Wow! I can’t believe it, but looking over my journal, it looks like I read six books in March. Maybe this is the one good side effect of the chronic insomnia I’ve been having — I finish more books. Granted, one was a short story in book form, but it still counts.
Overall, I think it was a good month for reading, with one 5-star book, three 4-star books and a high 3-star book. There was also a low 3-star book and one abandoned. Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
My favorite book this month was actually a reread: The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns. If you haven’t read this author yet, please give him a try. He’s not very well known, but he’s a fantastic writer. He has also published mysteries and mainstream fiction, if thrillers aren’t your thing.
In the 4-star category were Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize winner, The Shipping News, and the writing classic, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I also gave 4 stars to Jonathan Lethem‘s short story, “This Shape We’re In,” which is as weird as anything by Lethem, but has a very clever twist to it. It’s published in a nice edition as a one-off by McSweeney’s.
I read my first Philip K. Dick novel this month: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, which I gave a high 3 stars. I found it a bit tedious at first, and not entirely believable, but I think the novel redeemed itself toward the end, when Dick made us question the nature of reality and God. I would probably read another novel by him, although his writing style does take some getting used to.
I was not as happy with March, the Pulitzer Prize winner by Geraldine Brooks, about what happened to Mr. March, the father from Little Women, during the American Civil War. I found the writing style to be a little too precious, and Brooks’s account of the Civil War shaded to melodramatic.
I also abandoned a science-fiction classic, Timescape by Gregory Benford, not because I wasn’t interested in the story or the writing, but because the characters so thoroughly put me off. Reading about the novel, I see that one reason why it’s so lauded is for its characterization, proving once again that I am generally out of step with popular opinion. You should keep that in mind when reading my reviews!
Currently, I’m in the middle of Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Angle of Repose. Although I’m enjoying this very long book, I think I’m going to take a break from the Pulitzer winners after this. I feel a strong urge to immerse myself in genre fiction, and I’ve been perusing lists of recommended science fiction, fantasy and horror to determine what I should read next.
Roundup: 6 books, 1 abandoned. Click the titles below for my full reviews or reading notes. My rating scale is explained here.