Reducing the Reading Pile

Travel adventures with long plane rides means lots or reading time.  Here are some recommendations from this past spring’s journeys.
 
Read This
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
I will admit that it took me awhile to get into the book, but it was definitely enjoyable.  Maybe it’s the glamour of the time period, or the fun, adventuresome spirit of the three main characters in 1938 New York: Katey, Eve, and Tinker.  Or maybe it’s the journey of Katey, the heroine, finding her place in that crazy time period – outshining the reckless, yet magnetic personality of her beautiful friend Eve and the, sometimes, tragic influence of Tinker’s wealth – only to come out on top in the end after all the ups and downs.

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
If you asked me earlier this year if I had read the first two books in Veronica Roth’s young adult series, I would have adamantly said no and said that I refuse to read another book from this “dystopian society” trending theme.  But the craving for easy books to read while I travel, and the curiosity because this book has achieved enough attention to warrant a big movie production, was enough to make me download the first book, Divergent.  I have to say that I liked it a lot more than “The Hunger Games.”  Once I got over the hurdle of accepting the conditions of this society, with four factions grouped by personality types and a fifth group of “factionless” people, it was easy to get sucked into the characters and the development of their relationships as the efficacy of this “ideal” world starts to crumble.  Don’t start these books until closer to October 2013, though, because the 3rd in the series will not be released until then!

Skip These

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
I read this book back in April, and originally had it categorized as a “lazy weekend” read, but I now can’t even remember what I liked about it.  All I can remember is wanting to slap the female lead on the side of her head for not seeing what was right in front of her, and for settling for the male character who was perceived as being the “bad boy” but just ended up being very bad for her, regardless of the fact that he suffered from a severe mental issue not diagnosed until it was too late.  Meanwhile, the right boy has to sit by and witness this tormented love while suffering from the waning hope that he will ever get the girl.  There’s a whole lot more the author wanted to convey about parallels between what happens with his characters and the type of love highlighted in 19th century novels, but my memory is only providing me with a lasting opinion of a very low-energy, dragging story with unnecessarily complex characters and a convenient love triangle premise.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
This was a recommendation from an employee at Barnes and Noble.  I think I will refrain from listening to future recommendations from that store.  Let me start by saying that I do like Kurt Vonnegut books, as weird as they sometimes can be with his writing style.  And, at first, I thought this book was also going to be a similar stream of consciousness narrative, but I quickly figured out what was going on.  The kid had Asperger’s Syndrome.  While the perspective is unique, just imagine reading a book about Rain Man that had an isolated focus on the thoughts in Dustin Hoffman’s character’s head, while a story evolves around him.  Like Rain Man, the kid, Christopher, is very talented in math but cannot function normally and process information in the way a person not afflicted with autism can.  This extremely literal interpretation of information and situations becomes grating after awhile.  The brutal murder of a neighborhood dog discovered by Christopher is just the start of a complicated, and tiresome book with alternating chapters progressing the story and chapters dedicated to illustrating the random thoughts produced by the disease.  You just want to cry for the single father trying to make each day go smoothly without incident, yet failing all too frequently from only the slightest offense.  Overall, I would not recommend the book as half of it is pointless rambling, and the other half isn’t rich enough in content to make Christopher’s story interesting in the end.

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