Monday, April 22, 2024

What I'm Reading This Week (April 22, 2024)

 


I did a lot of reading this past week but much of it involved "test reading" of books to see if I really wanted to read them or not. I didn't decide to keep reading all of the books I read from, but all of the "sampling," in addition to firming up my "TBR-soon" list exposed me to a handful of books and authors I would have never otherwise have experienced, so it was all time well spent in the long run. And I did finish both Ian Rankin's Rebus novel A Heart Full of Headstones and Alba De C├ęspedes's Forbidden Notebook (more on those to come later this week, I hope). I added another not mentioned before, An American Dreamer, and decided to permanently table the Elmer Kelton western I was reading because it's a little too YA oriented for me to take it all that seriously right now. In addition to An American Dreamer, I come into the new week reading four others: The Plague, The Man Who Smiled, Displaced Persons, and Mercury.

Mercury is one of those novels my library system underestimated demand for, so it has a much shorter time-fuse on it than I realized when I first picked it up. That means I'll be spending a lot of time with it this week so that I don't add to the wait for those behind me in line. It's taken me longer than I thought it would to get into the novel's rhythm, but at 100 pages in, it's finally starting to happen for me. It's a coming-of-age story for multiple characters, and reminds me a little bit of the kind of story that Anne Tyler writes so well. The Joseph family doesn't know what hits them when seventeen-year-old Marley comes to town and catches the eye of one of their boys...and then another of their boys.

When it comes to politics, I like to think that I'm a middle-of-the-roader, but lately I find myself drifting toward the more conservative side of the line. Even my reading has started to reflect that drift, so I wanted to read a current book that I think is written from a more liberal perspective than my own. An American Dreamer by David Finkel focuses on an Iraq war veteran trying to reconnect his vision of what America should be with what he sees happening all around him every day. What first caught my eye was not the book's title, but its subtitle: "Life in a Divided Country" because of how sad I find that phrase to be.

I hadn't planned to begin Joan Leegant's Displaced Persons quite so soon, but I was in the mood for a short story one day last week and decided to read "The Baghdadi," the first story in this fourteen-story collection, to see what I should expect from the book. And I was wowed by it, to say the least. I know that most authors lead off a compilation with a story they feel is one of the strongest in the book, but this story of an American academic's experience with a Iraqi Jew who moved to Israel fifty years earlier is so exceptional that now I can't wait to read the other thirteen.

I'm in danger of not getting to three books that I just realized are not eligible for additional check-out periods, but I'm still hoping to get to one of them this week (probably by tabling The Plague again):




So that's the plan on this Monday morning. And now I'll see what really happens. Happy Reading, y'all...

8 comments:

  1. It's hard to fit in all the books you want to read, isn't it? Good luck this week with your current stack.

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    1. It's impossible, but I can't quit chasing that impossible dream. Way to easy to sell me a book.

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  2. Displaced Persons sounds very interesting. Since I am not buying books right now and have way too many short story books, I will just wait until I hear more about it from you, and put it on a list.

    I am also interested to hear more about what you think of An American Dreamer by David Finkel.

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    1. I think Displaced Persons is going to be memorable. It really seems pertinent right now with everything that's going on in that part of the world.

      An American Dreamer has been disappointing so far. I'm halfway through it, and the author has failed to make a point. It feels as if I'm still reading a vague introduction.

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  3. I hope you'll get to River East River West and let us know if it's any good. Sadly Life in a Divided Country seems to be getting to a fevered pitch again this year. I've enjoyed being off TV while on my trip and I'm sure my blood pressure is a bit less.

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    1. I hope so, too. That's the one that I most want to read while I have it. I plan to ask for an extension on it, but they don't always let me keep a book longer than six weeks, so I may have to pass it on. I know what you mean about keeping the TV news turned off; I dread even seeing the recaps anymore because it all seems crazy and absurd that it is actually happening.

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  4. I like your assortment of books this week, especially because most are unfamiliar to me. Mercury has been on my radar and sounds like a book I might enjoy. Finkel's book sounds especially interesting, too... I agree that the subtitle is just sad.

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    1. Mercury is starting to be a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. It's a good family saga mixed with several coming-of-age stories. I don't think it will be a five-star book for me, but it's closer to a four than a three, that's for sure. I'm disappointed in the Finkel book for reasons I'll be getting into later. Right now I would be hardpressed to give it more than two stars.

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