Seven More Tiny Book Reviews

I’m linking up with This Ain’t The Lyceum to take a tiny tiptoe back into blogging after our loss last month. January was a deeply strange month, and my reading reflects that.

  1. The Time Before You Die: A Novel of the ReformationI…am not sure what I thought about this. The most beautiful passages were when nothing was happening, but I got lost or bogged down or made to feel stupid in some of the theological reflections. I also often didn’t understand why the main character did the things he did. But I was made to imagine in much greater detail just how terrible the Reformation years must have been in England, with all that flipping back and forth, adding emotional heft to the framework I gleaned from Alan Jacobs’s Book of Common Prayer: A Biography. (Bonus: it was especially interesting to read after visiting York and its amazing Bar Convent last summer.)
  2. 10 Blind DatesThis was very silly. I liked the big, roly-poly Louisianan family, but I couldn’t keep track of the family members themselves and a lot of it was just kind of zany without the delightful cringiness of Waiting for Tom HanksIt wasn’t awful enough to stop but never improved like I hoped.
  3. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Warthrust upon me by friends whose opinion I trust very much. Parts of it I really loved — especially the parts about reconstruction, as I’m always a sucker for a whole Rebuilding of Society motif (see my thoughts on Alas, Babylon,etc. here), but parts were just too gory or coarse for me, and I got lost in technological or geopolitical stuff sometimes, where I don’t have a strong enough background to differentiate the tweaks from the the reality. Some images were so striking, sad or ironic or beautiful, but a lot of it was just gross. I read it lying around with a cold and loved how fast it moved, but it’s not a world I feel like I’ll ever want to revisit — afterwards I had a nightmare about having to mercy kill Roo after she became infected.
  4. The BFG: I had read this as a kid but not in probably 25 years. The kids had watched part of the movie on a hotel TV in Kendal this summer, so we gave it a go as a read aloud, and it’s the only chapter book that’s ever held a toddler of mine in raptures. I think it was the BFG’s topsy-turvy way of speaking (I used a terrible Yorkshire accent) paired with Quentin Blake’s delightfully weird illustrations, but definitely a win for our family.
  5. 84, Charing Cross RoadI had bought this for a friend a couple years back, and when she moved, she gifted me a copy of its sequel (reviewed below). It is just the most charming, effervescent little book, a bit of You’ve Got Mail paired with something more determinedly refined in its literary tastes. Plus, epistolary!! I do love a story told in letters, though aside from C.S. Lewis’s correspondence, I can’t think of anyone else’s real-life letters I’ve read.
  6. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street: Using Google Maps, I was able to work out that Helene Hanff stayed at a London hotel only a couple blocks from our haunts last summer abroad. It added a poignancy to her journals of her dream trip to England, even if I occasionally confused the many bright characters she encountered.
  7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThis is a favorite of a dear friend, but my reading was completely overshadowed by IRL happenings, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake the association. But it kept me eagerly turning pages when I didn’t want to think about my own life, and it was just what I needed then.

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