The Books of Winter and Spring

I love the book sites, the ones where you can keep track of all the books you’ve read and that have online book clubs and reviews and book giveaways. Love, love, love. It makes reading more of a team event than a solitary endeavor. Especially when I get excited about books. I generally go to two sites: Goodreads and LibraryThing. I just wanted to share some of the books that I thoroughly enjoyed.

1. The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I loved this book. I read it for a book club and was surprised how polarizing it was. Some people found it pretentious and bourgeois but I thought it was intelligent and quirky. It is by Muriel Barbery and has been translated from French. Now I’m going to have to go out and buy it (as if my bookshelves weren’t already full enough!).

2. Cry, The Beloved Country is an older book by Alan Paton, and probably one that most people have heard of. I fell in love, not necessarily with the story (which was also good), but with the way it was written. Prose that is almost poetry entrances me, and Mr. Paton wrote in a unique voice. It reminded me vaguely of another book I love that has more to do with its voice and less with its story, which is Canadian author Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

3. Far From the Madding Crowd is a classic by Thomas Hardy. I find that I love most of the 19th century fiction I read, almost to distraction. I wasn’t surprised to find myself enthralled with this book about a love quadrangle, a fierce woman who changes herself for a man, and the steadfastness of true love that outlasts all.

4. The Likeness by Tana French is a mystery that I couldn’t put down. It was different and unusual and good. An author to look out for.

5. We Need to Talk About Kevin was a book I was prepared to hate. I heard an interview of Lionel Shriver on BBC’s World Book Club podcast and came away with a distinct dislike for the excerpts she read and the author herself. The book is about the mother of a schoolyard killer and her visits to him in juvenile detention, as told through letters to her estranged husband. I actually found it fascinating and though I couldn’t relate to her version of motherhood I appreciated the honesty she put into Eva (the mother). The nature vs. nurture debate is dealt with in a very intriguing way.

Those are the books that have really stood out for me the past little while. Of course, I’m always on to the next one. Right now I’m reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens, who proves the exception to my 19th century rule. I find him very dry and difficult to read, and it takes forever to slog through one of his tomes. Next up will be The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. The stack on my bedside table is much larger than that, but one thing at a time, right!

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