Irreverent Mama

Saturday, August 01, 2009

July's Library Challenge Books

1. Charms for the Easy Life, Kaye Gibbons. Three generations of strong and strongly individual southern healing women, headed by the powerful Charlie Kate, narrated through the grand-daughter, Margaret. If you're looking for depth, nuance or layers, it's not here, but the book succeeds marvellously as a straightforward narrative about interesting people.

2. The Petty Details of So-and-So's Life, Camilla Gibb. Sister and brother Emma and Blue survive the ordeal of being 'raised' by a negligent, alcoholic mother and a psychotic and viciously cruel father by bonding together. They respond to his abrupt departure in wildly different ways, each seeking healing from the trauma of their childhood with greater or lesser success.

3. Everything Changes, Jonathan Tropper. I have a new Favourite Author. I loved this book, absolutely loved it. A man, shaken by the possibility of cancer, is further shaken when his father makes a decades-overdue reappearance in his life, and suddenly, everything comes into question. The results bounce from rambunctuously funny to heart-rending, and, ultimately, just right.

Each main character is realized with unshadowed honesty and compassion both. The son's introspection and analysis is full and sensitive, and yet his passivity in his dealings with his fiancee is nothing less than cruel. The father is worthy of both respect and scorn. No one is perfect, but everyone is worth knowing.

4. Otherwise Engaged, Suzanne Finnamore. I refuse to believe that getting that diamond can turn a sensible 36-year-old woman into the nitwit portrayed in this book. Of course, I was never a woman who would scheme and manipulate to get the ring in the first place. No wonder I found this book so annoying.

5. Digging to America, Anne Tyler. Two families brought together by their decision to adopt a Korean baby: one All-American, one an Iranian immigrant family. It's a fascinating look at the perceptions and mis-perceptions that occur across cultures... with a romantic thread (between the independent widowed Iranian grandmother and the kindly American widower grandfather) for good measure. Excellent book.

6. This Room is Yours, Michael Stein. It's well-written and on an interesting topic, but I just couldn't get into the flow of the book, probably because I found the narrator tediously self-absorbed. Given that it's a fictionalized memoir, that's probably unfair -- a memoir is, by definition, about yourself.

7. Thornyhold, Mary Stewart. A nice light read for a summer afternoon. A young woman with an unhappy childhood finds a home in the house bequeathed to her by an eccentric aunt, and love in the arms of a handsome neighbour. With a little witchcraft lite thrown in for a gothic twist to a sunny plot.

8. Not Wanted on the Voyage, Timoth Findley. An untraditional re-telling of the biblical story of the flood. Beautifully written, tragically bleak. Found it dreary and enraging in equal measure, and my rage was equally distributed across pretty nearly all parties, including the sympathetic ones.

9. The Sunday List of Dreams, Kris Radish. Facing retirement, Connie decides to step outside her practiced routine and act on the list of dreams she's kept all these years. It's a nice premise, and the book starts off well, but bogs down 3/4 through, losing much of its initial energy as it trudges to its close. I'm completely onside with the idea of women claiming their sexuality -- I'm the mother who buys her teenage girls their first vibrator, remember? I just wish she hadn't become quite so preachy about it. It felt more like a (rather boring) lecture than a novel at several points. Nonetheless, if you're the type who can flip past the tedious pages in the latter quarter of the book, it's an enjoyable read.

10. Oh, drat. What was that book called? A short little item, about a writer mourning the loss of her composer husband. I returned it to the library before I made note of it... and now, it's gone. I can picture the cover: leather arm chair covered with woven back piece, in warm tones of brown and red. It had line drawings at intervals throughout, unusual in a book for adults... Oh, well.

Ten this month, bringing my total so far this year to: 48. Given that my goal was fifty, and I'm quite sure I've forgotten far more than two, I can safely say I hit my goal by the end of July. However, this is entertaining, at least for me, so I'll be continuing until December.

From here on in, it's all gravy!


  • I'm going to be anonymous but I bet you figure out who it is! Did you really buy the girls their first vibrator? I seriously considered it for you know who but decided I was crazy, you might have changed my mind!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:08 p.m.  

  • Nope, not sure at all who you are! Could be one of a few people.

    To answer the question: Yes, I did. My reasoning being that until they know for themselves what it feels like and what works for them, they're not going to be able to tell a partner.

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 12:19 p.m.  

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