Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What I Read In August

I read some great books in August, so I thought I'd give you a quick summary.  I've linked to reviews, where I wrote one, or included my mini review from Goodreads.  And I finally figured out how to add my Goodreads links to my blog (I'm slow with this techie stuff!), so you can find that in the right-hand column. This month, I read and enjoyed:

Memoirs of a Geisha:
This book is a great example of why I love book groups so much. Of course, I read all the great reviews of this best-seller and heard friends recommend it, but it just didn't sound interesting to me. I finally read it this week for my library's book discussion, and I'm so glad I did! Within the first few pages, I was hooked.

This is one of those books that transports you to a faraway time and place. It is amazingly well-written (especially since the male author does such an incredible job of writing from the perspective of a girl and woman) and so compelling. Besides the intricate setting and descriptions of a culture far different than ours, I was fascinated by the moral complexities presented. The world of the geishas is one of contradictions - where orphans are basically sold into a form of slavery but also where prominent families may choose to train their daughters as geisha from a very early age. The geishas are thoroughly trained in the arts, respected, and even honored, yet they have almost no control over their own lives.

It's a fascinating, absorbing book. I can't believe I waited so long to read it!

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest:
I very much enjoyed this third and final book in Stieg Larsson's popular series. It was a bit slow at the start, with lots of details on Swedish politics and history, but I was pulled in right from the first page because I couldn't wait to find out what happened to my favorite characters.

This was a satisfying end to an excellent series!

Elvis & Olive by Stephanie Watson, a sweet middle-grade novel about friendship.

First Light by Rebecca Stead, a middle-grade audio book set in Antarctica.

The Little Book:
I never know how to categorize books with a time-travel theme...I suppose the theme alone makes it science fiction, but that never seems to fit quite right in a book like this.

I really enjoyed this novel about a well-known rock star in 1988 who suddenly finds himself in 1897 Vienna. As with all great time travel stories, it is very thought-provoking, as the man encounters both famous people - like Sigmund Freud and Mark Twain - as well as his own family members as young adults. I find the questions these encounters provoke endlessly fascinating: Can he change the future? If he interferes with his own ancestors, could he affect his own modern life? And in this book...if you could alter history for the better, should you? What unforeseen effects could result?

In addition to these fascinating plot elements, the story's setting in turn-of-the-century Vienna is interesting - I had no idea this time and place had such a profound effect on so many aspects of our modern life.

All in all, a very satisfying read.

Boom! by Mark Haddon, a hilarious British middle-grade audio book.

And now it's September - hard to believe!  I hope you all had a great summer!


  1. I liked Memoirs of a Geisha. Have you seen the film version?

  2. I just finished it at lunchtime today, Mary! I enjoyed seeing the visuals of the place and time, but it couldn't even begin to compare with the depth of the book.


  3. I agree with your assessment of the movie, Sue. I wanted to love it as much as I loved the book but, aside from the visuals, the soul of the book was missing.

  4. I loved Memoirs of a Geisha when I read it years ago. And I agree with you about book clubs. Sometimes we need that "reason" to read a book that we've been avoiding (or simply didn't know about).

    I'm also excited to read The LIttle Book. I love time travel stories. As you know, I've added it to my list.

  5. Bob Maxwell6:12 AM

    This was a helpful list, but would you be able to recommend any with a male as the lead character. Thanks.