Books I Read During Baseball Season: Part I

One of the purposes of this blog is write about what I’m reading. I haven’t done a very good job of it over the summer, because I’ve been blogging about baseball over here at DRaysBay as, and about some more important issues here on the blog. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading! So in this post and the next one, I’ll try to set things right with some mini-reviews and recommendations. The grading scale is below.

4: Great book. Re-Readable. Seriously, why haven’t you read this book yet so we can talk about it?
3: Good book. Not necessarily re-readable, but well worth the time and effort.
2: Fair book. You’ll never get the time back you spent reading this book. But then again, there are worst ways to waste a summer day than reading.
1: Ugh. Don’t. Just…don’t. I read this book so you won’t have to. Don’t make my sacrifice be in vain.

Okay, ready? Let’s get started.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel:

Book Score: 4

This sci fi dystopia piece won several awards and made the long list for the Baileys Prize. Years after a plague has wiped out much of the population, the story follows the Traveling Symphony, a Shakespearean troupe, as they move across the wasteland. Mandel is poignant without being sappy as she both mourns and mocks what we hold dear.

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Bookscore: 3

Octavia Butler was a legend among science fiction writers. So I’m a little ashamed to admit that this is the first book of hers I’ve read. The story follow 18 year-old Lauren Olamina as she copes with her hyperempathy syndrome — a condition that causes her to feel the physical pain of those around her — amid the wreckage of a world and a life gone to hell. From the ashes grows hope, and a new faith: Earthseed. Book 1 of a series.

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Book Score: 2

Richard Haddon is an artist and an idiot who cheats on his wife and almost loses everything. There’s a lot to like in this funny first novel, even if it is predictable. Keep an eye out for future offerings from Maum.

 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Book Score: 4

Harold Fry is a retired sales rep and passive observer to life around him when he gets a letter from an old friend and decides to do something: he walks. For 600 miles. Because he believes somehow the walking will save his friend. Along the way, he ponders his failings as husband and father. Lessons are learned. Some lives are changed. Some are not. I know, it sounds cliche, but it works. I picked this up on a whim because the title caught my attention and it was on sale. I had never heard of Rachel Joyce before. I’m glad I found it. This book is funny and inspiring and has all the feels.

Crow Hollow by Michael Wallace

Book Score: 2

A Puritan widow and an English spy fall in love while intrigue is unearthed in 1670s New England. Much of the action feels forced and contrived, like maybe Wallace has written this story before and just transplanted it to different settings. But it did lead to several fun Wikipedia excursions.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Book Score: 4

A fall at the gym erases ten years of Alice’s life — including the fact that she now hates her husband and they are divorcing. A great study of what makes up a person — the history, the memories, the choices — and a great question: what if the person we are isn’t the person we wish to be? Moriarty is often unfairly pigeonholed into the chicklit subgenre, and I’m not sure why (other than the fact that the leads in her novels are all women). She just writes good stories, and is one of my favorite writers on the scene right now.

More to come in Part II…


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