runawaynun: (Patty)
[personal profile] runawaynun
So, [personal profile] pellucid asked me about books I've read lately that I've enjoyed. So, here's some of the books I've enjoyed in 2013.

1. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

It follows the story of a girl who moves from Zimbabwe to Michigan but explores how race, society, poverty are different in the two countries. But my favorite thing in the book was the chapter that dealt with how a Michigan winter felt to someone who had never experienced one before - how something that is almost comforting to me can be frightening in its strangeness from theirs.

2. Jane Austen

I haven't read all of her novels but I have read Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice and am working my way through Mansfeld Park right now. I'm surprised at how much I actually like them! But I think they are books that I needed to read in my 30s when I could read beyond my expectations of the stories that they would focus solely on the romance part.

3. Dear Life by Alice Munro

I'm not a fan of short stories but I really liked this collection. They had many things I like about Margaret Atwood but in more manageable chunks. I'm not explaining this well.

4. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

It is a beautiful, painful book.

5. Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I really love how she writes. She explores how concepts of blackness are different in Nigeria, the UK and the US. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt and somewhat convenient but STILL.

6. Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel

OMG, Mantel's prose is amaaaaaaazing and she writes about Reformation England and I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. She never gets overwhelmed by the huge amounts of research she does and I love her Cromwell. It's going to be sad to read his fall in the next installment.

7. My Ántonia - Willa Cather

Whenever I miss Nebraska, I pull out some Cather. She describes the prairie so well. I loved both Lena and Ántonia and their separate paths.

8. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

What if you got to take the other path and change the outcome of your life during World War II again and again and again..... This is one of my favorite tropes/plots and Kate Atkinson does not disappoint.

9. Sum It Up - Pat Summitt

Just PAT SUMMITT. With lots of stories about the early days of women's basketball.

10. HHhH - Laurent Binet

The story of how a Czech and a Slovak assassinated one of the worst Nazis - the mastermind of the "Final Solution" - Reinhard Heydrich. Despite my Slovak heritage, I had never heard this story before. A STORY OF MY PEOPLE!!! (Yes, my ancestors were in the US already. But still.) There's also a metanarrative as to the complexities of writing history and how the structure of narrative and necessities of historical evidence does not allow the author to honor all who died and sacrificed to have this happen and all the victims that died in retribution for these two men's actions.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-11 02:02 am (UTC)
chaila: Elizabeth Bennet reading a book, from the 2005 movie. (austen - lizzie/books)
From: [personal profile] chaila
I envy your reading! Last night I started a book that DOESN'T HAVE PICTURES in it. \o/

So happy you tried Austen! I don't love anything like I love Jane Austen, though I doubt I can ever articulate why. *flaps hands* And I started reading them when I was like 12, and have probably read most of them at least every couple years since. You'd think they'd be ruined by now, especially since I agree with tons of criticism that anyone can throw at them. AND YET.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-13 03:04 am (UTC)
pellucid: (Red Shoes)
From: [personal profile] pellucid
Just getting around to replying here, but oh, such good ones! Several on my to-read list (We Need New Names and Americanah) and several existing favorites (AUSTEN, Cather, and Mantel--Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are probably the two best new books I've read in the past five years).

I agree with Chaila that I am glad you're enjoying Austen! I've taught her enough to be well familiar with the fact that she's not everyone's thing, especially not at all points in life, but I'm always so amazed, for my own part, by how good she is as a writer. Especially when you consider that she basically invented many of the fictional techniques that most novelists ever since have imitated (third-person free indirect discourse, for instance: the ironic narrator that will then slip out of being a distinct narrative voice and into the voice of the character, and then back again). So many people dismiss her as being "just" a domestic/romance novelist (which is its own can of worms, and I can TALK ABOUT THIS, but I won't because you would just agree with me, I suspect!), ignoring the whole part where she's one of the great prose stylists in English. But mostly I can reread her forever and ever.

Anyway, yay books! Thanks for sharing!


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