• Sci-Fi, Family and Baseball

    Date: 2013.02.01 | Category: Books | Tags:

    I think it’s time to talk books again. I’ve read a bunch since I last posted, so I’ll share a few of them here.

    The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

    This movie, staring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, has gotten a lot of acclaim. So when Noel recommended it, I picked it up and I am so glad I did. While the premise seems a little strange – a man who has been in a mental institution and suffering from memory loss moves back in with his parents and meets another mentally unstable woman – the story is quite a gem. From the angry, football obsessed father to the Asian Invasion bus they tailgate with, to the slow understanding of what Pat actually faced, the story unwinds at a great tempo and you come to appreciate the characters and their actions despite the consequences. I really enjoyed this book.

    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

    I really wanted to love this book. I know it won prizes and everyone says great things, but I had trouble getting over the pretentiousness of it. Ultimately it is a book about memory and how our perceptions of memories may not actually match up with the truth about the past. I kind of wanted to scream, “Yes, I get it! Now get on with the story.” I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. This book did make me think though, and the ending surprised me.

    The Diviners by Libba Bray

    First you should know this book is the beginning of a series. I didn’t know that and was angry at anticlimactic ending of the book. It’s essentially a supernatural murder mystery about a serial killer performing ritual style murders that takes place in New York City during the 1920’s. The characters become more interesting as the story unfolds, but many of them are introduced and don’t really play a role in the main plot at all, which was frustrating. The book was on the long side and the ending was frustrating, but overall the plot was interesting. 3 out of 5 stars.

    Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

    I have shameless love for this book, but then it’s fantasy, ties into Arthurian legend, has a magic school and a strong female lead. There are several things in this book that remind me of Harry Potter, but not in a way that makes me angry. A girl is discovered for her ability to channel light, something no one else can do. She’s sent away to be trained at a magic school in the hopes she will ultimately defeat the literal growing darkness that divides the land. Also the first in a series, you’ve been warned!

    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

    One of the most famous sci-fi books of all time, I’ve had it on my to-read list. And when Among Others mentioned it, I decided to go ahead and pick it up. As I read the book, I kept seeing how so many other stories I’ve read and movies I’ve seen were influenced by it. A young boy, Ender, is selected in an effort to lead a space war against an alien race known as the Buggers. His training is pushed to the limits in a series of games aboard a training school in space. While there is some crazy violence, especially by a young child, the book was still great and has a surprising ending. A must read for it’s influence in current culture and because the movie comes out this November.

    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

    A book about baseball at a liberal arts college and how five people are tied to each other and the sport. This book is really beautifully written and I loved the small liberal arts college/Melville background that reminded me so much of the college I went to (just sub in Jack London for Melville). There’s a baseball prodigy, a college president and his daughter who is running from her failed marriage, Owen, the well spoken beautiful gay student and Mike Schwartz, the captain of the baseball team who makes it is goal to make Henry the best possible player.

    For a while I thought I didn’t like the book, but I realized that I was just frustrated for the characters and felt so deeply for them – which I think is a great accomplishment. Some of the scenes though were really tough for me to get through, and I didn’t always understand the actions of some of the characters. But overall, I think it was a great coming of age story with complex, well thought out and developed characters. I do think the book is a little too long. I feel bad saying that because the writing was so great, but I was ready for it to end about eight chapters before it actually did. A little editing would have made this a five star read for me.

    Across the Universe by Beth Revis

    I’ve started digging my way into sci-fi, and this book fits nicely in the genre. The book starts off with a family being cryogenically frozen for a 300 year journey to another planet. When the girl is woken up before the other frozens, she becomes enmeshed in the creepy society that lives and works aboard the ship and Elder, a teenager who is next in line to lead. A great mystery with a sci-fi twist.  The first of a trilogy, but good news, all three books are published! I’m half way through the second book in the series now, A Million Suns, and it’s equally as good, if not better than the first.