First — here’s hoping everyone (in the US) had a most excellent Thanksgiving yesterday and you’re all stuffed and slightly hungover. I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Remember how last month was pretty much all non-fiction? Well, things swung back the other way, big-time.
Not only did I dive back into fiction after a couple months of non-fiction, I dove back into really girly fiction (you’ll see). I read the first 3 Princess Diaries books in high school (several times) but I guess lost interest or stopped paying attention for awhile, because it was definitely a few years before I realized the series had continued. I’m not a huge fan of YA anymore (with some exceptions, and unlike a lot of adults these days, it seems — not judging, just noting a difference!), but I often wander over to that section of the library just to see if anything catches my eye. And a few weeks ago, these bright, glittery hardcovers were smack in the middle of the shelf…and I figured out which was the fourth one and thought Why not? It’ll be a quick read.
And it was. I think I finished this in two days. At first thinking “oh my God, this is so dumb. Was Mia always this naive and dumb in the books? Sheesh” but later, despite myself, falling back into that high school innocence and enjoying it. And remembering that, as much as I like the movies with Anna Hathaway and Julie Andrews, I get such a kick out of the definitely-not-Disney versions of the characters (scary, manipulative Grandmother! Cancer-surviving playboy Dad! Nutty left-wing feminist Mom! And my favorite, possible-former-terrorist/assassin Lars!). So, TL;DR – light, enjoyable fluff, and I’ll probably pick up the rest of the books when I find them in the stacks.
Oy. I have very mixed feelings about this one. The only other Emily Giffin book I’ve read is Something Borrowed and I couldn’t stand it. The thing was, I was already over halfway into the book when I realized that all the characters needed to be punched in the face and I couldn’t handle the narrator whining about how much it sucks being “the other woman.” YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT LADY. But I was already far enough into the book that I wanted to see it through.
After 3 pages of The One & Only, I had decided that Giffin was really good at writing really unlikeable characters. I rolled my eyes but kept reading, determined to give it a fair chance. And then I got into the story. Like, really liked it. Like the characterization of Shea, liked how it dealt with abuse, liked how it showed her growing (a little) and getting some ambition and self-awareness.
And then the ending sucked. I won’t spoil anything, and you could argue with me that it was left open-ended, but it was pointing really strongly in one direction that I wasn’t happy with.
Bottom line — not a bad read, but I think I’m over Giffin’s books.
Ah, one work of non-fiction I had to finish up this month. At first, I was thinking “Who exactly is this kid and why do I care about him?” Then I grew to like him and his style. I got crystal clear pictures of the characters in his life — his mother, his grandparents, and of course his uncle and the “men from the bar.” Really great work. (When I really enjoy a book, I tend to not have as much to say about it. Is that weird?)
Generally, I judge historical fiction by asking the question: “Even though I know the ending, does the book make me feel like I don’t know how it’ll turn out?” Does that make sense? Like, I read The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir a few years back and it’s about the childhood/young adult years of Elizabeth I, obviously she grows up and gets crowned Queen of England — but I was frantically turning the pages going “oh no, how will she get out of this? Mary’s totally going to kill her! Ahhh what now?” even as I was reassuring myself of course she survives, dummy. Same with The Other Boleyn Girl — I know what happens to Anne, but Philippa Gregory still made me keep reading to find out how.
However, I’m not as familiar with the Yorks and Lancasters, so I got to read this book as if it were any other novel. Mostly. I mean, I’m pretty sure I know who Henry Tudor is and how things shake out down the road. Anyway, I still really enjoyed it. I thought Edward’s and Elizabeth’s “love story” was a little ridiculous and her rapid jumps in motivation were a little hard to take (and that they really needed to use more names in medieval England. Way too many Henrys and Edwards and Richards to keep straight). But I just can’t help loving these sorts of sagas and now I have to find a copy of The Red Queen.
Biographies: 4/12 I’m counting The Tender Bar as a bio. Memoirs are tricky little buggers to categorize, for some reason.
What have you read/are you reading lately?