have easily gone awry. But instead, it's beautiful and poignant and touching, and I finished it asking myself all kinds of deep and philosophical questions -- yet the book wasn't preachy or burdened by lessons on social justice. Instead, it was just about story. A really vibrant, well-told story. If there's one book you read off this month's list, let it be this one.


Natalie said...

i started reading the hunger games this month... am on the second book now and can't seem to put it down! i love reading your book recommendations!

Sugar Mama said...

I am not on the Hunger Games bandwagon yet. Since I only check out books from our library I usually have to wait a long time. You have me very intrigued with Little Bee; I'm adding it to my 2011 Book List.

SaraJane said...

I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I read it in the 7th grade and I remember rereading the penis part like 100 times because I had never encountered such scandal.

Four Flights said...

I am very intrigued by the last 2. Rachel (Cherry Tree Lane) has been trying to get me to read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn forever now. I need to just read it finally :)

Mo Pie, Please said...

I recently asked my Facebook friends for book recommendations because when my husband and I travel (which is a lot lately) we like to listen to audiobooks. At least 5 people recommended Hunger Games and I was kind of shocked about how all these different people I know from different points in my life who are all completely different in interests and such recommended it. I will definitely listen to it this next road trip (this weekend!) I really enjoyed this post!

I'm currently reading Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. I'm just about done with it - it's taken me awhile because I'm a leisurely reader which doesn't always work out well. But it's pretty hilarious and makes me think about a lot of things - always good in a book!

danielle @ take heart said...

i have been wanting to read little bee for so long now…this is giving me the final push :) thanks for sharing, friend!

Kim Humes said...

Hmmm never heard of Little Bee but will think about picking it up! Thanks for the reco! Always looking for great new books to read - plus I LOVE the cover art!

Laken said...

I always love your reading recaps. I've been thinking about doing one myself, lately.

And thank you so much for all your support lately. You're my internet sunshine :)

soveryvicki said...

So glad to see you loved/appreciated Little Bee--I thought it was brilliant! And A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is, indeed, a great classic. It was required reading for my home school students. I've been holding out on The Hunger Games but now I think I'll give it a try!

soveryvicki said...

PS I noticed you're reading "One Day." I can't wait to see what you think of it.