Books I read: April 2017

favorite books of 2016

I read 7 books in April – well, more like 6, because I started one in March and finished another in May. Heavy on the fiction this month – I’ve got a bunch of non-fiction I’m ready to get started on now that the semester’s over. (But also more fiction – always more fiction.)

I’m also trying out “star” reviews…not sure I like condensing my opinions into a number….let me know if they’re helpful!

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Redshirts, John Scalzi

If you know anything about Star Trek, you can guess what this book parodies. It’s an entertaining read, but I think it would have made a better short story – there’s only so much you can do with the central concept.

3.5/5 stars

Doc and Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell

Since Russell wrote one of my all-time favorite books, of course I’ve been picking up more of her writing. These don’t approach all-time favorite status, but they are still excellent, even if you think you have no interest in Western novels or semi-mythical events in U.S. history.

5 stars for Doc, 4.5 for Epitaph

The Autobiography of Mark Twain, volume 1; Samuel Clemens

I just realized as I was writing this up that I only have the first of three volumes of The Autobiography. This explains what confused me as I was reading: there’s a long section at the beginning explaining how the various documents that went into the book were reconstructed and compiled. Then there’s another long section of previously published pieces and unfinished bits, then finally there’s a relatively short section of the dictations that Clemens intended to form his final autobiography (as explained in the first section). I expected there to be more of the dictations, and it turns out there are a lot more – basically all of volumes 2 and 3! Those are going on my to-read list, as the dictation section contains lots of my favorite type of Mark Twain writings: opinionated and a bit cranky.

4 stars

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

This is one of those books about writing that everyone insists you should read. Everyone was correct. I usually conscientiously return books to the university library as soon as I’ve read them, but I might hang on to this one for the full year-long checkout period.

5 stars

The Invention of Everything Else, Samantha Hunt

This book is bizarre, in a good way. My husband also read it – because it’s about Tesla – and found the switching between present and past tenses irritating. I honestly barely noticed, because it’s also a p.o.v. switch.

4 stars

Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson

Hmm. I like the plot (up to the end), but I think I kinda hate the book? So Neal Stephenson has something of a geek cult following, at least partly due to detailed explanations of the technology in his books – and technology is always a major plot point. Cryptonomicon adds to the technology descriptions detailed descriptions of every. other. person, place, and thing in the book, and I would have liked it better if most of that had been edited out. But the thing that really sunk the book for me is that a complex plot full of cryptography and secrecy turned out to basically be about a treasure hunt (it’s not a spoiler if the book was published 15 years ago). I could read Clive Cussler if I wanted that.

Anywhere from 1 to 4 stars, depending on how annoyed I am with it at the moment

What’s your favorite book (or other writing) about writing?


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9 Comment

  1. I have Bird by Bird waiting to read, so I’m glad to hear it’s good 🙂

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      So good!

  2. Bird by Bird is a blast from the past! A friend gave it to me for my college graduation in 1999.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Show Us Your Books: May 2017My Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      It’s still good!

  3. Hold up a minute… YEAR long checkout period? Is that with your library?! I only get 14 days 😛
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: Easy No Bake Cookie Dough Protein BitesMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      It’s with the university library…perks of being a graduate student 🙂 The city library is 14 days for new books and 28 days for everything else.

  4. I think I DNF’d both Doc and Epitaph last year. I just couldn’t get into either, despite the fact that that era fascinates me.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      They are definitely very unlike typical westerns….much slower. I actually generally prefer slower-paced plots though.

  5. […] seem to remember saying that I’d be doing more reading once the semester was over. But between travel and, […]

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