Books read in recent months… quick reviews

I have been terrible about recording what I have been reading and watching in the last few months.  So I thought as a way to start off 2015 without that hanging over my head I could just to a one line observation on each book. So here goes for the books.

  • English Passengers by Matthew Kneale.  Absolutely best book I read in 2014.  Enthralling throughout.  Manx crew takes a ship in 1857 to Tasmania.  Multiple points of view.
  • The Slap by Chris Tsiolkas.  I had been talking with an Australian librarian from Alice Springs at the IFLA conference.  We were talking about multiple point of view novels. She suggested this book and The English Passengers.  The Slap not quite as compelling, but I read it with interest. Recommended if you want a contemporary drama that stays close to familiar dysfunctionality.
  • Le Hollandais sans peine by Marie-Aude Murail.  Saw mention of this cute children’s book at IFLA.  Delightful.
  • Au Cinema Lux by Janine Teisson.  Read in French. Not sure if a translation or not actually.  I think was originally in Spanish.  Good short novel for 12 year olds.  Empathy? It’s got it.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir.  Given to me after father and brother read it. Two days to read.  Vastly enjoyable until the end, which I skimmed.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi.  Although I read it in under a week, somehow I never got into it. Was predisposed not to like: I find novels of cultural identity (Who am I really and why am I different from other people?  The answer is in something called culture or authenticity or recognition.) to be pretty slow-moving.  In fact, I do not think I could tell this novel apart in my mind from Ghana Must Go, a similar exercise.
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife  by Audrey Niffenegger.  Fluff. Read on vacation over Thanksgiving.  When you set your mind to reading fluff, it can be enjoyable.  But boy did this drag. Started jumping around like the time-traveller. Not even sure how much I read.  Realized after I had finished that Niffenegger has written the novel about the twin sisters that I never finished.  Still… very decent fluff. I like time travel novels and going backwards novels (in my mind the one by O’Faolain still the best).
  • The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman.  Got these at the library so no expenses involved. Holiday fluff. Extremely annoying fluff, but hard to just stop reading.  Something about both novels (I will not bother with the third) is off. The voice? The recycling of fantasy tropes? The admixture of smart and dumb?

Also a few things I have been watching that I enjoyed

  • Snowpiercer, on Netflix.  Great movie to watch after teaching back to back MBA classes.
  • Wallander, on Netflix.  I really liked it early on, but after the 5th episode I lost interest.
  • Broadchurch, on Netflix.  My sister recommended, but I was frustrated by the slow and moody pace. If I am watching a procedural I want procedure, not moody cliffs.
  • Boyhood, on airplane. Wonderful. not really something you watch a second time though.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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