Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Under the Wire

Dang; almost forgot to post today! Let's pretend I meant to wait until now, OK?

Know what would really suck? If I forgot to post until now and then added insult to injury by having nothing to say. Which, well...all I can say is, thank goodness for my mother. And why, might you ask? Because back in December, when I was posting those long lists of books I'd read throughout the year, she mentioned to me that she thought I was overwhelming everyone with so many books all at one time, and that's why nobody was really commenting on what I had to say. (Shhh. Don't anyone tell her that nobody EVER comments on what I have to say. I like that she thinks I'm popular. Hi, Mom!)

Her suggestion was that I post my reading lists more frequently throughout the year, at various intervals. But I didn't have the energy to do so...until now. Now, I have about 20 minutes until the end of the day, about 20 seconds' worth of imaginative thought, and the book stuff is already written. All I have to do is cut and paste. Score!

And so I give you...The Audiobooks I Listened To In January And February Of This Year. (Oh, stop that swooning with excitement, you over there...)


1. Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh: I keep this ongoing list of books I want to read. The list is comprised of titles from awards long- and short-lists, and end-of-year wrap-ups; it has titles from various 100 Best Books You Never Read or somesuch snooty pseudo-intellectual lists. It has books I heard about from friends, books recommended on other blogs, books reviewed in literary magazines. It has a lot of books on it, my list, and they all get thrown in together, so that after a fairly short period of time, I have no idea what came from where. All of which is to say that I have no idea where it was that I heard about this book. I had the feeling that it was supposed to be...weightier. More literary. Something. I had recently finished reading Mrs. Kimble when I started listening to this, and maybe that should have clued me in. In any case, wherever it came from, it was an OK book. A pleasant ‘read.’ Some interesting, if two-dimensional, characters. Fairly predictable. It was...just OK. But it’s really bugging me that I can’t remember where the recommendation that I read it came from.

2. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson: What it is about Bryson that hits my funny bone in just the right spot is beyond me. But hit he does. In fact, I actually found myself jotting down lines so I could share them with my brother-in-law, whose sense of humor matches me to a T. Overall, I’m not a huge fan of travel writing, so this book didn’t make me want to read it over and over. But there were lines that I am still chucking about now, days after finishing this book. This man, in other words, is fun-E.


3. The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve: It just seems to me that, more often than not, when a writer feels the need to do one of these story-within-a-story plotlines, it’s because she doesn’t feel confident that one—or both—of the plots have enough heft to them to carry a book. The problem is, putting two not-strong-enough plots together doesn’t solve that issue. In this case, I actually think the subplot had the potential to be an intriguing story, had Shreve actually trusted in it enough. And given it a less obvious and insipid ending. And maybe had someone else write it. (No, I didn’t like this book. And yes, I’m totally over Shreve.)

4. The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro: Dear god, the narrator’s Scottish accent on this audiobook was abominable. Other than that, my hat is very far off. Munro is a true master. These are amazing stories, though I've read others of her I liked even better. You know a writer's good, though, when the work that isn't her all-time best still merits words like "master" and "amazing." Thank you, Ms. Munro, for totally taking the bad Shreve taste out of my mouth.

5. True North by Jim Harrison: His books are really, really good. There is no reason I should be reading him, because they are so very much not my general cup of tea, but they are really well written, and really compelling, not to mention often quite sensual (and simultaneously somewhat crass). All I can say is that as soon as I got about halfway through this book, I went to the library website to request some others. (I'd actually already listened to a book of his short stories, called The Summer He Didn't Die, back in 2006, and was two-third impressed. This time, it was well over three-quarters impressed. Maybe even five-sixths.)


Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that even so many years later, a daughter can still listen to her Mom! :-)

THANKS for the list.

hugs MOM

Krista said...

I am catching up after a while. I am one of those that rarely leaves comments. Have you ever considered joining either of these to track your books?