Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Books, Books, Books

I was astonished to see that the last time I posted about books was last November and I've read some really good books since then.

The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck.  I picked this up at Costco last year.  It's written in the style of William Least Heat Moon whose "travel writing" is across the US by road and then later by waterways. Buck's trip is with mules and a covered wagon. It's an interesting juxtaposition of travel and American history.

Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.  This quirky Western was recommended by two people in my book club and was nominated for the Booker Award though it's totally unlike any Booker I've ever read before.  The brothers are hired killers with a job assignment which doesn't in any way go down as they had planned.  The O'Henryish ending was the frosting on the cake for me.  It's almost a spoof but not quire.  From one review:  “A gorgeous, wise, riveting work of, among other things, cowboy noir…Honestly, I can’t recall ever being this fond of a pair of psychopaths.” 

The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and their Olympic quest for gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  My sister-in-law gave us this book for Christmas because she said that she had loved it.  Three stories are braided together: The Seattle team were underdogs in this predominantly East Coast Ivy League sport; Hitler was building his empire and wanting to display it; and the iffy position of Joe Rantz who takes a front-and-center seat in this book. It's been around for a while now though it's still considered a best seller.

Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild.  This debut novel is a pretty inane romp across the world of art and art dealers.  After Annie finds a lost masterpiece in a junk shop and once the authenticity is established, she finds herself bombarded with a wide array of interested buyers  It gets pretty wacky.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.  Allende is such a well-known author that you've probably already come across her newest book, but just in case...  The setting is San Francisco in 1939 shortly before before the Japanese were interned.  Alma is Polish and with the Nazis soon to invade her country, her parents send her to stay with her rich and loving aunt and uncle.  Unnoticed by all, she forms a close friendship with the gardener's son which continues throughout their lives.  It was one of my favorite books last year.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Ove is such a cranky old guy that I was surprised to find that I liked him.  No one seems to take his gruffness seriously.  Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Georgia by Dawn Tripp.  I've been an O'Keefe fan for as long as I can remember so was looking forward to this fictionalized recounting of her art and her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz.  It was everything I hoped for.  I came away with a different opinion of Stieglitz.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.   I read this after I saw the movie and for once I'm glad I did it this way. Usually I want to read the book first but Toibin's lovely prose simply doesn't  translate onto the big screen.

The Summer before the War by Helen Simonson.  The is a second book by the author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and I saved it for last because it's my favorite book so far this year.  It's 1914 in Sussex England and the book opens with arrival of the new school teacher who is also the main character.  If you do read it, Aunt Agatha is my favorite character.  “A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community.” so saith the Washington Post.  


Theresa said...

Oh gosh, the Sisters Brothers was quite the book. It's been a while since I read it, but I certainly enjoyed it.

Nina said...

The review come at a good time. I just took The Sisters Brothers out from the library! Now I am quite looking forward to reading it.