Thursday, July 31, 2014

books

I've been trying to read more this year and so far it's going really well.  I seem to be stuck in two themes and all the books I've read recently are either it's the end of the world and society is crumbling stories, or I can't believe you/I did that stories that explore what's next, human nature, or keep a secret from the reader.  I found all of these books to be very clean (save for the very occasional language), and highly recommend them all!! 
Here's what I've finished recently:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - I picked up this book after seeing it on Instagram.  It was a quick read with such a twist at the end.  The kind of twist that makes you rethink the entire story, it was...yeah, I never saw it coming! The story is about a family that spends their summers on their private island and more specifically about one of the children/teenage girls.  Any more details and I'd be afraid to give something away!

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters - This is the first of The Last Policeman series and it has been on my radar for a while and one day I found it at Costco, yay!  The story is about the end of the world, told by a policeman who has been recently promoted to detective just as an asteroid is on it's way to earth.  The book deals with a crumbling world with 6 months until impact.  People have "gone bucket" and taken their own lives, nothing is logical anymore, and while there is still something of a police force left, a death appears that seems suspicious.  And he investigates it while others see no point. Why bother? I really enjoyed how that question was explored in many ways and quick smart writing.  I loved this story. It was refreshing, interesting, real, and fascinating!

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters - The second book in the trilogy, now there are 3 months until impact and our detective friend is moving on from several things that happened in the first book.  Society is even worse, more dangerous, and there are no explanations for anything.  The police and any defense or protection is up to each person.  This time our detective is investigating a mysterious disappearance and trying to keep an eye on his sister who has gotten herself deep into a conspiracy theory she fully believes in.  The places he goes, things he finds out, and people he meets along the way were fascinating! I loved this one too,  great sequel.  

World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters - The last book in the trilogy and there are now only two weeks left until impact.  Our detective is trying to find his sister, his only remaining family, before impact and the unknown after that.  He follows her deeper into the conspiracy theory she was involved in, using a color system for towns based on their level of danger, searching for her and anything useful.  I will tell you that he finds her, but the things he finds along the way, and afterwards are what make this book special.  An Amish patriarch who has kept the asteroid a secret from his family, a couple with an RV and a flock of chickens, and everyone else.  I loved it.  And I'll tell you one more thing.  I'm sure we all assume that the point of a story like this would be to stop the asteroid, but it isn't!  I loved that the asteroid was unavoidable and dealt with the people.  The story ends with the glow of the asteroid hurtling towards earth.  It was wonderful, the whole thing. SO GOOD! The whole trilogy was amazing.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak - This was a surprise for me and to be honest I only read a few of them because it was due back at the library before I finished...  I was expecting stories that were predictable, or crude, but for the most part this collection of short stories was far better than I anticipated.  He definitely understands the power and potential of a good story and knows how to create one, even with the most seemingly unimportant, overlooked, and random things.  My favorite was a dating sketch between a woman and a warlord. 

Logo Design Love by David Airey - I read this one almost immediately after taking Melanie Burk's Atly class on Identity and logo design (which you can find by following that link).  The class was amazing, and this book was a great second perspective into a world and career that is really new and really interesting to me.  The information in this book is gold and I already know it will be a valuable resource in any design work I do.  It explains things clearly and concisely, which was important to me.  David Airey is an expert and writes in such a generous and friendly way.  If you're interested in graphic design, you should have this book (I have linked to the edition that I read, but I see that there is another edition that just recently came out with a black cover.  Just something to be aware of).

The Dinner by Herman Koch - (Also a library score) This was another exciting one along the same vein as We Were Liars in that it contains a secret.  The story is set in Amsterdam and is told over the course of one dinner between two couples.  They are having some uncomfortable issues with their children and I'll leave it at that.  Part of the excitement of this story is in wondering what the kids did!  I loved the way this story was told.  The narrator, one of the dads, tells it the way I imagine I would tell something like this.  There are memories, things hidden intentionally that he just doesn't want to share, and feelings remembered.  It is wonderfully interesting to see how they handle this, and how, as the dinner progresses and more is unfolded, how one mistake is dealt with and acknowledged.  It's like they are totally different people by the end of the dinner, unrecognizable from when they started.  As a parent now myself, I thought it was interesting to see how my own feelings developed as I read this story.  I love it when an author is good enough to make me examine my own feelings. 

What are you reading this summer?

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