Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book List for April

I have read some solid books this month and abandoned a couple in the middle.  I am going to finish up the month with All Things Cease to Appear, which I will review next month.

A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin: This was my first read of the month, and it was addictive.  The story focuses on a mathematician whose genius presents unique problems for his interpersonal relationships.  Switching perspectives part of the way through, the book still maintains its flow and shows the flaws and redemptive qualities of the characters within the pages.

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid:  An unexpected quick read, Hamid has crafted a tale of money, drugs, and morality in Pakistan that I devoured in two days.  The characters are tragically flawed, but the story keeps you hooked.  Told from different points of view throughout, Hamid gives you enough information to keep you holding your breath until you turn the last page.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli:  Don't let the title intimidate you.  Rovelli has written a simple book about complicated theories that anyone can grasp (and I never took physics in high school or college, so I DO mean anyone).  True, I can't discuss the more detailed parts of quantum mechanics, but I did grasp information that makes me want to do more research.  My biggest regret is that I wanted to read this one a second time and take notes, but another patron has it on hold, so I will have to grab it again later.  Big takeaways:  we know so much more now that we did a century ago; we still don't know that much at all.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood:  Mind trippy, for sure.  This was my introduction to Atwood's work, and it was quite an experience.  In the future, citizens who have fallen on hard luck can join Positron where they will live an ideal existence in the town for six months of the year and serve time in Positron prison for the other six months.  They rotate every other month so know one is in one place too long.  No joblessness, maximum productivity, what could go wrong?  I couldn't put this one down.  I was both parts obsessed and horrified by the situations unfolding in front of me.  Atwood effortlessly created a sci-fi story with twists and turns that didn't feel contrived or forced and left me thinking about the way the human mind works.

Money-Making Mom by Crystal Paine:  To be honest, I only made it through the first 100 pages and skimmed the rest.  Paine runs the Money Saving Mom blog, which I have read for years.  This book was helpful, but if you have already followed her blog, there isn't much new here.  Her stories about being financially responsible were easy to skip because we are already pretty frugal.  Basically, if you're new to Paine's ideas, grab this one.  If not, I wouldn't bother.

1924:  The Year That Made Hitler by Peter Ross Range:  This was another one I abandoned, not because it wasn't good.  Well-written, detailed, and interesting, this book seeks to explore how an uneducated outsider could become Germany's dictator, and it moves forward with the idea that Hitler's year in prison prepped him for his role as dictator.  The book also explores Germany's situation after losing WWI.

All of this was interesting, but at the end of the day I didn't want to read about Hitler.  I know enough about Hitler; he's been the focus of a million studies, and for good reason.  It's important to understand how something as horrific as the genocide he led could take place.  That's part of the reason I grabbed the book, especially during an election where I've seen many people justify unjustifiable behavior so they could keep supporting a dangerous candidate.  But part of the way through this book, I realized I would rather read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Corrie Ten Boom than about Hitler.  Again, this book is well written, but I tired of the topic quickly.

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