Monday, March 01, 2010

Recent Reads: February Edition

Like the month itself, this list of books read in February is a shorty. But quantity is definitely in inverse proportion to quality here--the four books I read/listened to this month were all good ones.

Three Bags Full by Leonnie Swann
Four-and-a-half stars
This sheep detective story, as it is called in the book's subtitle, is delightful and addictive. It's told from the point of view of a flock of sheep whose shepherd has been murdered. Swann does a great job of making each sheep a unique character, and of telling things from the sheeps' perspective. I didn't catch a single instance of her writing like a human instead of a sheep. And much like a book told from the point of view of a child, the sheep witness things that they don't understand, but that the reader does, making for an interesting, layered story.

The Perks of Being a Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky
Three-and-a-half stars

This coming of age story reminded me and others in my book group of Catcher in the Rye--especially in that I got a lot more out of reading each book as an adult than I would have as a teen. The story is told through a series of letters that a troubled teen writes to an anonymous friend. It's a very quick read--I read most of it in one night (the night before my book club, of course!)--and one I would recommend.

The Reserve by Russell Bank*
Four-and-a-half stars

I am a big fan of Russell Bank, and this story was well done. The story is complex--it's told from multiple points of view, so it's about many characters and many stories--and a little hard to sum up. The themes include love, marriage, class, family, and what it means to be insane. What impressed me most was how deftly he switched points of view. My writers' group has been discussing the subject of how hard it is to write from an omniscient point of view, and this is a book I will turn to as a "how to" guide if I ever decide to go that route with a story or novel.

In the Time of Butterflies*
by Julia Alvarez
Four-and-a-half stars

This is one of those books that weaves fact and fiction to give readers a good sense of what it was like to live during a particular time in history. In this case, the story takes place during the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republica in 1960. It tells the story of four sisters--three of whom get involved in the revolution against Trujillo, and die because of their involvement. The fourth sister lives to tell their story. The book also deals with themes of women's roles in the revolution, marriage, family, and sisterhood.
*I listened to this as an audio book Best Blogger Tips

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