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Not-So-Bad February

Between work and travel, February is a very busy month. I managed eight books in the shortest month of 2012, not too bad. For over half the month I was gone so the blog hasn’t been updated. I tried to maintain normal reading habit. Here’s the round-up:

8 books, 2752 pages, 95 pages a day

A Meaningful Life L.J. Davis
Got this book cold turkey. Never heard of L.J. Davis let alone to read him. The book is about a man who wills himself a meaningful life by restoring a collapsing house to its glory. But unknowingly to him, he’s the house himself—standing a slim chance of revival. Davis doesn’t give the cause of effect of Lowell, who is merely gliding through somnolence, making poor decisions without his knowing, and thus bringing about unexpected consequences.

The Falls Joyce Carol Oates
My first Oates and am quite impressed, although I have no idea what to read next by her. It’s the story of a man’s unselfish humanism and idealism against his his spouse’s inward-looking isolationism. While there are compelling shorter fictions embedded in this book, Oates’s handling of transitions is uneasy in this book.

One Day David Nicholls
Never say never. This book has been the biggest and most pleasant surprise for the month of February. I was at pause to read it owing to the breakneck speed with which Hollywood embraced it. It is a great read. The device of tackling the same day in subsequent years encapsulates the ideal solution to the novel’s greatest challenge of knowing what to leave out and to include. For readers the focus on just one day a year is a constant allure and tease to read on, leaving room for imagination as to what happens during the rest of the year.

Netherland Joseph O’Neill
This book uses American cricket to explore the larger theme of immigration: what compromises and sacrifices are made on the part of immigrants. Unfortunately, the book is too small-boned, despite a big ambition, lacking a central magnet that holds the disjointed, incohesive story intact. How can anyone in the right mind compare this to Gatsby, huh, New York Times?

Freedom Jonathan Franzen
I’m a fan and will always be. Whether Oprah disowns him or people slam him with negative comments, I always get his books. obviously bears the mission to demonstrate, to expose, and to mock the illusory nature of our freedom. Freedom abused and misconstrued. Through the Berglunds and their six degrees of separation, Franzen shows, with such disdainful imperviousness of a voice, people who are not only unable but unwilling to admit certain truths whose logic is self-evident. Despite the incessant cycles and tedium, this book is actually very witty.

The House Behind the Cedars Charles W. Chesnutt
Another cold turkey. It is about a young woman who fights for love and opportunity against the ranked forces of a pernicious society poised on racism, against immemorial tradition, and against family pride. However sentimental it might read, it is a beautiful novel about someone, deep in the misery that her own race subjects her, fully realizes her racial consciousness. It can read a bit outdated because it was published over a century ago.

How to Travel with a Salmon Umberto Eco
This collection is not to be missed if you are keen on light and diverting read but that which sheds light on what it means to be human in the age of technological and informational boom.

The Lost Language of Cranes David Leavitt
Leavitt’s debut is a perceptive novel about sexual identity and family. It poses the question about the relationship between who one is and whom one loves. Does a love object, particularly an unconventional one, confer identity upon the person who loves it (or him, or her?) Sensitively nuanced novel about how father and son deal with their sexuality, respectively.

On the strength of emotional depth and beautiful writing, my picks for the month are The Lost Language of Cranes and One Day.

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8 Responses

  1. Posted my wrap-up 2 hours from yours and 8 books is great! I only managed 5 but bought a lot of books during Feb. See my post. I think you had a great month. I look forward to read Freedom too.

    • As I’m replying to your comment, I’m tallying my March reads, which come to 8. I haven’t been around much this month with the travel to Hong Kong and a business trip to Texas. I think I also have a great March. Freedom is actually a quick read. :)

  2. Impressive. And your average page per book is impressive. You read some really voluminous books. One thing I have learnt from book bloggers and partly from you is to keep a steady reading rate and ever since I did that my reading has improved. I try to keep it at not less than 50 pages per day, though I exceeded the average in February.

    Thanks for sharing. These things do inspire.

    • Reading to me is like breathing. Haha! I have upped the average page from about 60 to 100 this year, after cutting back on my time on the internet. Whenever I have free time, i read.

  3. congratulations on your great month. I read an average of 90 pages/day in January, so I know that’s a lot! Only a pathetic 39 pages/day in February, but 52 mn/day of audiobook.
    I added this Umberto Eco book on my TBR a few days ago!

    Today, I just finished The Forgotten Garden – I had been intrigued by your review. So far my favorite book of the year! I’m going to have a real hard time to review that one, it is so special, magical, rich at so many levels. I listened to it, and I’m going to buy my own hard copy!! Now, this is very very unusual. I usually get all my books from the library and hardly ever reread books. But I want to go back and taste every line of it. So I really thank you for posting your review and giving me the desire to read it.
    see my Feb wrap-up here: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/03/01/february-wrap-up/

    • I reread about 3 books every year, depending on the mood. A friend of mine invited me to her book club next month as they will be discussing The Master and Margarita. Guess it’s time for me to re-read (again).

  4. I’d say you had a great February, especially given that it was a short month. I’ve yet to read Franzen but all of the negative comments almost make me want to read him more! I guess I am a rebel.

    • Franzen is a great writer. So witty and biting to the point. I don’t care what people say about Franzen and his books. I’m a fan!

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