The Compulsive Reader: Non-YA Books I've Read Lately, Part II

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Non-YA Books I've Read Lately, Part II

To see my first installment of Non-YA Books I've Read Lately, click here.

As you can probably tell by my sporadic postings, I'm right in the middle of my final semester of undergrad and things have been a little crazy. I'm writing essays, reading tons, putting the final touches on my senior thesis, and getting ready to present it in front of the department faculty. It'll be a rough couple of weeks. In the meantime, here are a few non-YA books I've had to read (if you hate these posts, don't worry, they'll pretty much go away for two years starting in July):

City of Women by David Gilham

I'm fascinated by World War II historical fiction, and I especially love reading about the war from unique perspectives. This book is about Sigrid, wife of a Nazi soldier in Berlin.. Sigrid is unhappy with her life, and has memories of a Jewish lover she once had before the war. When he resurfaces, she is pulled into the secret world of dissent and resistance, where her entire world view is challenged. This is an excellent book, very fascinating, and very chilling as you read about Sigrid's day-to-day life, not dissimilar from other women on the other side of the war, and her ignorance of what the Nazis are really doing to the Jewish people and countless others.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

I was really surprised at how easily I was pulled into Jacobs's writing, and in awe of all that she had to endure--she lived in the crawlspace of her grandmother's house, unable to hardly move, for YEARS to fool her sadistic owner into thinking she had fled for the North, waiting until she could get her children to safety and then escape safely herself. This is a wonderfully written account, and though it sounds cheesy to say, inspiring.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

This book has been buzzed about for a while, so I was happy to get a chance to sit down and dig into...and dig and dig and dig. It's a hefty 700+ pages, but it was very fascinating, and I loved that spanned such a long period of time. There were times when I felt it was a bit too long, and I definitely will need a little bit of a break before I pick up sequel, The Twelve, but I was fascinated by the biological experiments, the "vampirism," and the characters. If you have some time (maybe this summer, or a long weekend with a lot of free time), definitely pick up The Passage!

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The truth is...I would read Rowling's grocery lists. I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan and anything that its creator writes, I'm there. That aside, I had a hard time liking The Casual Vacancy, and it's not because it's not Harry Potter. I hard difficulties seeing where Rowling was going with the story, and the plot doesn't move quickly, yet I was so intrigued by all of the characters and the (slowly) unfolding events. Intrigued ans saddened and sometimes amused, but my interest in Pagford was like the interest one has in a car wreck. I wanted to know what was happening, but I wasn't particularly eager to know every lurid detail. Rowling sucks you in, though, and despite the fact that there are very few likable characters, there is an emotional connection that I can't deny. I'd recommend it, but make sure you know what you're getting into!

When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

I read this book as a part of the Sony Reader Book Club, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Ringwald is a good writer and I liked how she explored her theme of betrayal and forgiveness through short, interconnected stories. My favorite was "My Olivia" but there really wasn't a story in this books that I disliked. Ringwald looks at all sorts of people from all backgrounds and in all different stages of life, and the result is something that is beautiful, a bit heartbreaking, and very human.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

I am a reluctant Dickens fan. I had a bit of a bad experience in high school with Great Expectations, but I really enjoyed A Christmas Carol (who doesn't?) and I was optimistic with Hard Times. The title isn't particularly thrilling, but the novel was interesting as social commentary, still holding a lot of relevance for today (Hard Times for These Times). It's one of Dickens's shorter novels, I believe, and once you are able to keep the characters straight, the story moves pretty quickly. I would recommend it if you are interested in reading something by Dickens but you find the length of most of his novels a bit daunting.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

This book...I don't know how to talk about this book. There is no easy way to describe it, which may be way it seems daunting to so many people. I watched this Youtube video (spoiler-free) to understand how Mitchell wrote it. I think that it's really representative of Mitchell's talent and flexibility in writing (there are pretty much six genres in this book), and it's pretty entertaining to watch how these threads come together in all of the stories. I really do recommend it of you're looking for something new and different, or if you are a writer. You'll find it fascinating.

What non-YA books have you enjoyed lately?


LinWash said...

I still haven't read Justin Cronin's book or J. K.'s adult book. I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Loved it. And I don't usually read nonfiction.

Natalie said...

I really liked Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette. So interesting and different, and I loved the patchwork storytelling, the way you get to put the clues together before you even realize what you're doing. Thanks for the review on A Casual Vacancy. Like you, I'd read anything by JK Rowling. I've not been in the mood for it yet (I realize it's been out forever now :), but I'm definitely interested to see how it plays out.

Your reviews are lovely. I'm not sure if I've said hello before (hello! :) but I so enjoy your blog!

The Compulsive Reader said...

Linda: I have sold a ton of Gladwell's books at work and I keep meaning to read one!

Natalie: I hear that Casual Vacancy is out in paperback in July! And thanks so much for reading!

CEA Approved RES Course Provider said...

The post is pretty interesting. I really never thought I could have a good read by this time until I found out this site.