Books read in January:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro. Effortless prose, but disappointing. Each story is told in the first person, and all of the voices sound the same.
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Easily readable and fascinating.
- The Voyages of Sinbad by Sherahazade. Did you know that Sinbad wasn’t the captain of his ship? I didn’t.
- 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.
- Sir Gowther ed. by Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury. Medieval romance about a half-demon who is very bad.
- Sir Isumbras ed. by Maldwyn Mills. Medieval romance reminiscent of Job.
- The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Fourth time reading it and still fantastic as ever.
- 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.