December Reads (2014)

December 2014

Wonder by RJ Palacio

In keeping with my self-imposed rule about not being allowed to select a book written for children and then complain about it being overly-simplified in parts, I won’t.  I will say that despite the book being predictable and a bit Pollyannaish, I liked the varied voices and perspectives of the narrators and can see this being a useful book in teaching empathy.  It’s impossible to ignore one’s own beauty bias after reading this book.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

I have read many enjoyable short pieces by Weiner – essays that make me nod and 140-character tweets that make me laugh out loud – but this is the first book of hers I’ve read.  I walked away feeling like the author’s strengths and the subject matter of this novel were an awkward pairing.  If you want to read a book about addiction, there are plenty of choices.  There are also plenty of subject matters other than abuse of opiates by suburban moms that would allow Jennifer Weiner’s wit to shine without leaving the reader with the unsettling feeling that the surface of a real problem has been scratched and exploited for entertainment.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

I enjoyed the mix of stories and practical advice this book and suspect anyone who fancies themselves a writer will too.

Fleeing Fundamentalism by Carlene Cross

As child who watched her mom water ski in a dress to avoid being immodest, it’s hard to overstate my fascination with religious fundamentalism.  However, this book didn’t offer the insights into fundamentalist fervor I was hoping for.  In the end, it felt like a story about switching allegiance from one narrow way of thinking to another.  The plot line of Cross’ dysfunctional marriage filled with debauchery and hypocrisy kept me turning the pages but this book didn’t do what I hoped it would.

Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn

This book is a satirical look behind the scenes of a literary prize award process with a full cast of quirky characters with varied opinions on what makes a great book.  This book was funny in an English way – smirks in place of belly laughs.  Every reader’s line between smart and silly is drawn in a slightly different place.  I found myself wishing this work of satire landed more firmly in the smart/biting camp but for other readers St. Aubyn’s choices might fell just right.

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6 thoughts on “December Reads (2014)

  1. I loved Lost for Words. I too-earnestly attend to all the prize long lists and short lists and best of lists, and this book in which the judging panel does not even read the books, poked fun at the whole list-making, prize-awarding endeavour.

  2. That was a really good and fair reaction to All Fall Down. I like her writing style so not worry I read it, but that book was really dark. And yes, maybe an awkward pairing actually.

    Totally know what you mean by British funny.

  3. I’m so happy to have found your blog! As another mother-writer making it happen, it’s nice to be in good company. Love your reviews, honest and concise. I just have away a copy of On Writing to one of my readers. It’s pretty great, but have you read Still Writing by Dani Shapiro? It blows me away.
    -Dana

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