Fiction Read in September:
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin
When people saw me reading this book and asked me what it was about I kind of mumbled something about not being smart enough to explain it. In a nutshell it was about Kurt Godel and Alan Turing and their ideas about mathematics, philosophy and logic. It was also about the eccentricities of each man and their tragic deaths. It wasn’t a fun read or really what I would call an enjoyable read but it was an interesting read and for that reason I’m glad I read it.
Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney
Blech. Read for book club. I couldn’t get into this one. I didn’t like any of the characters and couldn’t get interested in what was primarily a character driven book.
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
Wonderful, sarcastic, clever epistolary novel about a middle-aged, bitter,slightly washed-up English professor at a small, not very prestigious Midwestern college. Told entirely through letters of recommendations that the professor is forced to write for his students, the story skewers academia and the literary world. What takes this novel to a higher level than just pure snark is the glimpses of true heart revealed in the professor and his colleagues. I would highly recommend this one for anyone who has ever had to write or read stacks of letters of recommendations and has had to parse the difference between “very highly recommended” and “most highly recommended”. This one’s for you.
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
I spent most of the summer listening to this classic on audiobook and loved every minute of the 27 (!!!) CDs.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Sadly, I am often the worst kind of reverse book snob. Or maybe I’m just a regular book snob. Whatever you call it what I mean is that I often hear of a very popular book and assume I won’t like it because it’s too popular. I’m not sure when I’ll figure out that sometimes popular books are popular because they are GOOD. Gone Girl was one of these. I admit to reading it because I saw the trailer for the movie and thought it looked intriguing but didn’t want to break my “can’t see the movie until you read the book” rule. I am so glad I read it. This was a burn dinner, ignore the kids, stay up way too late reading kind of book. If you’ve read it you know why. If you haven’t, stop being such a book snob and just read it already.
Bark by Lorrie Moore
I am not a huge fan of short stories. I like the character development that occurs in longer form fiction better. However, I have started to read more short stories because I am growing to appreciate the art form. Moore’s new collection is beautifully written but shows a more bleak side of human relationships than I like to see. I know bleakness exists, but I prefer it tempered with a bit of redemption. There wasn’t much of the latter in these stories.
Non-Fiction Read in September:
Dancing Fish and Ammonites by Penelope Lively
This was the last in a series of memoirs or sorts that I read by women (The Empathy Exams, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and My Life in Middlemarch being the others). Lively’s voice is unique in that it comes from a woman in her 80’s. She writes about memory and growing old and her life in books.