Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Steig Larsson)*

My friend Elizabeth burned this audiobook for me, and my friend Sony loves it also, and a lot of people love it; I'm sorry to say I do not love it.

It starts with like three CDs worth of boring Swedish financier business, and then it gets into a plot that's interesting (if completely implausible and slightly predictable and maybe gratuitously focused on sexual violence against women) and then it ends... and then... there are three more CDs worth of boring Swedish financier business.

I can't help but think if Steig Larsson had lived, maybe people would have dared to tell him that hey, your plots need to go somewhere, and maybe it would be great if you didn't bore people to tears at the beginning and the ending of your book. And if your characters were just a tiny bit more realistic, that would be grand.

I do enjoy the Swedish touches like the crazy sandwiches everyone eats all the time (lingonberry and liverwurst and dill pickle, anyone?) and how people are just like "yeah, we're swingers!" and it is all okay and Swedish. But it left me with no desire to listen to the next book in the series. Which is a bad sign, considering that I voluntarily listened to Dan Brown.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Guinea Pig Diaries (by A.J. Jacobs)*

Another audiobook, this one read by Jacobs himself, which is very fun, because I love his slightly nerdy voice. It's a little bit of a hodgepodge, because he's collecting experiments he's done over the years, and not quite in chronological order, so there's no real throughline as there is with his other two books, where he spent a year doing each project.

But the experiments themselves are awesome. I seriously spent the whole chapter on outsourcing fantasizing about what I might be able to outsource. Grading? Blog entries? Writing my young adult novel? I did recently save myself a lot of pain by outsourcing the painting of our house. That went well.

Anyway, the book. It definitely left me wanting more, and I enjoyed listening to it. And now I have to go back to grading, because I haven't yet outsourced it, and I'm going to stop typing...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Never Let Me Go (by Kazuo Ishiguro)

This is a novel on the Time 100 booklist that I have heard people rave about for years, and which I borrowed from a friend in my book group. I started it before bed, then stayed up late finishing it and I already want to re-read it. Melancholy, haunting, strange, compelling. I feel like I'll break the spell if I say too much--you're better off not knowing anything at all going into it. But it's just as good as The Remains of the Day and that's really saying something. It's just good in a completely different way. But I think it's another one, like Remains, that will stick with me.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Teen Idol (by Meg Cabot)*

Another audiobook checked out from the library, a fluffy read for my drive that touches on some of the same themes as my own YA novel in progress, and very fun. (Meg Cabot also wrote The Princess Diaries series, which I love and adore.)

The narrator is a lispy teenager who sounds like she has braces; I looked on the cover and it said she also played Zoey Bartlett on The West Wing, but I had no idea that Zoey was played by.... Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men! All cute and teenagery!

Anyway, I don't have anything profound to say about the book, except that it was very fun and very Cabot-esque and I enjoyed the characters and it kept me entertained during my commute this week. Next up, either Jonathan Lethem's new book (which I downloaded from the library onto my new iPod, so I have to see if it will play in my car, which has a funky build-in iPod dock...) or A.J. Jacobs's new book, which is my backup!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

On Beauty (by Zadie Smith)

Read for book club. I loved White Teeth but was incredibly disappointed in On Beauty. All the characters (even the American ones) talk like they're British, and Howard is so unbelievably unsympathetic a man-child that the "moment of redemption" at the end feels like a total cheat. I did like the characters of the kids, especially Zora(although Jerome is really barely even explored), but why did Howard and Kiki even get married? They seem to have zero in common. And why would his rival even be a Rembrandt scholar in the first place? It all feels very contrived. Blech. Disappointing.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Lost Symbol (by Dan Brown)

I will seriously never read one of Dan Brown's books except in audiobook, because somehow when it's in audio and I'm not 100% paying attention, I really enjoy the hell out of his books.

Now that I've finished it (and gotten through the ridiculous ending, oh my god), I'm enjoying reading the Amazon reviews complaining about the plot holes. (I noticed a lot of the plot holes myself; there are a lot of really stupid things happening in this book.) However, it kept me entertained, and there was one twist at the end that made me gasp. (Then again, The Sixth Sense fooled me too--I'm a sucker for twist endings.)

Really, even though I had to scribble everything down while driving, I kept a list of things that make no sense, mostly involving the characters--who are supposedly brilliant--being alternately stupid, dense, or extra stupid and dense. But it was a great driving book.

My next audiobook is On Beauty, which I'm reading for book club. It's definitely not a brain candy book like the last two, so here's hoping I can still manage to listen while driving!