Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Looking Back: March

Time for the third installment of looking back at my pre-blogging days.

March is actually when I thought about starting reviewing books. I read several books and had strong reactions to them, but no one to talk to about them. I actually started writing a review of Visitation without knowing if, when, or where I'd eventually post it. It turned out to be one of the very first posts on this blog.

So what did I read?
Total: 6 books
5 fiction                          83%
1 nonfiction                   17%
3 female authors           50%
1 work in translation    17%

Visitation, Jenny Erpenbeck*****This is the book that started it all. Click here to read my full review.

The Fourth Hand, John Irving***If you've never read John Irving, don't start here. It's funny - I see I gave it three stars, so I must have thought it was pretty decent. Looking back now, I'm remembering mainly the parts I disliked. Irving does have a acerbic sense of humor and a gift for describing a scene that is truly wonderful. Towards the beginning of the book he talks about a doctor going for a run and batting abandoned dog poo off a bridge towards university rowers out practicing. It's brilliant. He's also a master at capturing children's characteristics.

Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury***I read this for a negotiation class I took. It's a good overview of how to change the dynamics of a competitive negotiation situation.

Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga****The story of a young girl growing up in Zimbabwe. Complex look at woman's place in family relationships and traditional values versus modern times.

The Map of Love, Adaf Soueif****
Set in Egypt, in modern times, but with flashbacks to the early 20th century and the ancestors of the primary characters. There's a feeling of looping through eras, languages, countries, and families.

The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe**
Worst read of the month. All the characters are despicable. Wolfe seems to be trying to make a point about how broken our system is, but seeing how he places equal blame on everyone, the responsibility of any one person or group is negligible.

***all links to Indiebound are affiliate links***


Kinna said...

Nervous Conditions is another favorite of African Literature. I really want to read Map of Love too.

MJ said...

@Kinna Nervous Conditions is so good! There were a lot of things I really liked about Map of Love, like all the discussion about language, but there were a few things about the story that made me not lovelove it. I still recommend it, though.