Friday, June 24, 2011

Books of June

I've been reading a lot recently, and between my reader's log--a blank book with penned-in, one-sentences descriptions of what I've read--and Good Reads, the website that's represented by the widget to the right of this post, I think I'm keeping track of what I'm reading.

I noticed some discrepancies this evening--books I'd written down in my log that I haven't yet put on Good Reads. Nice to have both options! I have to say, though, despite what they say about "nothing ever goes away on the web," I feel like the log is the more permanent list. I mean, I still have my mom's reading log that she kept in the 5 years or so before her stroke.

Here are a few books I've liked a lot recently:
Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff

I don't usually like histories, but historical biographies, with their focus on the life story of one person, fascinate me. This one did, and the author was working with pretty scanty materials. Or maybe I should say LOTS of not particularly accurate materials. She did a great job of sifting through to give a sense of what Cleopatra's culture was like, and what her life did and might have involved. Lots of triangulation between varying sources, many of which were very anti-Cleopatra.
Murder in Passy by Cara Black

Can't remember when I started reading Cara Black's series of detective stories set in 1990's Paris. They're fun, with a sense of that city's shadow side--not the side we tourists see! The main character, Aimee Leduc, is spunky and smart.
Private Life by Jane Smiley

Read this book!--or at least read it if you love big, fat, juicy novels that you can just sink into--and that also give you something to think about. I loved the way this one revealed the meaning of everyday interactions and daily tasks and revealed the life of a thoughtful yet retiring woman. My one-sentence review is: "Midwestern 'spinster' marries handsome genius and lives in his shadow (along with other lively characters) until she discovers his secret--mental illness."

This one gives a great sense of the history of the turn of the century through WWII--these events affect the characters and help drive the plot, which is at turns exciting and heartbreaking.

The Pain Chronicles by Melanie Thornstrom

I heard the interviews with the author on NPR when this book first came out, but lost track of the book until I spotted it at the library. I'm so glad I found it--I loved reading this compellingly-written page-turner of a book. It's one of my favorite genres: lively, personal writing about a scientific topic. My review: "The author, who suffers from chronic pain, explores the myths and science of pain and suffering."

OK, so now I can submit my list to the adult summer reading program at the library. I'm hoping to win a Nook.

I need a new book--hate to be without one! Any suggestions?


Jane said...

Another one I forgot: Dark Matter by Philip Kerr. My review: Isaac Newton and his clerk solve a mystery involving coins and alchemy.

Ken said...

Have you ever read Karin Slaughter?

I'll have to try the Cara Black series. I have enjoyed the Italian detective series by Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin, and Andrea Camilleri.

Ken said...

Have you ever read Georges Simenon?