I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t get to spend as much time reading as I used to. Pretty much the only time I open a book anymore is right before I fall asleep at night, which is to say I maybe get one or two pages in before slumping into an openmouthed, snoring coma.
Therefore, I really don’t want to spend my minimal amount of reading energy on an “eh” book, you know? And while I feel kind of bad making recommendations for or against books here (such a totally subjective topic), what the hell, let’s talk about the best things we’ve read lately — and the don’t-waste-your-time ones, too.
Best recent reads:
No Country for Old Men. You saw the movie (or you should have, because wow), now read the book. I have a new appreciation for the film, because it so faithfully captures the tone of this amazing novel. Sparse, grim, funny, it’s all there. This man can write like no one on else, and while I’ve only read two of his other books (All the Pretty Horses and The Road), I plan to eventually make my way through them all.
The Glass Castle. A fantastically detailed, nearly unbelievable account of the author’s eccentric upbringing with two batshit-crazy parents. Hilarious, tender, dramatic, and with no real sense of bitterness or shame. This is a short, entirely entertaining read, and if it turns out not to be 100% true — a la James Frey — I don’t care one bit.
The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup. This collection of 20 essays by Susan Orlean (author of The Orchid Thief [also, subject of Adaption] and New Yorker staff writer) profiles various people from the unknown to celebrities. Published in 2000, the subjects include then-underwear model Marky Mark and teen sensation Tiffany, as well as Tanya Harding and Bill Blass — but it doesn’t really matter who she’s talking about, every essay is fascinating and perfectly crafted.
My Sister’s Keeper. To be fair, I probably would have liked this book more if I hadn’t had my expectations built up by all the people who recommended it to me. I was initially drawn in by the unique subject, but I thought it got annoyingly diluted by the various side plotlines. As for the ending, while I don’t certainly don’t require a Hollywood perfect wrap-up, without getting into spoiler territory I found it highly unsatisfying.
Look Me In the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s. This is a memoir by John Robison (brother of author Augusten Burroughs), detailing his life with Asperger’s Syndrome. I kept losing interest in this, maybe because of the dry nature of the author’s style. It’s a great look into the thought processes people with this condition tend to experience, I just couldn’t stay engaged with it.
Then We Came to the End. I really wanted to like this, because I recently bought it as a gift for a family member, but despite being reviewed as “wildly funny”, “brilliant”, and “compelling”, I didn’t find any of those descriptors to be true. The use of the first-person-plural was initially interesting but I found it alienating after a while, the story never drew me in, and it lacked the sharp snark I had hoped for.
And there’s my $.02, worth just about exactly that. What have you been reading lately that you’d recommend — or recommend against?