Saturday, June 20, 2009

Books 2009 -- #19-22

The Bell Jar The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book about a woman's descent into madness and subsequent "recovery" hits painfully close to home. While I wouldn't say I've ever gone mad, I relate all too well to the depression and feelings of hopelessness. It was difficult to read about her confinement in the asylum and her shock treatments. All I can say is that I am so grateful that I live now, when much more is known about depression and its treatment.

Despite the serious subject matter, I was surprised to find that there is a lot of humor in the Bell Jar, and it was actually a pretty enjoyable read.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book, while entertaining, read more like a young adult novel to me -- it didn't have the depth I was hoping for. I found the writing to be almost condescending in the first portion of the book, but in the latter half there were at least a few things I hadn't already figured out (not ideal for a mystery). Although I liked the young protagonist Flavia, and her predilection for poison (and chemistry in general) was somewhat unexpected, I don't think she is the kind of character like Scout or Oskar that will inhabit a permanent place in my memory.

In this case, the cover was my favorite part of the book.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started out listening to the audiobook version and I was immediately drawn in to the fascinating premise: a Native American chief asking the U.S. President to supply his tribe with 1000 white women that they could breed with and thereby assimilate into the dominant white culture.

The first two discs or so were great -- I liked the reader, and I was captivated by the women and the reasons they would choose to join this most unusual venture. But then things started going downhill for me: at times I felt it strayed into romance novel territory, neglecting the aspects of the story I found most compelling.

I returned the audiobook to the library and read the last half or so of the book. It was fine, I finished it, but ultimately I found myself comparing it to Ride the Wind (much to the detriment of 1000 White Women). Ride the Wind is apparently only available in an ugly trade paperback format, but if you want to read a truly good book about a white woman living with a Native American tribe, that's the one I'd recommend.

44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #1) 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Originally written as a daily serial for a newspaper, this book is composed of extremely short chapters. (That can be refreshing or annoying, depending on my state of mind at any given time.) Seinfeld comes to mind, as it's sort of a book about nothing -- not that I mind that. This is a character-driven book, with quite a few interesting characters. All told, it was a fun, quick read. Not a lot of depth, but sometimes you just want a fun, quick read, you know?

View all my reviews.


Shauna said...

I love your book reviews and book lists. Thank you for the reminder to utilize Good Reads. I dont use that site enough!

Gail - Artist Mom said...

I enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie a little more than you did, I think. However, my expectations going in were not very high and I was in the mood for something fun most of all. I agree that it reads more like juvenile fiction and I gave it to my 13 year old daughter to read. She has an exceptional vocabulary for her age. I think for this book to truly be juvenile fiction some of the vocabulary might have to be changed.

Thanks for your reviews.

crystal said...

I've never read The Bell Jar--I just canNOT bring myself to do it. As my BFF said in high school, when it was assigned reading in our class, "I LIVE it, why READ it?!"

hee hee.


I am excusing myself.

crystal said...

(that is my new favorite quote, by the way. Thank you, Ava!)

Jill said...

I read The Bell Jar last year and was surprised by how different it was from what I thought it would be. It was far more entertaining and timeless than I would have guessed.

I hate it when the cover is my favorite part of a book, even though I love a pretty cover.

Amie said...

Seriously... when do you get all of this reading in? It's an impressive list you have going this year.

rebekah said...

i just started the scotland street series! i struggled with the first book because i kept waiting for the plot to take off. when i reached the end i finally had the 'seinfeld' epiphany, and was able to move on to the second book and really enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I just didn't totally get The Bell Jar. I wonder if it was the hype? It just shows how little I know about depression I guess.

The cover of that book is so pleasing.

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