Recent Reads

I am happy with how my ’50 Book Challenge’ is progressing so far, having completed more than the necessary average of books per week so far this year. Here are some mini reviews of the books that I have read so far in 2011. (note: My copy of The Collector by John Fowles is not pictured, as I have leant it to a friend to read).

American Subversive by David Goodwillie
I picked this book up at a bookshop and was lured in by the interesting cover art. Thankfully it wasn’t too much of a let down (as it can sometimes be when you judge a book by it’s cover) and I did enjoy the book as a whole. The concept of the book seemed really interesting to me, but in my opinion the execution didn’t really live up to the storyline. The basic plot is that in a post 9/11 New York City a bomb is detonated in a building, and the media immediately assumes and points the finger at a middle eastern extremist group. A political blogger receives an email with an attached picture of a caucasian woman crossing the street in front of the bombed building, and the message “This is Paige Roderick, she is the one responsible.” I like the character development in the book, but found the lack of action quite boring and at times frustrating.

The Collector by John Fowles
I initially read this book in my highschool English Literature class, and had re-read it over the years, but for some reason I picked up a lot more about the story during this re-read than ever before. For one thing, I had always thought that the book took place in modern day Australia, but it’s in fact set in London in the 1960’s. I also found the story and theme of the book far more chilling than I ever did before. The story is split narrative between a middle aged sociopathic man and the 20 year old girl that he becomes obsessed with, and later kidnaps. I really enjoyed this book and got through it rather quickly (I think I finished it in 2-3 days) and the ending was as haunting as always.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusac
The immediate front-runner for my favourite book of 2011, The Book Thief was so incredible that I now count it amoung my favourite books of all time. (ALL TIME! …Okay, pipe down Kanye) I don’t think I’ve ever been as emotionally wrecked by a story as I was by The Book Thief, except perhaps while reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which was another emotionally gruelling literary adventure. The character development in this story was second to none, and it was probably due to my attachment to the characters that I felt so shattered at the end of the book. The Book Thief is narrated by death (if that doesn’t draw you in immediately, I’m not sure what will) and revolves around a young girl called Liesel and her life in Germany during WW2. I absolutely loved this book, and would recommend it to all who are in the market for a good read.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
I purchased this book as it was on one of the “top apocalyptic fiction” lists that I found online, and I’d read quite a few good reviews of the story on different book blogs. It’s set in the US in the 1950’s in a post-apocalyptic scenario that occurs after a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. As with most pre-21st century apocalyptic fiction, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, and dealt more with the coping mechanisms of the small country town than anything else. Having said that, it did a good job to translate the era difference despite the constant reminders as to how pathetic women are (thanks, 1950’s mentality) and the subject of segregation which is something I have a hard time relating to in this day and age. The ending was quite poignant and tied everything together nicely for me.

What are you reading at the moment? Any good book suggestions for me?

Books!

I know, I know, I know. I said that I was not going to be buying any more books for a while and yet, here we are. My justification is that in part of my new budget I have allowed myself book purchases at the start of every month. And what do you know, it’s the 1st of January! (happy new year, by the way) I am partaking in the 50 book challenge in 2011, so I will need plenty of new books to keep me going throughout the year. The 4 books I’ve ordered today all include some of my favourite themes – apocalypse, alien invasion and zombies. Awesome. Nothing too brain straining, but if I’m going to get through 50 books this year they can’t all be literary classics.