Reading one of David McCullough’s books has been one of my reading goals. I purchased John Adams several years ago and started it a few times but keep putting it down. I was excited when my book group selected this book so that I would have the added incentive to read it.
This book has received such great reviews and the size was a bit less intimidating that Mr. McCullough’s other books. Unfortunately I was really disappointed. I rated it a three only because I was able to make it to the end. However, it was a painful experience. The Wright Brothers as a subject matter were interesting and I did learn some new facts and I was driven to research them further. However, I found reading the book to be a chore. It was very boring and I found the writing style that intermixed narrative and quotations from letters and diaries to be very difficult to read. It did not flow smoothly and the narrative text and quotations were not integrated into the narrative non-fiction format I was expecting.
I am not sure if I will try another of his books. I tend to prefer novels over non-fiction but I do enjoy well written narrative non-fiction – I loved The Boys in the Boat!
Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book (as I have all of Richard Russo’s books). Mr. Russo does such a great job of developing his characters and reading one of his books makes you feel like you are in the room with them.
I am typically a very fast reader. I could have easily read this book in just a few long reading sessions. However, I found myself savoring this one. I only read a few pages a day.
If you are a Richard Russo fan, I suggest listening to some of his interviews. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a local library and I listened to an interview with him when this book was released. Hearing him describe his approach to writing and developing his characters makes reading his books and even great pleasure.
This book is a must read for any fans of Richard Russo’s previous works and anyone who enjoys a character driven novel!
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It is a cold dreary May 1st in Pennsylvania. A perfect day to get lost in a book. I am loving Alice Hoffman’s The Story Sisters. I am not a huge fan of magical realism but this one has me hooked! I should be finished tonight. Not sure if I want to break to make dinner!
When I started this endeavor my goals were quite lofty. I thought I could blog on many topics that I am interesting in: primarily books, food, project management and parenting.
I am finding this to be overwhelming. I have decided to limit my focus to books at least for the short term.
Lucy Barton’s lover in My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout tells her that to be an artist she must be ruthless. I have found myself going back to this statement over and over and thinking about the truth in this statement and how it translates to non-artists as well. Do you need to be ruthless to succeed?
Ruthless is defined as “having or showing no pity or compassion for others.” If ruthlessness is required for success in the arts or other life pursuits then I question the value of success. Are the artists that are today considered to have been or to be at the top of their craft ruthless. Does someone have to be without compassion to produce work that is perceived by others to be a ‘classic’ or worthwhile? Is the only way to gain fame to be ruthless?
I wonder if the better advice that Lucy’s lover could have given is that she must be selfish, fearless and able to use rejection as motivation. In Lucy’s case she [spoiler alert] did make a decision to leave her family to pursue her art – was this ruthless or selfish. Selfish is defined as “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” I do believe that Lucy felt she could not be the best writer she was meant to be within the confines of her marriage and family. She was certainly selfish in this decision but was she truly ruthless?
As I mom I can’t imagine completely choosing my personal pursuits – artistic, career, etc – over my family. I do see the need to compromise There are times when family doesn’t have to come first but there are times when it must. In order to be successful in a pursuit there are times that you must be selfish but the success that is achieved through selfish acts must be measured and evaluated against the impact that selfishness causes others. Leaving her family may have been the right choice for Lucy, but it would never be for me.
I loved this book! Elizabeth Strout did not disappoint me. I started listening yesterday morning and finished it while cooking dinner tonight. I need to order this one in traditional book format from the library and read it again. It was very enjoyable to listen to the audio – it felt like Lucy was sitting next to me and telling me her story. However, there was so much of the prose that I wanted to re-read because it was so beautifully written and thoughtful. Audio didn’t lend itself to this. Now I need to pick the next audio book before my work commute tomorrow!
Typically I have more time to read over the weekend than I do during the week but this weekend we are having company for much of the weekend so I won’t fit in as much I would like but I will just have to make the best of it!
Until recently I read just one book at a time – not any more! Now I am pretty much always in the midst of three books at once – one audio book, one kindle book and one traditional paper book. I was worried when I started this practice that I would have trouble keeping the story lines straight but I have only had a problem once when I was reading (actually listening to) Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Historic fiction is a genre I enjoy and both of these were quite good but I did find myself getting the details of the two books confused at times. However, it was not a serious enough of a problem to stop the practice of concurrent reading. But I digress – today I was talking about my weekend reading plans.
I finished listening to the last in the Spellman series by Lisa Lutz this morning. There are six books in this series and they were all very enjoyable. I recommend this series if you are looking for something light with a detective slant. I read the first four in the traditional paper format but listened to the last two and the audio was really well done! This last book goes by two different names: The Last Word and The Next Generation. It continues the tales of Isabel Spellman and her family and their PI firm. Isabel or Izzy as she is typical called is certainly an imperfect but endearing character. I am a bit sad that there will be no new books in this series but I think Ms. Lutz made the right decision to end this while before they became monotonous and I am excited to see what books she writes in the future. I enjoyed How to Start a Fire and I am looking forward to her new book that coming out in March!
I finished The Last Word just before it was time to walk my dog Scout and I needed to pick another book quickly. I heard an interview with Elizabeth Strout earlier this week on Fresh Air and I decided to try her new book My Name is Lucy Barton. I am about an hour into this four hour book and so far it is great. I am not surprised as I have enjoyed all her books. I was surprised to hear that she was in her 40s when she published her first novel. My mom gave me Amy and Isabelle when it came out in paperback and I have read everything she has written since.
The kindle book I am reading now is Kitchens of the Great Midwest. This one combines some of my favorites – reading and food! A book with good food prominently featured along with some very accessible characters can’t go wrong. I expect to finish this one up by the end of the week.
The ‘paper’ book I am reading is for my book group – Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. I am only about half way in. I am definitely not loving it but I will finish. At this point I am comparing it to looking at the sketches that a great artist used to help put together a Masterpiece. Perhaps it will get better….