Thursday, January 15, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit (formerly known as Twitterature) to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern: Part mystery, part redemption story, part feel-good tale, this is the story of Kitty Logan, disgraced journalist trying to redeem herself by figuring out what her late mentor's last story idea was — all she left was a list of 100 names. A little cheesy at times, but very sweet. I liked it.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore: Funny at times, but mostly just stupid. I didn't find offensive for the religious elements but for the reductive depictions of women and minorities. Most people seem to love it, but no one in my book club had anything good to say about it.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Adichie is a very talented writer, and this is a frighteningly realistic depiction of life with an abusive parent who self-justifies with religion. Unfortunately not much happens in terms of character growth for most of the book, so it's just a really long and depressing depiction of abuse followed by a quick rush of events at the very end.

God's Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembène: The many characters and multiple settings made this difficult to get into, but ultimately I found this historical novel about the 1947-48 West African railroad strike interesting and informative.

Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals: This day-by-day memoir of school integration by one of the Little Rock Nine was valuable not only because I knew so little about how school integration actually worked but also because of her tips about surviving bullying, which for her was probably worse than what any student nowadays could possibly endure. (I mean, 90% of the school staff was in on it too!)

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: Another fantastic book from Moriarty. This covers difficult topics from school politics to childhood bullying to domestic violence and sexual assault, but does so in an eminently readable fashion. It's like a murder mystery, except you don't find out who gets murdered until after everyone's dirty laundry has come out. Really enjoyed this one.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: Highly recommended as an audiobook narrated by Poehler and friends. I had a little trouble keeping the chronology of her early years straight, but other than that found the book enjoyable, funny, smart, and valuable.

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson: I can see why people like this book and why it would be good to discuss in school (minus some racist language), given its firsthand exploration of what being a "foster kid" is like. However, I found the character growth unconvincing and the fat-shaming got old quickly.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: I read this because it was on my classics list, but it was a bear to get through. I can definitely see how it would be rich for literary study and interpretation, but as a straight-up read I found many of the stories terribly boring despite a few funny or interesting ones.

What have you been reading this month? Share over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

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  1. I read the Great Gilly Hopkins YEARS ago but I loved it a lot. Actually, I'm planning on rereading some old favourites this year and I hope that's one of them. ;-) So much love for Katherine Patterson.

  2. That's great that you liked it!

  3. I think the racist language in The Great Gilly Hopkins is one thing about it that SHOULD be discussed in school! Both that and the fat-shaming are excellent examples of Gilly trying to feel better about herself by putting down other people. I've read that book probably 20 times and prefer it to Patterson's better-known Bridge to Terabithia, which is a bit too overdrawn to seem quite real.

  4. What bothered me was that there were plenty of examples of these from the third-person narrator that were not necessarily because Gilly was thinking them. There was some awareness that Gilly herself was racist, but there was no indication at all that the author thought the constant (CONSTANT) detailed descriptions of Maime's size were problematic. I think if you want to have a discussion about these topics, there are better books that provide a contrast between characters who use prejudiced language and those that don't.