March 2018 Reading

Here are some five-word book reviews for my March reading wrap-up.

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Taking as Fast as I Can: Fun, witty, not earth shattering

Under the Volcano: Dense, symbolic, indulgent, and boring

Mudbound: Had potential but white washed

A Bloodsmoor Romance: Lyrical family drama with twist

Girls Think of Everything: Important recognition of amazing women

Power: Surviving and Thriving after Narcissistic Abuse: No contact is necessary, good

My First New York: A waste of good paper

The Bookshop: Brave woman doesn’t beat odds

The House of Unexpected Sisters: Ramotswe is no longer alone

Her Fearful Symmetry: Resurrected ghosts make plot weird

Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way: Corny, simplistic with Eleanor tidbits

Body Talk: Complicated rhetoric surrounds women’s bodies

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14 thoughts on “March 2018 Reading

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  1. Hi Emily – I love the 5-word-review concept! I, too, read Mudbound and liked it alot. In what way did you find it “white-washed”? (can you say why in 5 words?) I’ve also read The House of Unexpected Sisters – I just love that Alexander McCall Smith never seems to run out of fresh material to keep me reading this series!

    1. I love Alexander McCall Smith! I hope he writes forever and ever.

      As to Mudbound, it just seemed like it mostly took place from white people’s perspectives, and although the narrative did go back and forth to the black family, the overall narrative felt a lot like The Help. I loved reading The Help, but after reading some reviews and critiques of it from the perspective of people of color, I realized that the story was telling something for me in a romanticized way as a white person. That is how Mudbound felt, with perhaps a little more grit than The Help. I am hoping the movie does a better job of portraying both families and the inherent privilege of the white family as a critique. I hope what I am trying to say makes sense. I did really enjoy the read! It is my favorite from this group.

    1. So true! I am rereading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall right now for a book group, and I can’t remember anything about it from the first time around 6 years ago, other than I liked it. I’m glad I keep track too!

  2. This term I have read with my students “The Bookshop” by P. Fitzgerald, a brilliant and powerful book, which once again proved that she is a writer with more than “a touch of genius” (Byatt). It is in this book that Florence Green hopes that human beings “are not divided in to exterminators and exterminatees, with the former, at any given moment, predominating.” She, herself, becomes helpless in the face of people’s cruelty and “the tragedy of misunderstanding” among people. Valentine Cunningham is right, calling the book “a little gem, a vintage narrative.” This courageous woman’s love for books is inspiring. Her quoting Milton’s “A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life” is unfortunately wasted on the residents of Hardborough, a very meaningful imaginary name for the setting in the novel. The end of the book is very poignant “with her head bowed in shame, because the town in which she had lived for nearly ten years had not wanted a bookshop.” It is hard to express “the aching pleasure” (from Keat’s Ode on Melancholy) one gets from reading The Bookshop.”And one’s heart is stopped at the ironic gap between the good old words and the awful present reality, sobered yet once more at this potently slim novel’s indictment of small-time Little Englandism successfully doing it philistine worst.” (Valentine Cunningham) And finally I’d like to quote one of my student’s promise in her reflective essay after having read the novel; “I promise to read all the books written on earth, because with the words I will be able to fly and hunt the demons and travel through fantasy worlds until the Death of Angel comes after me…” Penelope would be happy to hear this. In one of her interviews she calls the book to be “the loveliest thing on earth.”

    1. Thank you for sharing! I wholeheartedly agree. I read a lot of Fitzgerald’s short stories during my master’s program, and I even wrote a paper about one of them. She is a brilliant writer!

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