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Up Topic General / Letters and Opinions / January Book Club
- - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-03 9:18 AM Edited 2019-01-03 9:28 AM
A copy of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was in our Little Library. I knew that it was a big hit a few years back so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm about 150 pages in and am finding it entertaining. It's a fairly thick book but will be a quick read due to largish font and a lot of blank space at the end of each very short chapter.

While I am currently liking it I have a feeling that my enthusiasm could drop off as I read further. It's already starting to have a Dan Brown feel where everything looks like it will fit together too perfectly and predictably.

I'm sure many of you have read this book. What did you think? Please try to keep spoilers to a minimum.
Parent - By gadget girl Date 2019-01-03 3:39 PM
I found it engaging and charming, in a uniquely geeky way.  I predict that it will exceed your expectations.
Parent - By donnasaur [us] Date 2019-01-04 11:05 AM
I liked that book more as I was in the process of reading it than I did when it was over. So maybe I am confirming your suspicions. Overall I liked it.
Parent - By newfmrs Date 2019-01-04 11:35 AM
I enjoyed the book.  It was a little strange though.  I had a more difficult time feeling emotionally attached to the characters and their outcomes compared to a lot of other books.  Yet, the book overall elicited more emotion than most for me.
Parent - - By Arimathea [us] Date 2019-01-07 4:07 PM
I read it a few years ago. There were some surprises, and IMHO at least one scene that did not need to be in the book at all. But I think you may be glad you stuck with it.
Parent - - By gadget girl Date 2019-01-07 4:09 PM
you mean the scene where everyone dies?  I agree that was completely unnecessary.
Parent - - By Arimathea [us] Date 2019-01-11 12:47 AM
The scene where the girls are gang raped by the Russian army.
Parent - - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-11 7:39 AM

I’m not against a rape scene if it has a point to the story but this one didn’t. It came completely out of nowhere, was only a few paragraphs long, and then was completely dropped. It was just weird.

There were numerous instances where the author clumsily shoehorned things in that he thought belonged in a war story but this one was by far the most awkward.

The more I discuss this book the worse I think it was.
Parent - By Arimathea [us] Date 2019-01-18 9:20 PM
I agree. That scene was so random and so unnecessary. I think we all know that invading/conquering armies tend to use rape as a weapon of conquest, and the Russian army was particularly notorious for that. We didn't need to have it detailed.
Parent - - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-08 9:11 AM Edited 2019-01-08 9:21 AM
I'm roughly 400 pages in. The two main story lines have been in a holding pattern for most of the book, the plot is pretty much at the same place now as it was on page 90. The 1-2 page chapters have grown irritating and I'm finding them to be a cheap way for the author to keep the reader going. It's hard for a reader to quit a book when they can say, "well, I'll just read these next couple pages and see if anything happens." even if after reading 5-10 more chapters the characters are still doing the same things.

These short chapters alternate between characters, a technique that can work really well assuming that the character's stories are intertwined. So far this is only superficially the case. I expect a clumsy and abrupt crossing of paths at the end of the book.

I think that my biggest complaint is that the two main characters are placed directly in WWII yet the war seems to be happening around them rather than to them. There hasn't been any real sense of trauma, danger or urgency for either of them.* They seem to be nothing more than vehicles to move the plot forward, I don't feel anything for either of them. The secondary characters are even more forgettable.

As for the writing, there have been a few nice lines here and there but for the most part it is very simple. It reads like a book that was written mostly with movie rights in mind.

As of now I'm giving it a 6/10 but I could see that dropping (possibly a lot) if the ending winds up being as bad as I think it will.

*SPOILER - In Marie-Laure's case this could be explained by the diamond but that possibility isn't fully fleshed out. While I'm on that topic, the supernatural element of the diamond just does not seem to belong in this story in the first place.
Parent - - By jennyO Date 2019-01-08 12:46 PM
To my everlasting shame, that is one much-loved book I just Could. Not. get into.  I tried and finally gave up.  I consider it a personal failing.
Parent - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-08 1:34 PM
Coincidentally, three people that I work with were just talking about how good it is.
Parent - - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-09 7:17 AM Edited 2019-01-09 7:22 AM
I finished it. The encounter between the two main characters was as forced as I figured it would be and the last 50 pages or so was mostly unnecessary “where are they now?” descriptions of characters that played little importance in the story.

I never felt for any of the characters and didn’t get drawn into what little story there was. It’s a very forgettable story.

Dropping my score to a 4/10. I don’t understand all the praise.
Parent - - By Doughboy (spamkiller) Date 2019-01-09 8:58 AM
I'm with you on this one. Overall, after all the hype and accolades for this book, I was disappointed. It just didn't click for me.
Parent - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-09 9:18 AM Edited 2019-01-09 9:30 AM
I wouldn't have liked the book anyway but the level of praise it receives made it even more disappointing.

I know that it is aimed at adults but I couldn't help but seeing it as (average) young adult fiction.
- - By donnasaur [us] Date 2019-01-04 11:06 AM
currently reading "The World as it Is" By Ben Rhodes, who worked in the Obama White House and "Rich People Problems" The final in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy.

I finished 'Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret' this week, thoroughly enjoyable.
Parent - - By LDR (100 Mile Stud) [us] Date 2019-01-04 11:24 AM
[adding "Ben Rhodes" to my 2019 list]

I remember seeing/hearing him some time ago and being impressed.  The details escape me, but the impression he left does not.
Parent - By donnasaur [us] Date 2019-01-04 11:26 AM
he is super impressive, and the book doesn't really sugarcoat the stress and the personal toll working at the white house took on him.
Parent - By Doughboy (spamkiller) Date 2019-01-04 11:35 AM
Loved 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret. What a sad, frustrating life.
- By LDR (100 Mile Stud) [us] Date 2019-01-04 11:27 AM
Besides the NT Wright devotionals on the small letters in the NT, and the book on Luther, I picked up Scott Peck's People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil.  So far, really liking and learning from this book.
- - By newfmrs Date 2019-01-04 11:43 AM
I'm working my way through the Dark Tower series.  I've read the gunslinger in the past and just hadn't moved past it.  I reread it to start the series off.  I'm over halfway through wizard and glass right now.  Enjoying the series overall but it felt like a very big change of direction from book 1 to book 2.  I read at DS1's appointments if I don't have DS2 along.  His PT told me her son has met SK and been in his house.  I get a lot of comments since he owns a place close by.
Parent - - By jennyO Date 2019-01-08 12:45 PM
I would love to meet SK.  Lifelong fan, and I've read just about everything he's written, including his tweets now that he's active on Twitter.  Stick with the DT series.  He started it up again many years after writing The Gunslinger, so that probably explains the different feel, but after you finish the series you might reflect back and find substantive reasons why the tone/style are very different in that first book.  Or maybe I'm just projecting too much meaning into the ending ... I know some folks here would think so! : pbbt:
Parent - - By newfmrs Date 2019-01-08 1:09 PM
I've read a lot of SK. Not sure why I've skipped this series in the past.  Like I said I read the gunslinger maybe a decade ago and never moved to the next.  I'm sure I'll finish the series now.
Parent - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-08 1:33 PM
Didn’t like The Gunslinger the first time but once I saw it as a piece of the whole I appreciated it more.
Parent - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-08 12:55 PM
AWESOME SERIES. I’ve read it three times.
- By N70SAK Date 2019-01-04 1:20 PM
Intermediate Algebra, 4th Edition by Sullivan, Truve, and Mazzarella.

Mmmm... Mozzarella... Aghhghghghg....:hug:
- - By noquitter [us] Date 2019-01-06 12:28 PM
I just finished Noah's compass by Anne Tyler. I liked that book a lot even though not much happens.  A 61 year old man wakes up in the hospital after some neighbors hear a scuffle and find him unconscious.  He wants to know what happened although no one else seems concerned. :wtf: It's more about the quirky characters and his dry (but hilarious to me) sense of humor. I laughed out loud a couple of times. : pbbt:

I am off on my usual January flourish of reading withAfter I'm Gone by Laura Lippman, Always by Sarah Jio and The Clock Dance also by Anne Tyler.

After I'm Gone is about a man who fakes his disappearance to avoid going to jail. He leaves a wife, 3 daughters and a mistress behind.  The mistress' body is found 10 years later so that creates a little more interest in finding out what happened to him,

Always is about a a woman who is about to be married and then encounters a homeless man on the street that she recognizes as the former love of her life who mysteriously disappeared 10 years ago. The man has a traumatic brain injury and can't remember anything. 

I enjoy characters more than plots sometimes.  After I'm Gone and Always have intriguing plots (not so much characters).  The Clock Dance (like most Anne Tyler novels) looks like it revolves more around characters.
Parent - - By jennyO Date 2019-01-08 12:42 PM
I love Anne Tyler.  You're right that she does characters very well.  Never read Laura Lippman, but I've thought about listening to her.  I like potboilers for audiobooks because I tend to listen while doing boring chores like cleaning or laundry.  If I'm caught up in a suspenseful story, I don't mind the drudgery as much!
Parent - By noquitter [us] Date 2019-01-09 5:32 AM
I listen to true crime podcasts sometimes while doing chores or paperwork for the same reason.
- By Arimathea [us] Date 2019-01-07 4:20 PM
I just finished The Clockmaker's Daughter, Where the Crawdads Sing, and Small Spaces over the weekend.

First one: not bad. A few horrifying twists and I didn't think the ending was great -- some of the subplots weren't well wrapped up.

Second one: glad I got it from the library rather than buying it. I don't think the hype is justified. Not giving any spoilers but it was not believable. Also, a small point but one that irked me, the author apparently doesn't possess an atlas. If you're on the North Carolina coast and a couple of hours from Greenville by bus, why in the world would you drive all the way to Asheville to get stock for your auto parts store or to see the military about your pension? There are a lot of cities in North Carolina that are a lot closer to the coast.

Third one: good book. I will look for the second in the series when it comes out. I read YA books without any shame and this one was worth it.
- - By Tommeke Date 2019-01-08 11:08 AM
"The Girl Who Played With Fire" from Stieg Larsson. The second "Millenium Trilogy" book.
450/600 pages into the book, pretty much right before the showdown I suspect.

Obviously it's best to have read the 1st book (which I have) as the story builds further on the characters.
An investigative journalist and a peculiar very smart young woman get entangled in a bunch of seemingly connected brutal murders.
It's a very thrilling story and I actually like this one better than the first book (girl with the dragon tattoo).

I only have the 3 books Larsson wrote himself (there are 5 in the series but the author died after the 3rd book), so I wonder if the other stories are as good and worth reading?
Parent - - By gadget girl Date 2019-01-08 12:21 PM
I only read the first book which was enough for me, but do you notice that the author has an almost insane obsession with coffee?  It was strange but enjoyable since I am coffee obsessed too.
Parent - By Tommeke Date 2019-01-08 7:57 PM
Not the coffee per se, but I did notice that he gives detailed descriptions of some mundane acts performed by the characters. Like Salamander decorating her apartment and basically describing the whole process of going to IKEA (Sweden right :laugh:), selecting furniture (IKEA names included), installing it, etc...
It became noticeable after awhile.
Very Murakami like, really (he always describes what and how the characters are cooking and eating).
Parent - By noquitter [us] Date 2019-01-09 5:42 AM
I don't remember that and I love coffee. It's been awhile though. The first book started off interesting and exhausted me by the end. Also, I couldn't figure out why everyone was throwing themselves at the main male character. Was he really all that?
- - By jennyO Date 2019-01-08 12:39 PM
Recently finished a Val McDermid mystery, A Place of Execution and then had to watch the BBC miniseries of it.  Okay, okay, I watched before I'd completely finished, but then I did go on to read the rest of the book.  And I was glad I did because its ending was a little different (and more plausible).  Also finished listening to Tana French's new one, The Witch Elm.  I agree with many complaints that it could have used a lot more editing, but overall I liked it more than I'd expected to.

Now reading the George Saunders story collection Pastoralia.  I'd been saving this for some time because I find his writing to be such a treat.  I'll probably finish it tomorrow and will then start Karen Russell's Swamplandia!.  I have such a delicious stack of books piled up and waiting on my desk at home! :grin:

Listening to Michelle Obama's Becoming, which is so wonderful read in her voice, and the James Lee Burke mystery Light of the World, which is also wonderful because Will Patton is reading and he's always terrific.  I only recently realized my law school classmate Alafair Burke is both a published author herself and the daughter of James Lee Burke.  I had never read him before, but I'm enjoying this book quite a lot.
Parent - - By Arimathea [us] Date 2019-01-11 12:49 AM
Val McDermid is a good writer. I am waiting for the new Karen Pirie book.
Parent - By Arimathea [us] Date 2019-01-18 9:21 PM
Scored the new book from the library!
- - By cowboyjunkie Date 2019-01-08 1:53 PM
Reading The Walk by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King). I'm liking it. I haven't read anything by him in a long time. A friend loaned it to me. It's kinda funny because I had recently followed this ultra that has a last man standing theme.
Parent - By The Beard (is wearing Arm Panties) [us] Date 2019-01-08 1:56 PM
It’s a great read for ultra runners. :laugh:
- By Doughboy (spamkiller) Date 2019-01-09 9:02 AM
Started the year with Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, a sci-fi-ish thriller/page-turner. As I read it, I kept thinking: This was written to be a movie. After I finished reading it, I checked IMDB, and sure enough, it's in development.

Now reading Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture by Alice Echols. The title caught my eye as I was walking through the library the day after we saw the Donna Summer musical on Broadway and is certainly in my wheelhouse of pop culture/pop music nonfiction.
- By Xtreme Taper Date 2019-01-09 1:14 PM
Just started the Ender Shadow Series last night. First chapter or so hooked me in. It's basically a story that coincides with Ender's Game, but written from the perspective of a different character, Bean. It's an older sci-fi book, 1999.
- By Tommeke Date 2019-01-09 7:48 PM
did anyone read the non-fiction book "Bullshit Jobs" :wtf:
- By LDR (100 Mile Stud) [us] Date 2019-01-10 9:16 AM
I finished People of the Lie and was inspired to learn more about the author.  What I learned was disheartening.  Despite that, I'm reading In Search of Stones, which the library delivered to me in large print.  I thought it would be fun to read a book without reading glasses, but despite the large font, the words are still blurry, so I either wear the readers or hold the book out at arms' length.  :meh:

Also, N.T. Wright's Paul: A Biography, which is really good, and The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller, with his wife, Kathy's, help.  This one is pretty challenging, that is, if I'm reading to actually attempt to put into practice what the authors are trying to tell me.
- By triplejake (The Vampire Lestat) [us] Date 2019-01-17 3:15 PM
I'm about halfway through the first book in the Broken Earth Trilogy by NK Jemisin.  I don't read a ton of fantasy/dystopia type things, but I'm enjoying this one.
- By LDR (100 Mile Stud) [us] Date 2019-01-19 12:52 PM
Run with the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson, a book Bono said meant a lot to him.  Peterson's not my favorite author in this genre, but I'm warming to his style as I get further in.
Up Topic General / Letters and Opinions / January Book Club

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