January 2011

Books read in January:

  1. Sabriel by Garth Nix. I don’t know how it took me over a decade to read Sabriel, but I enjoyed it and would read it again.
  2. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik. Sequel to His Majesty’s Dragon, I was afraid it would be boring since most of it is sailing around the world, but it delightfully wasn’t. Also, the Chinese dragons are awesome.
  3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Now that I’ve finally read it, I can say that the film version is a good adaptation, but I still think her best work is Interpreter of Maladies — it won the Pulitzer for a reason.
  4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. A fresh and imaginative post-apocalyptic dystopia with survival skills. Excellent, and can’t wait to read the next two books.
  5. Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro. Effortless prose, but disappointing. Each story is told in the first person, and all of the voices sound the same.
  6. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Easily readable and fascinating.
  7. The Voyages of Sinbad by Sherahazade. Did you know that Sinbad wasn’t the captain of his ship? I didn’t.
  8. Passage by Connie Willis. This book could have ended around page 400 and I would have left happy. It didn’t. Disappointing, but I still love Connie Willis.
  9. Sir Gowther ed. by Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury. Medieval romance about a half-demon who is very bad.
  10. Sir Isumbras ed. by Maldwyn Mills. Medieval romance reminiscent of Job.
  11. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Fourth time reading it and still fantastic as ever.
  12. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Having read The Lady and the Unicorn and continue to dislike it the more I think of it, I held low expectations for this book. I was pleasantly surprised.

Best new read of the month: The Hunger Games.
Best (only) reread of the month: The Thief.
Longest book of the month: Passage (800 pages).

On Endings: More and more often I am disappointed with the endings of the books that I am reading. Sabriel cut off abruptly and then had a pointless epilogue. The Hunger Games would have been frustrating if I hadn’t known that there were two more books following it. Passage‘s ending dragged on for far too long and then didn’t really end. Girl with a Pearl Earring also had a pointless epilogue-y chapter. As a general rule, I am opposed to prologues and epilogues. If the author cannot include that information in the body of the narrative itself, then he or she isn’t trying hard enough and/or that information isn’t necessary for the reader to know. The former felt true for Sabriel (it had both a prologue and an epilogue) and the latter was true for Girl with a Pearl Earring. That said, Memoirs of a Geisha tied up its knots neatly, as did The Thief. Bravo.

It wasn’t planned, but three of the books I read this month have been adapted into films. I only remember the odd scene, the splash of colour, the music. Now I want to see them again.

Also, half of the books I read this month were in first person. The book I’m reading now is in first person, too. I might need to write up my thoughts on that at some point.

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