2013 book reviews

2013 book reviews

All book covers snagged from Amazon.com

Yes, I can write one post with all of the books I’ve read this year. I am not as focused as my friend, Brianna, who read more than 120 books this year. I was lucky to eke out one every two months, and here’s what I thought of seven that I read. 

Why Have Kids by Jessica Valenti 

I like kids. I like my friends’ kids. They’re adorable! But I’m still waffling on whether I want one of those around all the time. (And, according to the media, that doesn’t make me an awful person anymore.) I was hoping that Valenti would give me some amazing insight and I’d be able to say, “AHA! That’s the answer.” Valenti has a child, so she should be able to tell me what to do, right?

Obviously, I was putting a bit of pressure on her. Valenti offers amazing sociological, economical, and political views of having children, especially around how little the US as a country supports it. But, by the end of the book, I just kept thinking that if I do have kids, I don’t want to do it in the US, so now I’ve added on the cost of moving to a new country.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan 

I studied psychology with a focus on mental health in school, so I was immediately drawn to Cahanlan’s story of the terrifying month where an autoimmune disorder attacked her brain, mimicking psychological disorders. I was gripped from the beginning because I couldn’t imagine something so scary, and, even thought much of that month was spotty in her recall, she painted it so well.

“We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it,” Cahanlan says. I cannot imagine something so scary. If you can look past the fact that this can happen to anyone, including you, you can really enjoy this memoir.

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

This is Jio’s third book that I’ve read, including The Violets of March and The Bungalow. It’s a good historical read and a nice escape, but I definitely found myself easily guessing what would happen next, especially as I got toward the end. I liked the characters and the setting, but I wasn’t as invested in the overall plot of the book.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

Everyone raved about Gone Girl. It’s been on all of the best seller lists. My book club read it a while ago. I finally got around to it, and it was definitely a worthwhile read. I won’t say much because it’s easy to give away spoilers, but just know that it’s a quick read, and while I definitely guessed some of the plot twists, I didn’t get the whole thing.

I preferred Flynn’s Dark Places to Gone Girl, but think this one is worth the read.

The Leftovers by Tom Perotta

I’m not sure what drove me to this book because I’m not normally into post-apocalyptic stuff, but I think that I liked that it wasn’t a dystopia novel. It’s just about a regular old town and how they deal with something life shattering. Again, I don’t want to give away anything with too much info, but there were a few things that caught me off guard in this novel.

Perotta has a way of making me care about each of these characters and wonder how I would react in such a situation. I drew a lot of comparisons to 9/11, good and bad, which made the novel a little more realistic.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Oh, Jeffrey Eugenides. I’m so happy that we found each other again. I read The Virgin Suicides years ago and The Marriage Plot drew me right back to Eugenides amazing writing style. He tends to tell a story, leave it hanging, and then come back later, often via another character, to wrap it up.

Yes, I was super annoyed by how smart/pretentious everyone in the novel was. Eugenides needed to cool off the big words a bit. “There are some books that reached through the noise of life to grab you by the collar and speak only of the truest things,” Eugenides writes, and it’s true. There’s something very coming-of-age about this novel, and I think that most people have been in relationships that they can compare to those between Leonard and Madeline and Mitch.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Since I didn’t want The Marriage Plot to end, I figured I’d jump into Eugenides’ Pulitzer-Prize winning Middlesex. Still coming-of-age, but this time—as a hermaphrodite.  I have no idea how Eugenides comes up with these stories and how he develops these detailed histories, but his writing is just superb. My complaint? Just like with The Marriage Plot, I wanted a little less at the beginning and a lot more at the end.

Read my full review (with spoilers!) over at Good Reads.

Have any recommendations for me for 2014?

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