Friday, February 05, 2010

Recent Reads: January Edition

I'm starting a new feature on this ole blog, a list of books I've read in the last month (and commentary on what I thought of them).

I hope this feature serves multiple purposes:
1- Selfishly, I'd like a place to keep track of my reading.
2- I love learning about books and articles from people I trust, so I hope to provide my readers with this service.

Next month, I hope to add a list of any particularly good articles I read, along with commentary on what I thought of those, too.

Here goes!

Books read last month

Reviewed on a scale of 1-5 stars, listed from worst to best. (Saving the best for last and all that.)

Santa Fe Dead by Stewart Woods
1.5 stars

Bought this as an airplane read....The plot was good enough that I finished the book, but I won't be recommending this author anytime soon. The writing was pretty bad.

No Good Deeds by Laura Lipman*
3.5 stars

This murder mystery set in Baltimore kept my interest and, when I was away from the book, I kept thinking about the characters and the plot--always a good sign. In terms of craft, I would like to go back to this book (and others by Lipman) to look at how well she creates a sense of place. I don't know much about Baltimore, but she described the city in a way that was not confusing for an outsider and, it seemed to me, wouldn't be boring or redundant for someone who knew it well.

*Note: I listened to an audio version of this book

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
4 stars

I got interested in this book, which fictionalizes a long-term affair that Frank Lloyd Wright had with one of his clients, after visiting the architect's house in Scottsdale, AZ, in December.

The book is told from the perspective of the woman, Mamah. It was well done--until the end. I won't spoil it for people who want to read the book, but I was totally shocked in the end. I like books that surprise me, but whose endings, when I look back on the book as a whole, seem as inevitable as they were surprising. This was just surprising.

That said, I would still recommend the book for its lovely architecture and art descriptions, and the information about the women's movement in the early 1900s, as well as the illumination of the topic of making hard choices in life (Mamah left her own family, including two young children, to take up with Wright because she felt it was what she needed to do, as a person.)

Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren Groff*
5 stars

I loved these stories. They embody everything I hope to have in my own work--characters who are alive, interesting plots, and subtle but completely comprehensible endings. In fact, I liked the book (which I got from the library) so much that I ordered myself a copy, so I can reread it, study it, and underline to my heart's content. Hopefully I'll figure out just how Ms. Groff works her magic.

*Note: I listened to an audio version of this book Best Blogger Tips


Shannon McDonough said...

Was not only surprised, but was SHOCKED at the ending of Loving Frank. Probably would have been less so had I done my homework prior to reading it, but OMG! I could hardly get myself to sleep after that ending. If it weren't true, I would have thought that the author was just going for shock value.

Kim said...

I've been wanting to read Loving Frank and the Lauren Groff stories. I often get a book from the library and then love it so much I need to go out and buy a copy too.

Writer Bug said...

Shannon, I think that's not your fault for not doing research, but the writer's fault for not foreshadowing/making the ending an organic part of the book...

Kim, let me know what you think of Delicate, Edible Birds if/when you read it!