Summer Reading List

As the fall semester approaches, I realize my “reading for fun” time is sure to come to a screeching halt.  Instead of moping, I thought I would regale you with a brief review of the books I read this summer (and yes, I did not read nearly as much as I hoped).

Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin:

I love epic novels and this one didn’t disappoint.  The family lineage of each house was a fun challenge to follow throughout the plot and I especially appreciated the bits of magic sprinkled here and there.  However, I spent the majority of my time comparing it to Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, another epic novel in a similar setting.  Pillars is easily one of my all-time favorites and Game of Thrones didn’t even come close.

Now the debate is: do I continue reading the series because I hear it keeps getting better?  Or do I give up and spend my time on something more productive?

 Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James:

Stupid.  I wish I could leave the review at that, but I can’t.  I read the first book and then quickly read the next two in the series because I turned into a crazed preteen girl.  I do not recommend reading these books to anyone because they are so poorly written, the characters have no basis in reality, and the “vivid sex scenes” quickly blur into one boring romp in the sheets.  That being said, I dare you to read a few pages without quickly finishing the rest of the book.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson:

I honestly can’t believe I’ve been blogging for (two?) years without reviewing a Bryson book.  He is easily one of my favorite authors because his dry sarcasm blends wonderfully with his brilliant descriptions of his world travel adventures.  My dad also grew up a few streets down from Bryson in Iowa, so I see them as one in the same.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid did not disappoint, but it was not as ripe with wit as his other works (Neither Here Nor There had me cry-laughing on the bus to work).  I saw this book as a memoir of Bryson’s childhood in the 50s and a glimpse into a better time in American history.

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman:

This has been on my reading list for well over a year, so I was antsy to finally read it.  To be honest, I had a really hard time getting into this book.  It is a piece of non-fiction, but the author felt so far removed from the “characters” that I had a hard time investing in their lives.  I soldiered on and found myself marveling at the horrific parallels between the zoo animal genealogy and the Nazi’s quest for race “purification”.  Diane Ackerman paints a beautiful and haunting picture of one family’s struggle to maintain a zoo and simply survive in Nazi-invaded Poland.

What are you reading this summer?  What should I add to my reading list?

-Mads

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2 thoughts on “Summer Reading List

  1. Hi, Madsy! Just got back from a 4 day whirlwind tour of Mexico City for work, of which substantial airport time gave me the opportunity to get well into “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese. So far, it’s about twin boys born illegitimately to a surgeon and nun at a volunteer hospital in Ethiopia, and their lives growing up. It started a little slow, then is picking up. I also just finished “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson, also author of Devil in the White City and Thunderstruck. Stick with the Devil, as this one is an historical recounting of the US ambassador’s tenure in pre-WWII Germany as Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power. Interesting from a historical perspective if you like that. I found that I could put it down whenever I wanted, which isn’t a good sign.

  2. I’m trying to read The Zookepper’s Wife right now – I completely agree with that feeling of disconnect! I almost NEVER stop before finishing, but I have some great stuff waiting and am not sure after almost three weeks that I can keep slogging through. Those “quotations” are driving me batty.

    And Papabear – I really enjoyed Cutting for Stone (read it sometime last year, I think)!

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