Thank you, friends, for all the comments on yesterday's post. For now, I'll plan to continue emailing my responses to bloggers who leave their email address, and I'll also pop into the comments section every now and then, especially when readers have questions or discussion-worthy comments. I thought a lot of you made some good points, and since, as Jules mentioned, blogging is, at its best, a way to form community, responding in the comments section might be a fun way to foster further conversation.
Anyway, here are reviews of the three books I read this month; you can see past month's reviews here.
I finished the first two books in Stieg Larsson's series early last year, so returning to them this late in the game may have been a mistake. After seeing the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, though, I wanted to read the third and final book. It was almost painful. The book is long, sure, but I'm a fairly fast reader, so I thought it would take me a week or so to finish, tops. Instead, it took me the better part of the month. Larsson's writing style is lengthy and detailed; the wordy prose can be, at the least, distracting, and at the most, overwhelming. I struggled to muddle through the story, pushing through only so I could find out what happened to Lisbeth Salander. The different characters' names became confusing, and at one point, I made myself skim through a few pages just so I wouldn't give up on the book completely. Readers who choose to tackle the entire series at once may not have these troubles -- I imagine the story is much more compelling when read one after another -- but for me, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest fell rather flat. I'd recommend it only if you've read the previous two and need to know what happens to Salander, a character who, to Larsson's credit, I continually found both fascinating and complicated.
Finished: Late January
I haven't quite finished MWF Seeking BFF just yet, but I've only got about 50 pages to go, so I think it's safe to say this will be a January read. It's actually our book club's pick for February (we read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for January), but I bought it a couple of days ago and jumped right in. MWF Seeking BFF is a member of the half-memoir, half-research genre that seems to be popular right now, and Rachel Bertsche is a likable enough narrator. She's witty and pop-culture obsessed, but she's also blunt and to the point; some of her opinions (particularly her thoughts on moms-as-friends) had me doing double takes -- "Did she really just say that?" Bertsche also admits when she's wrong, though, and her growth as a person and as a friend is apparent throughout the story. (Turns out being open-minded is a mark of a good friend.) A journalist and writer, Bertsche embarks on a journey post-marriage and move to find her new best friend by going on 52 friend dates, one a week for a year (though because of follow-up dates for potential BFFs, it easily feels like more). Bertsche tells about each date and the events leading up to it in detail -- I'm a little curious as to whether she tells her BFF-possibilities that they'll be written about in a published work -- and I've got to say: I kind of relate. More than once I've told Jordan that making friends post-college is eerily like dating (something that I just didn't do much of in high school or in college). Bertsche adds research and statistics to her own story, making the book a kind of fascinating "how-to" on friendship. It reads a lot like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, so if you're a fan of that, you'll probably love this. I'm not quite finished, but I've really enjoyed the book so far, and if you're hesitant to pick it up because you don't fall into the married/white/female category, I'd urge you to try it anyway. I don't think men would understand this book (their friendships are never going to look quite like the friendships of females), but any woman over the age of 21 will probably see a little of herself in Bertsche and her struggles to form new, adult friendships.