October 2022 books read

  • Fairy Tale – Stephen King, 2022. I loved loved loved the first part, a realistic modern-day story about a teen who befriends an old dog and her cantankerous owner. King is brilliant at depicting ordinary people and getting you to care about them. The rest, a fantasy quest in an alternate world, was nowhere near as compelling. But this book helped me realize that King’s sloppiness is probably part and parcel of his gift for breakneck narrative. I remember reading a review of Cujo (I think) by Algis Budrys (I think) where he complained that the car couldn’t have had the engine King described, a little detail that King could easily have researched to get right. I had similar “did rather spoil the joke for me” moments – where he describes a 1970s mall as having “a climbing wall, a trampoline area called Fliers, an escape room,” for example. Another annoyance was the heavy-handed symbolism of butterflies, all monarchs because that’s the easy/common choice. But if King were the kind of writer who finessed all the details… he wouldn’t be Stephen King and we wouldn’t have 80+ of his books. I often prefer quality over quantity, but quantity can have its pleasures too.
  • Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell, 2020. Read for Second Monday, but I only marked two quotes so not worth a whole post. It was good, but the choice to make the protagonist clearly William Shakespeare but refuse to name him a little annoying.
    • “her patience has slipped out from under her, like ice from under her feet”
    • “the body clings to life, as ivy to a wall”
  • À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs #1 & #2 – Stéphane Heuet, 2000-2002. The drawing quality is worse than the first one, but it was worth reading just to have a condensed review of the original. I would continue with these if any local libraries get the sequels… not worth inter-library loan.
  • Les Misérables – Victor Hugo, 1862. Almost seven months of the slow read book group, totally worth it and so much fun. Second set of quotes marked, TBD (first set from Great Books in June).
  • Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses – Robin Wall Kimmerer, 2003.
  • Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy, 1878.
  • The Ink Black Heart – Robert Galbraith, 2022. I loved the first few in this series, before JKR turned into a transphobe (Nathan J. Robinson’s essay is brilliant on the “limits of imagination” there), and I was curious about how terrible this book would be, at 1000+ pages and stuffed with screenshots of chat channels and tweets. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds, but it’s sure not good either. The plot is a transparent self-validation of a creator harassed by toxic fans, the chats/tweets don’t ring true, and it should have been edited down by at least half. Quite sad, but grist for my thoughts about flawed-yet-readable authors.
  • Greenwitch – Susan Cooper, 1974. Read for Annabookbel’s #TDiRS22. Another one in the Dark Is Rising series that was new to me.
  • How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion – David McRaney, 2022. Very interesting, especially the claim that our individual mental fallacies – stemming from laziness and bias – are often overcome when we think as a group.
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami, 2007. I listed to a podcast featuring three runners who loved this book, one who said it was his favorite book ever, far ahead of his second favorite. I’d been meaning to read it for years anyway, although I’ve yet to try one of Murakami’s novels. The podcast folks claimed it captured some of their thoughts and experiences of running in ways nothing else did; not me, and in fact what was most interesting to me was the connection he draws between the writing process and training for marathons.

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