Sunday, November 20, 2016

5 More Contemporary

I tend to read a lot of classics for some reason. I enjoy classics but they are certainly slower reads. Every now and then it is nice to pick up a book and move through a few hundred pages in just a couple of days. Here are five I read this year that were neither on my original New Year's list nor on my Summer Reading list- just five more contemporary books I picked up throughout the year:

1) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I think I held off on this one for a while because I thought it was supposed to be intense or scary. It was definitely suspenseful and the kind of book you were glad to be reading before dark when it came down to the last hundred pages or so. I solved the mystery with only about 85 pages left. I'd be interested to see how quickly others got there. I'm sure plenty of people would say they knew all along. But I hope not as I think the not knowing is what makes you want to keep reading!

2) The Matchmaker by Elin Hildebrand - I enjoyed The Blue Bistro last summer and thought I may enjoy another of Hilderbrand's novels, so I chose the one with the highest star rating on Amazon. I remember that there was a trashy feel to The Blue Bistro that was overshadowed in my memory by the yummy description of the foods! But if you strip away the bistro, you are just left with Elin's trashy characters. Somehow I couldn't like anyone in this book. And I don't really remember liking the people in the other book. I'm not going to say this is a rule for Hilderbrand, but maybe? Maybe she just writes characters that I find utterly hopeless and godless. Interestingly, if I had read the Amazon reviews instead of going with the highest average, I would've seen that the top five most helpful reviews for this one were all one and two star reviews. It seems like a lot of people hated this one and hated the characters in it, particularly the main character. Many of them claim to generally enjoy Hilderbrand so maybe I'll give her another chance another time. This one is definitely one to skip though.

3) Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty - I really like Moriarty. I am pretty sure I have read her entire body of work. I was one of the first in line for this book at the library so I was able to read it right away. It was not as good as two of her others that I have loved- What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies.  I gave those two titles to my older sister for her birthday and she loved them as well. I have passed along the recommendation to many and have never had anyone come back and say yuck. So if you are looking to read Moriarty for the first time, I would go with one of those two. But if you are a longtime Moriarty fan, this one is also worth the reading.

4) A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - This is one that it seemed like a lot of my friends read but no one really recommended to me. I never heard anything bad but I never heard rave reviews either. Then one day I said something that made someone think of the book and whatever they said made me want to read the book. Of course I can't remember what they said at all now.  So now that I have read it, I wonder if I was being likened to Ove?! I hope not! Not that Ove is not a good guy, but either I don't know myself at all or this person does not know me at all because I see very little similarity between him and me. Maybe it was the whole loving your neighbor thing that they brought up. I don't know. Anyway, I can see why no one ever raved. Something about it is slow and not compelling. There's no sense of "I can't wait to see what happens!" However, it's a good story and it is good that people in our society are reading it. It is a story of loving one's neighbor and being part of a community even if they are not the people you would've chosen. It is a story where love wins. It's interesting to think of what one's motivation for loving one's neighbor would be when one is not compelled by the love of Christ or thoughts of eternity (though Ove does seem to believe in an eternal afterlife). It makes me wonder if Backman is a Christian. I read that he studied religion so he would at least be familiar with the teachings of Jesus. As I write, I realize there is a lot of room for discussion here. This is another one I'd say is definitely worth reading.

5) Belgravia by Julian Fellowes - I really wanted to like this one. The author is the creator of Downton Abbey, after all. But it was a bit tedious. The main characters were more or less senior citizens and their greedy heirs. It picked up about halfway through, but the book is 400 pages long, so you're talking about suffering through 200 pages of social politics of early Victorian England (which is more or less the same as that of Regency England which Jane Austen writes about so much more interestingly). I do think it would work better if translated to the screen, which I can imagine it will be eventually anyway. I did read that Fellowes is working on another project for television called The Gilded Age, a period drama set in New York in the late 19th Century.

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