Fiction Read in April:
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Epic saga of brothers who grow up in India and then end up with very different lives. Lahiri follows the modern trend of using multiple perspectives and having each chapter be almost a short story in itself. This particular style always leaves me feeling slightly detached from the characters and it’s not my favorite format but still she writes beautifully and I’m not sorry I read it.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My book club picked this one to read (before it won the Pultizer, leading us to coin the term “book hipster” to express how we are on the leading edge of the book world, if not fashion world). This is a LONG book, and probably could have been edited. Still, for the most part it was a page-turner. Tartt tells a compelling story that is on one level a mystery/thriller centering around a stolen painting and on another level a coming-of-age story. And on yet another level it’s an exploration of big themes like whether good can come from bad and whether people can change and whether or not fate is real or things just happen for no reason. I’ve seen it compared to Dickens (especially David Copperfield and Great Expectations) and that’s a very apt comparison.
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak
Novak is probably best known to most people as Ryan from The Office. He was also one of the writers and producers of The Office. One More Thing, his first book, is a collection of short fiction. Some is very short (think more of a several lines joke), some are sketches and some are more traditional stories. Novak is clever, funny and obviously smart (he’s a Harvard grad in addition to his other accomplishments). His voice is cynical and acerbic and reading these altogether left me feeling slightly depressed. Some of these are quite funny: a short sketch starring Wikipedia Brown and an updated Aesop’s Tortoise and the Hare fable were favorites. I think I would have enjoyed the rest of the sketches more if I’d read them a few at a time, rather than all in one chunk. Unfortunately, it was due back at the library so I had to binge read and ended up feeling a bit hungover.
The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King (audiobook)
Continuing the Holmes/Russell series, this was the first one I’ve listened to that I hadn’t previously read. Just as good as the others.
Non-Fiction Read in April:
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile and it was worth the wait. Fascinating. I read huge sections aloud to H. and probably bored lots of other people talking about it.