I read 7 books in March, 3 non-fiction, 4 fiction. 3 were on the Kindle, 4 were in print. 2 more from my “Read it or Lose it” list, so I have 5 down, 15 more to go.
The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them edited by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen. This was one of my “Read it or Lose it ” books, and I really enjoyed it. I like both books and essays, so essays by authors about their favorite books are likely to be a hit with me! And as any good book about books should do, it gave me some ideas of other books I’d like to read.
The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code by Sam Kean. This was a book club pick and I really enjoyed it. It’s an accessible look at DNA, but even at it’s most accessible, I’m left with the impression that DNA and genetics are super complicated, and there are lots of things about them that I don’t understand. One thing that was really interesting to me was the idea that some talents (like the violinist in the title’s amazing musical prowess) are the result of genetic anomalies (in his case, incredibly flexible ligaments that allowed him to play in a way that other’s couldn’t).
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. When I finished this book, I struggled with how I would describe it. It’s not the best or most well-written book ever, and sometimes it feels like books should only get 5 stars if they are destined to be classics. But the book is absolutely gripping, the first book in a long time that I haven’t wanted to put down, that I have thought about when I wasn’t reading. Sure, it’s YA dystopian fiction, but I read because I like to, because it is enjoyable to me, and this is one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a while, one that made me happy to be a reader, and I think that earns it 5 stars.
Daughter of Heaven: A Memoir with Earthly Recipes by Leslie Li. This was one of the books on my Read it or Lose it list, and it took me about 100 pages in to decide that no, I really didn’t like the book. At that point, I felt like I had committed enough time to the book that I should just finish it, so I did. I didn’t grow on me though. I felt like the writing was very personal (which makes sense, it is a memoir), but not in an accessible way. The book jumped around a lot, and (not having lived Li’s life) it was hard for me to follow. It starts out with her childhood and then all of a sudden she is grown up and has a son. It was confusing and I never really got invested. There are better memoirs to read.
My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. I picked this up because of “The Book That Change My Life”, and it was totally enjoyable. I can’t believe I had never read Wodehouse before. That said, the stories all seemed to be the same by the end, so I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to read more. Still it was fun to read about the original Jeeves, and the book is totally worth picking up.
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers is one of those classic mystery writers, and having made a significant dent in Agatha Christie’s body of work, I thought I should branch out a little. This book features Harriet Vane, the love interest of Sayers’ famous detective Sir Peter Wimsey, and is set in a women’s college at Oxford, which of course appealed to me. It took me a while to get into it (I read this as an ebook, and felt much better about that fact when I saw that the print book was over 500 pages! That’s crazy long for a mystery, of course it felt slow at first), but in the end I really liked. This is a bit of a spoiler, but given the concern in the book that the terrible things were happening because of the “unnaturalness of educating women”, I was very glad that the book didn’t go the evil lesbian route. So yay for that!
Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear. Another Maisie Dobbs book – still dealing with the aftermath of World War I. We focus so much on World War II these days (understandably), that it’s a good reminder that WWI was also awful and had a big impact on the world. Slowly making my way through the series.