Thursday, May 31

Reading Challenge 2012: So Far...


Some would say, that at my current pace I'm behind on my Goodreads target. I however, would say that I am going at a leisurely pace. I am also spending a lot of time reading reports and things that will help me pass my MA, but will unfortunately not count towards the goal (I'm a stickler for the rules, rules which I invented no less).

So here we are 5/6 months into the year and I have read 3 out of 12 books. But don't fret, this time next week I will have finished the taught (i.e. 'not thesis') part of the MA, and I will have time to read all the books!
1. Anatomy of a Disappearance - Hisham Matar
Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness her strange death leaves behind. Until Mona.

We all know the saying about judging books by their cover, of course we do it all the time and I did it with Anatomy of a Disappearance. Nevertheless, I'll say it anyway "do not judge this book by it's cover". Not in a 'one is much worse then the other' way, but because of the fact that the cover affected what I was expecting from the story (Note: my cover wasn't the one above, but this one). Perhaps, with a different cover I would have approach the book itself differently. I don't know, I'm sure there are all kinds of studies that talk about why books have multiple covers and the readers they attract. 

Anyhow, before I go completely off on tangent, let me bring myself back to the story itself. I honestly didn't enjoy Anatomy of a Disappearance as much as I'd hoped. It felt that it was never quite sure what it wanted to be - mystery, romance, coming of age etc - not that a book can't be all of these things, but if that was the approach nothing really quite fit. By the end it felt a little lost, like it wasn't sure what bits to focus on or what tone to take, as a result it just sort of went nowhere.

(two more after the jump)


2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father's closet. 

I'm slowly becoming a bit of a Jonathan Safran Foer fangirl. I really do love his writing and I loved reading this book (granted I didn't love it as much as Everything is Illuminated, but loved it nonetheless). In both Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and the other pieces by Foer that I've read, there seems to be a lovely fusion of laugh-out-loud and sobbing-on-public-transport moments, and in every moment there seems to be a great amount of sincerity. I'm always left wondering if the experiences in Foer's books are his own or just so beautifully constructed that I believe every word (/fangirling).

3. A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
A Visit from the Goon Squad captures the moment where lives interact, and where fortunes ebb and flow. Egan depicts with elegant prose and often heart-wrenching simplicity, the sad consequences for those who couldn't fake it during their wild youth - madness suicide or prison - in this captivating, wryly, humorous story of temptation and loss.

I found out about this book through Blair and Terri, who both read this around the same time (from what I remember, Blair enjoyed it, Terri not so much). This was the first book I read for my challenge and having struggled with my first book last year, I feel like it's becoming a trend. It's not that there was as much to dislike about this book as there was with 'A Million Little Pieces', it's just that I didn't find it vaguely interesting or exciting. For a book that describes itself as 'captavitaing', I was never more captivated than at the time it came to put it down. 

A Visit from the Goon Squad felt like chapter after chapter of non-events, waiting for and expecting something exciting or surprising to happen, of course nothing ever did. I found the links between characters incredibly clumsy at times, in particular the final chapter seemed a little rushed - like the author wanted to play character bingo. Ultimately, I found it to be an incredibly disappointing book, particularly because of the amount of positive reviews I had read.

Tomorrow I am planning a visit to the local library, in order to top up my book pile, so I would love a few recommendations. After being mostly holed-up in my room since Easter, working on Uni assessments, I would love something light-hearted and funny (nothing too 'chick-litty' please). 

So, do tell, what have you been reading?

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