Book Club 101

book1Wow, can you believe it’s the last day of August? The Christmas shop ’round the corner from us opens for the season tomorrow! This year is going by so fast…

Today I thought I would take a little step away from craft projects, and share with you something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Aside from crafty things, my favourite hobby is reading. This year, I challenged myself to get through 55 books, and have really tried to branch out in what I read. I love reading and writing book reviews, so I thought that perhaps once a month I would share with you some of the books I have read. I would love to hear any of your comments or thoughts, and I would even more love to get some book suggestions if you have any! 

Of course, if you hate books and think reading is for losers, then you should probably skip this one…

Book Club: August 2014

This month I have read:

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (thriller)
  • Ice Station by Matthew Reilly (thriller)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey (memoir)
  • The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (young adult)
  • Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)
  • My Booky Wook by Russell Brand (memoir)
  • Inferno by Dan Brown (thriller)
  • The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin (self help/memoir)

Summary

This month saw a foray for me into two genres I have never read before: memoir/autobiography and self help. I had been wanting to read Bossypants and My Booky Wook for some time, and finally picked them up. What I discovered was that there’s a reason I don’t read memoirs – I don’t love them. While I enjoy the insight into people’s lives – especially celebrities – I found the result to be very manufactured. Also, I found that both these books tended to linger on ‘unimportant’ (to me) events, and skimmed over the parts that I most wanted to know about. For Tina Fey, I would have loved to hear about Mean Girls and the process of making 30 Rock; for Russell Brand, I would have been interested to read a more in-depth account of his recovery from drug addiction.

My sister bought me The Happiness Project for my birthday this year. The author definitely had some good ideas and suggestions. Unfortunately, she was also a know-it-all, which bugged me (probably because I, myself, am quite a know-it-all). I felt like the tone was a little condescending. I think it would be fair to say that I really enjoyed the parts that made open-minded suggestions, and I was annoyed and alienated by the parts that told me what to do. Still, an interesting experience, and I’m glad I read it. It gave me some really useful strategies for improving my everyday happiness, and I have been implementing them to great success.

Overall, I haven’t really truly loved any of the books I read this month (although I haven’t hated any either). Gone Girl was very promising at the start, but really got on my feminist nerve from about half way through. I found the ending particularly heinous, from a feminist point of view, and also from the point of view of someone who likes good endings to books. Still, it was a fast-paced, fun, creepy and interesting read, and I’m quite looking forward to seeing the movie.

I also should mention The Gathering Storm and The Towers of Midnight, both of which are part of the late Robert Jordan’s magnificent fantasy epic, The Wheel of Time. Jordan died before he could finish his series, which at that time was 11 books long, most weighing in at around 800 pages. Both The Gathering Storm and The Towers of Midnight were written after Jordan died, using his notes and suggestions, by Brandon Sanderson, another fantasy author whose works I have yet to check out. Sanderson did a great job with taking over the Wheel of Time, but it is still so upsetting that we never got to see the series finished by its creator. Sanderson has, out of necessity, picked up the pace ten-fold. This has been exciting, but also means that some of the joy of the characters is lost. Still, it would have been an incredibly daunting task. I’m reading the final book of the series at the moment, A Memory of Light, and I’m feeling really sad to finally finish this series that I’ve been following since I was 13. I would urge anyone who has a love of fantasy/giant books/epics to give The Wheel of Time a go.

Mini Reviews:

Gone Girl: A fast-paced, psychological thriller that examines marriage, manipulation, crime and punishment… and a couple of sociopaths.

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three-stars-hiIce Station: Another fast-paced thriller, with a military edge – the main character is a marine – that is completely divorced from reality, physics and science of any type, but nevertheless good fun and full of gunslinging action (and the author is Australian!).

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three-stars-hiBossypants: A somewhat short account of Tina Fey’s early childhood and rise to fame that is chock-full of self-deprecation and a few funny anecdotes; overall, a little light and fluffy, and kind of like an episode of 30 Rock.

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three-stars-hiThe Gathering Storm: The 12th book of The Wheel of Time, and the 1st written by Brandon Sanderson, this book ties up loose ends, resolves a couple of questions, and gets the plot moving from the glacial pace it had before.

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four-stars-hiLooking for Alaska: The first novel by John Green (of The Fault in Our Stars fame), this YA offering was full of youthful antics, bucket-loads of angst, and some very un-teenager-like dialogue. While the first half built up a good sense of mystery and tension, the second half fell a little flat for me.

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three-stars-hiTowers of Midnight: The 13th Wheel of Time book continued the tradition of the 12th, but some glaring omissions (I hesitate to say plot holes) left me feeling like this effort may have been rushed – which I’m sure it probably was, considering the pressures placed on Sanderson.

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five-stars-mdMy Booky Wook: A story of Russell Brand’s childhood, youthful delinquency and drug-addiciton, which exposed his terrible behaviour, but was nonetheless very open, very honest, and quite endearing; I felt it could have benefitted from some careful editing, however, as it jumped and dragged in places.

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four-stars-hiInferno: I’m not going to lie, it took me more than a year to finally finish this book; it was similar to Dan Brown’s past bestsellers (The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol), but dealt with overpopulation, the black death, and Dante’s Inferno.

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three-stars-hiThe Happiness Project: A self help/memoir detailing the author’s ‘Happiness Project’ – a year of resolutions and research designed to improve her day-to-day happiness without making a huge change to her lifestyle.

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three-stars-hi

So that’s my reading list for this month…. Next month is September, which means the return of September Short Projects, woo! I might not get through as many books, but we’ll see how we go. Happy last day of winter!!

PS – if you like book reviews, check out my Reading List for 2013.

 

4 thoughts on “Book Club 101

  1. Georgia says:

    Great post! I found what you said/wrote about the celebrity memoirs quite interesting.
    You’re a very impressive reader!!

  2. Jacinta says:

    I’ll be luck to get through the book I am reading in the next 2-3 months let alone all the books you have recently read. Great that you can read such a diverse range of titles even if they aren’t all fantastic. Good luck with your goal and looking forward to the next book summary :)

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