Operation Superhuman Reader: May 2011

May was a big reading month for me! I just get giddy when I think about all the books there are to read.

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hadn't read this book since high school, and I felt it was time for a re-read. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite coming-of-age stories ever. It's hard to write this review, because I feel like I'm still digesting it (even though I've read two times before). I want to talk about Atticus, Aunt Alexandra, Mrs. DuBose, the Ewells, Tom Robinson, Scout, Jem, and Boo Radley. Anything I write here, though, would likely be disconnected and loaded with disorganized emotion. So you'll just have to read it yourself, if you've managed to get through the public school system without studying it already. And even if you did read this in school, read it again. Just do it.

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a good Southern novel. This has been on my to-read list for almost two years, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up. I loved the history aspect, and I loved how real the characters became to me. I loved how attached I became to even the peripheral characters. I loved the emotions I felt while reading, and I loved the ultimate message that even though we may think we're too different from others, we share so many more things in our human experience than we realize. In so many different ways we all experience love, disappointment, pain, triumph, fulfillment, anger, and it's in that way that we're unique as individuals and united as people. If you're looking for a down-to-earth, compelling Southern novel, you've found it.

Unbearable LightnessUnbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this book as fast as I did not because it was so compelling but rather because I wanted it to be over. De Rossi's detailed account of her years battling an eating disorder introduced me to a dark world. We all have moments when we feel bad about how we look, and I found that I related to some of de Rossi's sentiments, a connection that scared me because of how destructive those mentalities proved in Portia's own life. I felt weighed down reading about the self-loathing and destruction and simultaneously grateful that I have never experienced such intense self-hatred. Her self-acceptance in the end is undoubtedly redemptive, and I liked her approach to healthy and mindful eating. Given, however, the depth of pain and darkness recounted in this book, I wish that her recovery had been more thoroughly explored.

What's Up Down There?: Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best FriendWhat's Up Down There?: Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend by Lissa Rankin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stumbled on this book a while ago and was intrigued. I thought Yeah, I'd love to have some questions answered! The author takes a candid, frank, entertaining, and comfortable approach to all things potentially uncomfortable. I came away from this book not only feeling normal, I came away feeling better about my body, convinced that it's beautiful just the way it is.

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Firstly, circuses kind of freak me out. I wanted to like the characters more than I did, and I wanted to care more about what happened to them. I was interested enough in them to finish, but I didn't really care about them. I enjoyed the twists at the end, and Jacob's elderly self was endearing in a crotchety way. The writing quality didn't stand out to me and was sometimes unnecessarily sexual. Okay writing, okay plot. I wish I liked it either more or less so I'd have a decided opinion. But I don't.

TallgrassTallgrass by Sandra Dallas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tallgrass was published four years ago, and I'm surprised that I didn't stumble on it before now; Sandra Dallas is always a good read. I enjoyed the time period of this story and have always found our nation's history with Japanese internment camps fascinating and very sad. I loved the protagonists, who all dealt with issues like rape, murder, and bigotry with dignity and grit. Even amidst intense hate and abuse, the characters in this book can love and move forward. Tallgrass emphasized that even if being a good person isn't easy, it makes you strong, and even though life gets hard, things will work out. I love that.

I Still Dream About YouI Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a light, easy read that didn't change my life. And sometimes, it's nice to read a book that doesn't change your life. The characters were likeable and the plot simple. I found some aspects unbelievable, but I could let those reservations go in lieu of everything working out exactly as it should. It's nice to read a book that ends up in a perfect happily-ever-after way. Sometimes, that's just the kind of book you need.

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Marla said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I'm looking for some good summer reads. Re: Water for Elephants... circuses really freak me out too. I don't get it at all!

Jill said...

Wow, you read a lot during May! Do you do the bulk of your reading on the bus, at lunch, at home or what? I'm curious.

We read Water for Elephants years ago for book club and were very put off by the unnecessary sexual stuff (I found it scarring). I was so bugged by the book that I listed it on Amazon as soon as I got home that night and had it sold by morning!

paws said...

I just requested some of these! Sure glad I skipped Water For Elephants. Scarring sexual stuff is not up my alley.

While I'm here I have an editing question. I see this a lot:

"I just designed a pattern called, Dovetail."

Isn't that a misuse of a comma? Thought you'd know, and I'm curious.

michelle said...

That really is a lot of reading in one month! I'm impressed. And more than a little jealous.

I really didn't like Water for Elephants and wondered what all the hype was about.

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