3.13.2013

Reading life review

Number of books read in 2013: 20
Complete list of books read in 2013 can be found here.
Number of books read since last "reading life review" post: 11
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Human .4 (Mike A. Lancaster; 2011. 240 pages. YA fiction.) Matrix-inspired and thus intriguing, but approached a bit too simplistically to be pulled off completely. Still, not bad.

Warm Bodies (Isaac Marion; 2011. 256 pages. Fiction.) No, I haven't seen the movie, but now I think I may. This was a serviceable work of zombie fiction, with a clever twist on the genre's central premise: Maybe the shuffling brain-eaters are not quite as dead as we think they are.

The Underwater Welder (Jeff Lemire; 2012. 224 pages. Graphic fiction.) As an ardent fan of Sweet Tooth, I couldn't resist this fictional account of a man seeking his dead father, including all of the profound ways in which that search affects his emotional development. And the unintentional juxtaposition to Michael Hainey's account of his own search for his father? Just ol' serendipity / synthesis / synchronicity working its magic, I guess.

After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story (Michael Hainey; 2013. 320 pages. Non-fiction.) Excerpt here. Reviews here, here, and here.

From the memoir's conclusion:
She goes silent, and that moment, I see her anew. And I realize, Here I am -- a son who went looking for his father, and found his mother.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Philip K. Dick; 1968. 256 pages. Fiction.) A reread, this time with the Misses.

Accelerated (Bronwen Hruska; 2012. 288 pages. Fiction.) Why did I think this was a satirical sci-fi novel, akin to Edward Bloor's Story Time, but for adults? Insert a shrug. About a third of the way through, I reread the book description online and realized my error. Given the topic -- the obsession with the "right" schools, the best methods, high test scores, achievement, and giving students an "edge," no matter what the costs -- it certainly would have worked as a satire, a sci-fi novel, or a hybrid. It also worked as a contemporary novel, though. Recommended.

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger; 1951. 288 pages. Fiction.) A reread, this time with the Misses. Related entry here.

Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes; 1966. 324 pages. Fiction.)  A reread, this time with the Misses.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Jamie Ford; 2009. 301 pages. Fiction.) Are you a reader? the clerk asked. Oh, yes. What are you reading? I mentioned that I had recently read and appreciated The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller) and had also recently read Dracula (Bram Stoker). How did I miss that when I was younger? I asked. Oh, you have to read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, he insisted. Here's a question: Did he even listen to my reply? To be fair, the book wasn't awful, but similar themes are explored with far more deftness and magic in The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Jan-Philipp Sendker), which I read and loved in early 2012.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Sijie; 2002. 104 pages. Fiction.) While history, friendship, and the vagaries of first love contribute to the power of this slim work, books are the real story -- how they change us, grow our imaginations, and sometimes free us. Beautiful and highly recommended.

Revival, Vol. 1 (Tim Seeley; 2012. 128 pages. Graphic fiction.) I liked this more than Girl Detective did, but she's right: It's awfully hard to follow. I picked it up because but it reminds me of Les Revenants (They Came Back), that French zombie movie I raved about a couple of years ago, and I wanted to see where it went.

Notably in progress:

Moby-Dick (Herman Melville; 1851/2001. 672 pages. Fiction.)
Physics for Future Presidents (Richard A. Muller; 2009. 384 pages. Non-fiction.)
May We Be Forgiven (A.M. Homes; 2012. 496 pages. Fiction.)

3 comments:

Girl Detective said...

But did you _like_ After Visiting Friends? The EW write up made it sound fascinating. But I'm all het up in the Tournament of Books, now.

Robin McCormack said...

I just read 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' as well. Going to watch The Matrix now to see what ideas they pulled from it for the movie.

Mental multivitamin said...

@Girl Detective -- His style of writing began to annoy me after a fashion. What was interesting in the opening chapters began a gimmick -- a halting, stop-start, fragmentary narrative pace that didn't strike me as particularly journalistic. But it's a Chicago story, too, rife with references I "got," so I am glad I read it.

@Robin -- The Misses and I plan to watch both Blade Runner and The Matrix! So many movies, so little time.