Monday, April 04, 2011

Books I Read in March: 2011

March was a very special month for me because in March I met the author of The Book Thief, Markus Zusak. I went with my friends, Chris and Lisa, and my husband. We were only able to get two books signed each, but my good buddies were willing to bring my extra books through the line with me even though I was perfectly honest with Markus Zusak about the books and how they were all for me. Here's what he wrote in I Am the Messenger, "Dear Kacy, Here's to love, bank robbers that screw it up--and books..."He probably writes that all the time to everyone, but I don't care.

To my son he wrote, "Dear Sam, Here's to Jesse Owens impersonators and books." I like how he referred to Rudy in this one because Sam is about Rudy's age. Rudy is Markus Zusak's favorite character in the book.

To Maggie he wrote, "Dear Maggie, Thank your mum for this," which was sweet, I thought. He asked how old she was and whether I would give her the book now. I told him I'd probably wait a couple of years but she is actually reading it now. He said he didn't write it as young adult fiction. That's just the publisher he got.

And to my friend, Beth, who drove over to my house to insist that I read her copy of The Book Thief he wrote, "Dear Beth, Don't mind the Diet Coke--at least it's signed." I had kind of ruined Beth's copy and thought I would have to buy her another one. But in the end I gave her warped and ruined book back.

In addition to meeting one of my favorite authors, I also read some books in March.

Siblings Without Rivalry--It's full of great ideas, but none of them worked for me. Sigh.

Then I read As I Have Loved You. It's good, inspiring, and true. I recommend it.

The Discovery of Witches--It's equal parts Twilight and The Historian.

I hate this book. I almost quit reading it about 30 times. Usually if I am even inclined once to quit reading a book I put it down and move on to the next one. I should stick with that rule. I kept plowing through this because little bits of the story would interest me and propel me further but I hate the main character so much that the reading experience was very distasteful to me. She's supposed to be an independent academic but she spends the whole book being, literally, swaddled and spoon fed and put to bed. She is ostensibly a professor of history who starts dating (they go to yoga) a thousand-year-old vampire. You'd think she might have a few interesting questions for him about, oh, something to do with history? But she hardly asks him anything interesting. I guess because he is so sexy. You can read it--I won't hate you if you like it. But I will be interested to know if you do.

My mom loaned me Half Broke Horses after I read The Glass Castle.

I liked The Glass Castle better, but I really enjoyed this too. It is the imagined but basically true memoir of Jeanette Wells' grandma. She comes from an interesting family--that's for sure.

I also almost quit reading A Secret Kept. It's not that good. Once again, I should have quit reading at my first inkling of not liking it. Life's too short!

I never read Tatiana de Rosnay's first book, Sarah's Key. A lot of people recommended it to me though. The secret in A Secret Kept is pretty easy to guess. (Spoiler: Lesbians.) I did enjoy the writing but I don't get why I'm supposed to think the main character is so sympathetic because his wife left him and ALSO think his mother is so heroic for cheating on his dad with a (spoiler) woman. See what I mean? It's incongruous. You can skip it.
Mark Zusak wrote I Am the Messenger before he wrote The Book Thief.  It is not a great book.

But I did enjoy it. The ending has a major twist which he doesn't quite pull off. But it has a moral message that I really liked. In fact, it says some of what The Book Thief says about being a good person and that doing small, nice things for people might be the difference between losers and heroes. I love the writing and sense of humor--but of course, I know Mark Zusak personally. I don't heartily recommend it. You won't like it as much as The Book Thief. But it is a thousand times better than The Discovery of Witches. 

Then I read Real Simple Cleaning for a lark. 

It got me in the mood to organize some drawers. But then it snowed.

In April I promise myself I will not finish any books I don't like.


  1. but then it snowed... killed me.

  2. I love your book recommendations! I, too, often will push through a book I'm hating until I finish but almost always regret it. In the last year, I've started just moving on and it's really freeing! The most memorable book I ditched: A Fearful Symmetry. It was creepy and weird and not redeeming like her other book which I loved, the Time Traveler's Wife.

    This comment has horrible grammar. Meh.

  3. If you read Sarah's Key, the first half is the best part. After that, if you feel like quitting, do it. The rest was disappointing. (IMO)

  4. Sarah's Key--gag. I read it and was intrigued at the beginning but felt like it really felt apart toward the end. From what I remember her writing was riddled with clich├ęs. Riddled I tell you. But, compelling story. I actually don't remember the lesbian part, mostly the dead body part.

    I think I found The Glass Castle more compelling than Half Broke Horses because I knew it was all true. (or believed it was anyway...) But I still liked Half Broke Horses. Books like that make me want to be less wimpy.

  5. Oops, probably should have read your post a little more closely. Now I know why I couldn't remember any lesbians. Anyway, sorry for the spoiler but it isn't that big of a spoiler because the secret in Sarah's Key is also very easy to guess.

    Anyway, Sarah's Key is totally not worth your time. But back when my sisters and mom and I briefly experimented with the far-flung book club concept (far-flung as in we are far flung around the country), we first read Sarah's Key and then at my mom's recommendation, Suite Francaise (Irene Nemirovsky). Same time period, 100x better. And much more authentic since Nemirovsky was a Holocaust victim herself.

  6. Sarah's Key - gag - yes. And it is so popular with so many people I otherwise respect!

    I won't even bother with the second book.

    I have started any number of books and not finished them - so now I won't feel guilty about that - they probably weren't any good.

  7. I just want to find someone who DOESN'T think Mark Zusak is charming and loveable. Thanks for posting the video.
    And for promising me fame and fortune by merely mentioning me on this world-renowned blog!

  8. Good advice to yourself. I've given myself that advice. There are just too many books to read.

    I read The Book Thief on your recommendation and it was very good. I LLLOOVVEEDD his use of language and there were times that his writing really surprised me. I don't mean the story, I mean the writing. I liked that a lot. Thanks.

  9. Kacy
    I just read the best book. I have to recommend Room by Emma Donaghue. It's slightly depressing but I go for that kind of thing. I have a feeling you do too...

  10. The only book on your list I've read is Half Broke Horses, which I agree wasn't as good as Glass Castle, but I really enjoyed cuz I have a soft spot for Arizona history.

    And I'd like to stand up for Sarah's Key, which I didn't hate. It wasn't terribly well written, and it wasn't one of the best books ever, but it was medium entertaining and easy to get through.

    If you don't like secret lesbians, don't read Fingersmith.

    I'm reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks right now and it is really good but not really a page turner and so I keep falling asleep which is really too bad cuz now I've been reading for like two weeks.

  11. Oh, and I agree with Barb. a Fearful Symmetry was a big disappointment after Time Traveler's Wife. But I finished it, because I'm still having trouble chucking books.

  12. I'm happy for the warning about "The Discovery of Witches," because it seems like I should like it and I keep wondering if I should buy it or not. Now I won't. Thank you for the warning!


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