Thursday, July 2, 2009

June's book list

Hello. It's that time again.

You know how I said this month would be better? Well, I did. And I read diligently. And I read some books I'd been meaning to read. And I finished some books I'd started a while ago. And this month's book list takes up nearly half a page in my notebook. And I derive a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from that.

But: I started typing up the unhelpful reviews for these books and I realize why I've been in such a bad mood. This stuff is terrible. I mean, it's ridiculous. A couple of nights ago I went home from work in a crazy-foul mood and cut off 5 inches of my hair. By myself. I assumed it was hormonal. Then I checked my planner and felt like a moron--this was all me. Yup.

So while I try to calmly pretend that this is really no big deal (and most people think it isn't because my hair looks fine and I seem to have lost the ability to shock anyone anymore), I do have to admit that some of my deep-rooted dissatisfaction must be coming from the pitiful reading month. I like reading and I'm disappointed when a book turns out to be a complete waste of my time.

Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany's. 1958. New York: Modern Library, 1994.*
At the risk of alienating more than half of this blog's readership, I'm going to be completely honest. I did not like this. I not only did not enjoy this book, I thought it was a bad book. A stupid story. With ridiculous characters. Who do not age well. At all. And maybe that's the point. Maybe I'm supposed to be enthralled with this deeply flawed and wounded character and realize that all of her incredibly off-putting actions are just defense mechanisms that I'm supposed to pity. But I do not. This book stinks. Thank you. I feel better now.

Dietz, Laura. In the Tenth House. New York: Crown, 2007.*
I saw the spine on the bookcase at the library and checked this out. The beginning was slow, the middle was riveting, and then I was just mad. Horrible, pointless book. The plot was ridiculous and tragic and the characters were upper class British people in the Victorian age. Oh help me. I thought I'd take a chance and judge a book by its cover. That will not be happening again soon.

Gibran, Kahlil. The Prophet. 1923. New York: Knopf, 1972.
Well. It was pretty. And brief. I can cross it off the list. The drawings were cool, but can we really get that excited about someone who writes and draws. Didn't Blake already do this? With colors? Am I too jaded?

Traig, Jennifer. Well Enough Alone: A Cultural History of My Hypochondria. New York: Riverheard Books, 2008.*
Oh my goodness, who knew this neurotic hypochondriac would be the bright spot in this month's reading?! It's gross, it's painful, it's hilarious. I liked her book about her OCD, and this is even better because there's no anorexia involved. This made me laugh out loud until I cried. Absolutely fantastic (Cody, who was usually trying to sleep in bed while I was enjoying this, may have a different perspective). And educational. No, really!

Weir, Alison. Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England. New York: Ballentine Books, 2005.
I'm pretty sad I paid money for this. It was on sale, but not like "sale section of Barnes & Noble" or "library basement used book sale" sale. This biography was not very good. Objectively speaking, I can say it was awful. Because there's revisionist history, and there's feminist perspective, and then there's Alison Weir typing away sentences that end with prepositions while wearing her "I ♥ Isabella" t-shirt. I'm fine with you liking the subject of your work--that's probably a good thing. But when you spend all your time trying you justify her actions and refute the work of historians and scholars no one has ever heard of (mostly because your subject is a little irrelevant), you're going to lose me. Give the readers some credit: we get it. It was the 1300s. Disembowelment happened. Whatever. Sadly, this was the first biography focusing solely on Queen Isabella in roughly 150 years. Bummer that it was.....this.

So. I'm more optimistic about July. I'm currently reading Still Life by A.S. Byatt and A Proper Marriage by Doris Lessing and I think I'm going to ask Cody to recommend one of his nonfiction books about food. I'm also open to your suggestions because I very clearly need some help with picking books.