Books read, April-June 2016

Posted on June 30, 2016 under Books

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I am pretty embarrassed to say that I fell down on the job of reading this quarter. I blame it on two things. First, most of April was eaten up by the end of my undergraduate career, when I barely had free time to breathe, let alone to read entire books. Then, no sooner had I finished my degree than I started back at work. I find it hard to get into a routine with shift work, and often I feel so tired by the end of eight hours on my feet that I want to do less intellectually-stimulating things than read. But June brought a renewed interest in reading, and I’m hoping that going forward I’ll be able to build in more time for it. Here’s what I’ve read over the past three months:

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

I had very high hopes for this book, but I just didn’t love it. It’s a quick read (I read it in one sitting on the Megabus back to Toronto), and the writing is nice, but the stories themselves were very forgettable to me. None of the characters were at all likeable, a fact which doesn’t always prevent me from enjoying a book, but which really got in the way this time. The main character is just so terrible. The female characters are all extremely shallow. Some parts of the book were very moving, and some stories were better than others, but overall I felt disappointed and strangely unmoved.

(I donated this book to Valu Village awhile ago, so it’s not pictured above.)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I bought The Goldfinch in August and finally read it in mid-June. It’s certainly a long one, but I was never bored by it unlike a lot of people I know. I loved the writing, the story, the characters. It is a bit slow, but I enjoy a meandering story when it’s done right. I’m glad I saved this book until I had the time to read it slowly and appreciate it.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects is, to me, the most disturbing of Flynn’s three novels, and it is not for the faint of heart. I enjoyed her writing (as always) and the trademark Gillian Flynn twist at the end. This is my least favourite of her novels, but I still really liked it. This is an example to me of a novel where unlikeable, bizarre characters actually enhanced my enjoyment. The ending wasn’t too great, but I always find Flynn’s conclusions a bit anti-climactic.

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

I probably haven’t mentioned this on my blog before, but I’m a big Vonnegut fan. I read Slaughterhouse-Five my senior year of high school and since then have been picking up his books whenever I can. (That’s not that often, because bookstores always seem to stock the most popular titles, all of which I already own!) The Sirens of Titan is definitely one of my favourites – I loved the usual dry, satirical exploration of truth, luck, religion, and the meaning of life, and the revelation at the end is hilarious and comes together so well. Definitely up there with Bluebeard and Slaughterhouse-Five in my own personal Vonnegut ranking!

I currently have four unread books sitting on my shelf (Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins; Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton; Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; The Little Friend by Donna Tartt), so I’ll be working through those next. Plus I have a huge list of books I’m interested in, so, you know, I should be able to scrape together a slightly larger selection at the end of next quarter. I’ve read 12 books this year so far, so I’m pretty much on pace for my 25 book goal in 2016. Now that I’m back in the swing of things I’m hoping to do a bit better than that, even.

There are 3 responses to “Books read, April-June 2016”

  • I have Half of a Yellow Sun on my to-read list as well! I have fallen behind with my goal to read 30 books this year, I’ve just been faffing about too much lately and not dedicating enough time to reading before bed. I’ve gotten a lot better though and might seek out that Gillian Flynn book for a squiz…

  • I’ve never read anything by Vonnegut (!!!) so I’d love a recommendation for the general crowd-pleaser from his list. I’m going to try to tackle the unread authors with concentration this year.

    We disagree on The Goldfinch but most literary fiction tend to be polarizing. I saw that they recently came out with the pocket paperback version and laughed with amazement that they were able to get it down to that size and weight.

    • Haha, a lot of people I know really disliked The Goldfinch too! I was expecting it to be much harder to get through for me. I’d love to see what the pocket paperbook looks like… that must be a small font.

      I’d say Slaughterhouse-Five is my favourite and probably his most popular. It’s a good introduction to him because there are a lot of characters/themes in it that come up again elsewhere in his work, and I think it’s a good story too. Personally out of the big ones that’s by far my favourite – I liked Breakfast of Champions but not as much, and Cat’s Cradle is one of my least favourite of the ones I’ve read so far!

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