Better late than never, here comes my regular roundup of what I read in the past month. It was another good reading month, as I finished five books, although two were rereads. The rereads were definitely my favorites for the month, though.
The first reread was of Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, which Amazon offered as a daily deal for the Kindle last month, so I snatched it up. I was wondering if this horror classic held up so many years later; well, it does. I devoured it in about two days, and it’s still just as chilling and creepy as ever, even if you do know the outcome. That’s because it’s written from Rosemary’s point of view, who only gradually puts the pieces together of the horror that is happening to her, enabling the reader to share her increasing sense of paranoia, fear and helplessness.
I also reread Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, which I probably last read in middle school. This classic about incredibly inappropriate brain experimentation on humans also holds up, although maybe not quite as well. It is written as diary entries, which go from barely literate to incredibly expressive as the developmentally disabled Charlie is made into a super-genius by an experimental brain operation. The illiterate diary entries seem a bit cutesy sometimes — would a retarded person really write prey when he means pray? – but the novel as a whole remains a moving reflection on the loss of innocence, as well as the loss of the happiness that accompanies it.
New books. One was Jo Walton’s Among Others. As a geeky reader and fan of science fiction, I appreciated reading about another geeky reader/sci-fi fan, even if reading about reading is not always particularly exciting. I also read The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, a highly entertaining and thought-provoking exploration of infinite Earths. Geekiness galore!
The disappointment of the month was Fledgling by Octavia Butler. Butler is one of my favorite writers, and this was her last novel, and the last of her novels I had left to read. It is a vampire story, but with a twist; it portrays vampires as a different species of sentient beings living in symbiosis with humans, rather than as monsters. Unfortunately, the characters were never really developed, the writing was awkward, and the plot was lackluster, so I reluctantly have to give this book a low rating.
My son is getting of an age where he can listen to longer books, which means revisiting childhood favorites. This month we listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, abridged as an audio recording read by Dahl himself. I stil love Dahl, although my son was not as impressed; perhaps when he’s older and can read the full versions, he’ll appreciate these classics more. I also read him Dragon, Dragon and Other Tales by John Gardner, which I found for the Kindle (the illustrated hardcover is sadly out of print and hard to find). One of the best parts of parenting is rediscovering these great children’s books.
Right now, I’m slogging my way through the fourth installment of A Game of Thrones, the first dud I’ve encountered in this series. Happy reading, everybody!
Roundup: 5 novels and 1 book of fairy tales read; 1 audiobook listend to. 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.