Monday, January 10, 2011

Worth a read: books by William Boyd, Junot Diaz & Sue Monk Kidd

I've been wanting to make mention of several books since I started this little blog, but life continues to get in the way of more consistent blogging with regular features. I'm ok with that for now and will just continue with my non-format approach and throw in whatever piques my interest.

Over the past 2 years I have been reading far less than what was formerly my norm. Seldom was I able to sleep without first reading - sometimes 20 minutes, other times a couple of hours. But, when I hit the sack at 3am these days knowing the kids will be up at 7 I tend to just want to collapse into the darkness. I've been experiencing more sleeplessness in recent weeks - insomnia perhaps - and am getting back to regular reading in hopes of better winding down for sleep. A few recent reads that have taken me away to places I might never have known (the mark of a worthwhile read)...

image via KIKA.LA

Any Human Heart, by William Boyd.
I stretched this read out over a few months. Boyd's story of the life of Logan Monstuart, a literary critic and novelist, is written as series of diaries. As a young man, Monstaurt is a scholarly, arrogant and highly flawed character who caused me much irritation. After following his life - missteps, successes, losses and encounters with figures of the time such as Hemmingway and Virginia Wolfe - I felt compassion for the mellowed, gentler Monstuart. It was a long journey; one that I did not want it to end.

I read this one quickly. What a unique voice Mr. Diaz offers with a constant mix of colloquialisms, Dominican-American street slang, and Spanish terms and phrases often absent a context to sufficiently understand the meaning without the use of a translation dictionary. I am no fan of extensive footnoting as used by Diaz in this book. At the same time, I appreciated the Dominican history interspersed throughout - footnote elaboration and all. Profanity-laden, sometimes hilarious and ultimately tragic, the life story of the de Leon Family is a compelling read.

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.
I'm still reading this one. How much we can learn from life in (and out of) the hive! Rich characters, captivating and moving story from page one. I've heard the book is now a movie. I have to say, with the tiniest bit of disappointment, that it feels written for the movies. No interest in seeing the movie, but I am eager to finish the book.

More book mentions to come.

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