Friday, March 27, 2009

Books that Make the Cut

Gilead (novel)Image via Wikipedia

I spent a good two weeks; actually the full time allotted by the library’s lending policy for bestsellers trying to read Gilead. It’s not the first time that I’ve checked the book out. And I know that it won’t be the last. It won the Pulitzer Prize, it’s received rave reviews, and as I slowly slogged through the first forty pages I admired the beautiful narrative voice. Yet, it simply didn't pull me in sufficiently to compel me to finish the story which I believe is more a reflection of the fact that some books must find their moment to be read.

I check out a lot of books from the library, unfortunately sometimes they all arrive at once and I have to choose which ones will be read and which will be sent back because their time is up. Other times, I read a terrific review and by the time the book arrives at my branch either my interest has waned or I’ve moved on to something else. Or maybe it’s as simple as the book for all its merits didn’t connect. This was the fate that befell Gilead.

It’s really a matter of serendipity. I’m in a particular mood, searching for an answer or conversely needing a respite from too much internal struggle so I turn to my current reading list for inspiration or relief. In the past month, I’ve read two novels, both recommendations from my friend, Keetha, who during the first week of each month blogs about the books she’s read in the past month. (As an aside, I must state two things: 1) the number of books Keetha reads in a month is awe inspiring, 2) she has wonderful literary taste and has been the source of some terrific recommendations, so I always look forward to her monthly review.) Last m

Cover of "Garden Spells (Bantam Discovery...Cover via Amazon

onth, she reviewed and then I read Garden Spells and then Astrid and Veronika. The two books could not have been more different in mood or tone, and yet, I loved them both. Garden Spells is delicious and sweet and funny and will make you believe in magic. It was the perfect romantic get-away when I need a break from the overly-serious books that had clogged my cranial arteries. Astrid and Veronika will break your heart and mend it all between its slim covers as it describes the friendship between two women of different generations. I read it over the course of two beach soaked days last weekend when I went away to celebrate my birthday. The subject of leaving my mother was on my mind as I made decisions about my upcoming move and so this book was the perfect contemplation of the different life perspectives of two women facing very different stages in life.

Currently I’m reading The Geography of Bliss, which coincides nicely with my own search for a happy place to call home, Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories, a compelling memoir which I started in book form and have mixed feelings about varying from appreciation to distrust of the author’s veracity, so it will be moving to audio format for a second chance before it suffers the same fate as Gilead. Finally, I’ve just started The Piano Teacher which I hope to finish this weekend because Out Stealing Horses (another in the Iceland/Nordic themed books that have captured my interest lately…Astrid and Veronika is set in Sweden) will be waiting for me at the library on Monday.

Tell me, what book have you stopped reading before it was done? And why?!


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4 comments:

LarramieG said...

Did you know that Keetha keeps a running list5 of six pages of books? I'll look forward to her recommendations next week, though I've already purchased LUCIA! LUCIA! based on her claim that I would love it.

As far as the book I stopped reading, that was THE DIVORCE PARTY. The characters were either unbelievable or felt lifeless.

JCK said...

I used to be a voracious reader, and just reading your post makes me nostalgic. Now I spend all the time on the computer, and somehow I need to find balance. I miss falling into a book.

Vodka Mom said...

I totally didn't have time to read your post, but wanted to say HI!!!!!!


xoxox

Keetha said...

Oh, you're so sweet! I'm always glad to know the book reviews are helpful. I'm working on a post now to get up Tuesday morning.

I just re-read Garden Spells - it's like dipping into a pool of sunshine. :-)