books, Entertainment

Monthly Book Review: March 2019

Normally, I try to read 5-6 books in a month, which I’ve successfully accomplished a few times in a row. As my reading list is more than a mile long, the more I get through the better, although I do like to take the time to really enjoy what I’m reading, instead of just pounding through book after book without ever looking back.

This month’s reading was interesting in that I dragged myself through quite a few (very) boring books with all the hope of being eventually entertained. This was not the case. In fact, the books which I thought would be interesting ended up extremely boring, and the ones which I thought would be extremely boring ended up being some of my favorites of all time. So here’s what I read this month.

1. Still Me by Jojo Moyes

The third and final installment of the Me Before You series by Jojo Moyes, Still Me definitely had its moments. I’m a sucker for this series, because I love the Louisa, the main character, whose charming awkwardness is one of the most relatable (except maybe the charming bit) things I’ve ever read. However, that was the only thing which kept me reading.

To be honest, this was one of those series which shouldn’t have been a series. The first book was excellent on its own – but there’s a reason the other two weren’t made into movies, and it’s because they fall slightly out of the plot arc. The second and third books would have worked really well as a duology, if the characters had been different.

Still, I liked the book. It wasn’t the literary genius one would read in Dickens or Hemingway (ah, my precious Hemingway) but it was pleasant and enjoyable, and if you want to kill a few afternoons on something that won’t make your head spin with boredom, maybe pick up this series.

2. Film Directing: Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz

Here’s an oddball. If you live in my world (which you don’t, obviously) then this one makes perfect sense – but for the rest of you, I’ll explain a little.

I’m a film-director-in-training and so any little bit of movie stuff is really great. This book is one of those books I will probably read until I have the whole thing memorized, because for anyone wanting to be in film, it’s really the most wonderful resource in the world. It’s super informative, there are plenty of diagrams and detailed explanations, and, of course, it’s about movies, so what’s not to love?

3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ah, yes, A Man Called Ove! Rarely in my life have I been charmed as I have been by this book. (For more details, read my review here) The short of it is that this was one of those books I expected to hate and ended up loving. In fact, I really want to read it again, but I’m going to distance myself and try to read some of the others on my list before heading back and re-reading a few.

My thoughts about this book are expanded in another post, but there are some important ones I want to mention if you don’t feel like going back and reading it (although you should, because it’s faintly amusing). First of all, it’s written VERY well. The story flows and the plot is clear. The characters each have their distinct voices.

The second is that there is something really magical about the way Fredrik Backman treats the overall themes of the book – which are sad and inevitable, although I’m not going to tell you what they are – which makes the reader realize that, hey, ‘I’ve actually maybe thought some of these things myself’ without being intrusive and preachy. It’s just the best. Go read it.

4. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

…hmmm.

Not really sure what to say about this one.

Either it went over my head or it really was that boring. Every now and again, I come across a book where I really can’t tell what the climax of the story is. (I had the same reaction to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre, although I think I need to read that book again). In the case of Warlight, I got to the end of it without knowing really what the whole book had been about. Spies, I think, and secret societies, and something about a girl the main character sleeps around with for a while before moving away from London. Someone read the book and tell me what happened.

I think there are some really beautiful characterizations in this book, and the writing is absolutely gorgeous. But, for the most part, it appears to be mainly exposition, which was a little odd, in my opinion.

I don’t want to completely write it off, however, because, as with everything, there is a chance it went over my head. Also, I don’t like saying that a book is “bad” simply because I didn’t like it. I just didn’t like it. But I’m being serious: someone please go read the book and tell me what it was about.

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This was another one that was lost on me (for more revelations about this book, check out my review here) but I didn’t hate it. I simply didn’t get it…right at first.

You’ll have to read my review to see my full thoughts about this book, but for posterity’s sake I will say that it is still leaving an impression on my mind and it’s been a few weeks since I finished it. If that’s not a powerful book then I don’t know what is.

6. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Nonfiction! NONFICTION! Believe it or not, I love nonfiction. I am an eager student – always curious, I will read almost anything if it can help me get smarter, wiser, happier, healthier, or maybe a little richer (tee-hee, but who here hasn’t thought the same thing?). I had to give nonfiction a rest for a while, because I handed my sister a manuscript I’d written (fiction, mind you) and she handed it right back to me and said, “Rachel, this reads like a history textbook. Start over.”

Yeah…awkward.

The Talent Code isn’t history, though – as the title might suggest, it’s about talent. Specifically, it’s about the myths surrounding talent. Are people born naturally inclined to do something? Can talent be taught? These, among many others, are questions this book seeks to answer. And you know what? I think this is one of the most enlightening books I’ve read this year.

As a writer, it can be easy to feel that my work will never reach an acceptable level (what even is that, come on) because maybe, just maybe, I’m not talented enough. I feel sometimes as though it doesn’t matter how hard I work – I simply won’t be able to keep up with the competition, because they’ve got something I don’t. This book seeks to disprove that.

I recommend this book to literally everyone, but especially to people who are passionate about something but feel as though their skills are inferior.

And that’s a wrap!

…as we like to say in the film industry.

Read any of these books? What did you think? What should I read next? I can’t wait to hear from you!

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