Books of 2013: January & February

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

To be honest, I don't remember when I technically started and finished this book, but I couldn't not include it in this list because, you guys, it's so good. I actually recommended this book to Meg before I even read it. I had seen it at the library and added it to my mental to-read list (I always forget to update Goodreads). Meg went right out and bought the book, read it, then turned right around and recommended it to me. I borrowed her copy and after a month or so of dilly-dallying (I am prone to basking in the convenience of having a book that doesn't have a library due date [i.e., procrastinating]). When I finally picked it up, I had started and stopped several books that hadn't caught my attention. This was the perfect book to pick up at a moment like that. Flynn writes well; her characters are engaging and complex. Just when you think you have it all figured out, someone surprises you. Just when you think you know how you feel about a character, they go and get all human on you and you don't know anymore.

I loved this book so much, not only for its content and that rare I-can't-stop-reading feeling it gave me, but for its knocking me down a notch in my book snob ladder. This book was marketed to (and praised by) the masses, and I was happy to find myself plopped right down in the middle of them, wanting more. I was sad to see this book end, but I've added Sharp Objects to my mental to-read list. Now I just have to wait for Meg to buy/read/lend it to me.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenedes

I picked this up one day after work at the tiny library branch that's right across the street from us. We used to live about a seven minute walk from the main Cambridge Public Library, which is so beautiful and makes me never want to leave every time I go. So moving down Cambridge Street away from that place was a bit sad. I knew there was a small library super close to our new apartment, but I convinced myself that it was too small and would serve only as a place to get book requests delivered. Then one night, Mike wasn't coming home until later, and the bus let me off right in front of the library, and I thought I'd walk through. I was in another reading rut, and I wanted to see what they had. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection. The new books table was just as well-stocked and intriguing as the one at the main branch. I remembered seeing this book around, and thought I'd see if they had. They did! I read the first couple pages in a comfy chair to make sure I was into it, and that was all it took. I read this book in less than a week, finishing off the last third on my flight to Chicago to see Nabila. I've been recommending this one non-stop as well. Now I want to read his other books, but I'm afraid I'll be disappointed. 

Eugenedes kind of writes Madeleine, the main character, like a woman he used to love, memories colored with resentment. That is not to say she is not complex or sympathetic, but there is a bit of that why-are-all-the-male-characters-in-love-with-her reaction. Maybe that's just me. Either way, this book is one of my favorites.


Self-Help by Lorrie Moore

I read this one on the cruise, sitting by the pool and sipping a mango pina colada. There probably wasn't much that would make me not like this collection of short stories, but I really enjoyed it. Moore has definitely had some unsatisfying relationships with artistic types. That, or she has a great and specific imagination about what it would be like to date a playwright. Each of the stories is written as a how-to, each of the topics general and interesting, the stories themselves achingly specific and heartbreaking. My favorite was "How to Be An Other Woman." I mean, what a great title! 

I've started the third month of the year with a new book, and I hope to have three more under my belt pretty soon. What have you been reading lately?


Nicole Silva said...

Mel. I came across your blog via Instagram and I love it/you. Ready for me to comment on everything soon?
What a coincidence (TAL reference)! I'm reading Gone Girl right now and I'm captivated. I placed a hold on the digital copy for my Kindle months ago and it was suddenly available last Sunday and I'm nearing the end right now. It's been quite a week for me. Thrillers are refreshing and exciting!

Melanie Yarbrough said...

Ha! You're so sneaky :) So glad to hear another person's reading Gone Girl. I just scored her other book, Sharp Objects at the Savers (in West Springfield!) this past weekend.