Looking Back: May

A Graduation. Not mine. 

May was the month of my last round of law school finals, the beginning of bar review, and the joy of hosting my family as they visited me in preparation for graduation. Oh, how I miss those days. Yeah, right.

May also brought some rather eclectic reading. I read three books that I heard about through Three Percent, an organization dedicated to promoting literature in translation. I first heard about them when I was looking at reviews for Visitation, which I read in April and loved. However, I also read two young adult books and an autobiography that was out of my normal comfort zone.

Total: 8 books
7 fiction                          88%
1 nonfiction                   13%
4 female authors           50%
3 work in translation     38%

I Curse the River of Time, Per Petterson***I lovedlovedloved Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses, so when I saw he had a new book out, and it was longlisted for the 2011 Best Translated Book Award, I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me. Reading about an overgrown man-child quickly loses its charm.

Circle of Magic: Briar’s Book, Tamora Pierce****This was the final book in the Circle of Magic quartet that I read earlier back in February. It was a very quick read, and was very good, just like the others in the series.

The Last Brother, Nathacha Appanah*****This was excellent. The story of a poor family living on the island nation of Mauritius. All the sad stuff a reader like me could want: child abuse, death of siblings, sad WWII Jews being held in limbo. Depressing, and just what I go for.

The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht***Overrated. I know this won the Orange Prize, and it had its moments, but I just felt Obreht was over reaching. This review sums it up (even if Ms. Fisher doesn’t know it’s “Newbery”) She writes like she’s trying to please the grown-ups, and in so doing produces the good student’s notion of what constitutes a good book.”  Of course, someone could probably say similar things about The Last Brother, but that one worked for me while this one didn’t. I’m sure there are plenty of people that feel the opposite.

True Deceiver, Tove Jansson***This is exactly the type of book I’d normally like. Cold, close kept, emotionally stunted characters, secrets, mysterious motivations. It won the Best Translated Book Award. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood. I’ll have to give Jansson another try. Maybe The Summer Book?

Kiki: Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime, Albert Maori Kiki**Honestly, I don’t remember what it was that I didn’t like about this, but I just couldn’t get into it.

The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin***The book makes more sense than the movie. Other than that, meh.

The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman***
The second book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. We meet new characters without losing track of the old ones, and the mystery is expanded. Good times.

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