Is it fair to say I read 5 books this month? One was really a long short story, and another I ended up skimming so I could return it to the library on time. Well, all reading should count, I think. Here’s the rundown of the month’s books.
My favorite book of the month was A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. We no longer subscribe to HBO (or to any cable at all), so I am not watching this along with everyone else and his dog. The book was terrific, even better than A Game of Thrones, and I am looking forward to continuing the series when it comes out on DVD. There was a lot more political intrigue, and a doozy of a battle scene — one of the best I’ve read. I also enjoyed how the characters have been scattered far and wide, each facing their own perils; it’s like reading five novels in one. I’m taking a little break from this epic series, but I expect to move on to the third book soon.
Unfortunately, the rest of my reading for the month was somewhat blah in comparison. River of Smoke, the highly anticipated sequel to Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, just did not live up to my expectations. Compared to the first book in the trilogy, it seemed lackluster, not nearly as much fun. For book club, I read the young adult dystopian novel Divergent by Veronica Roth, which I thought was a bit too reminiscent of The Hunger Games. (By the way, I also saw The Hunger Games movie, and surprisingly, I thought it was even better than the book, precisely because we don’t have to stay in Katniss’s head the whole time.)
The short story I read was The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster (which I believe is available for free online and in e-book format). I read it as part of my ongoing interest in dystopian and apocalyptic literature, and while Forster has some disturbing insights into future life that could easily be applied in today’s world, the story doesn’t have much in the way of plot or characters; it’s more of a platform for Forster to get across some of his ideas. It’s still worth reading, though, if you are interested in how authors envision the future.
Finally, I read most of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, a nonfiction account of the experiences of the American Ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, during Hitler’s rise to power. While the subject was interesting enough, I was hoping to gain some insight into why Hitler was able to take power and what ordinary Germans thought and felt during this time, and I don’t think the book delivered on that score.
I did give up on one book: Startide Rising by David Brin, simply because I wasn’t in the mood for evolved dolphins. Right now, I am back on science fiction, reading a first contact story, Eifelheim, on my Kindle and a time travel story, Time and Again, before bed.
Roundup: 5 books read, 1 abandoned. Click the titles below for my full reviews or reading notes (some links will take you off this site). My rating scale is explained here.