Around the Year in 100 Books

Year 12, Book 75 November 18, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — dwhren @ 12:09 am

75. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka is a teenage boy living in Japan who runs away from home to search for his long lost missing sister and mother as well as to avoid fulfilling an Oedipal prophecy that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Along the way he is picked up an old man named Nakata, who suffered some mystery affliction during World War II that now allows him to talk to cats among other things.

I really could not explain to you exactly what this novel is about. It mostly made no sense to me. Even talking about it at book club didn’t help me understand it anymore. I did not really care for it. I give it a 3 out of 10.


Year 12, Book 74 November 17, 2017

Filed under: Books — dwhren @ 11:59 pm

74. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fifteen year old Kambili lives in Nigeria under the stern and often abusive rule of her father, who is a powerful man in the local Catholic church. When political turmoil in Nigeria puts her family in danger, she and her older brother are sent to live for a time with her aunt and cousins in another part of the country. There they escape the iron fist of their father and begin to learn there is another way to live before they are abruptly yanked back into the turmoil of their life at home.

This was a really good book that brings up a lot of interesting questions about faith, family, and what it means to be a good person. It definitely left me with a lot to think about and gave a lot of fodder for our book club conversation. I give it a 7 out of 10.



Year 12, Book 73

Filed under: Books — dwhren @ 11:49 pm

73. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Fifty-something Hanna’s life has not turned out the way she planned. She’s returned to the small town in Ireland where she grew up to live with the mother she doesn’t get along with after her husband leaves her for his long time mistress. Now she’s stuck working at the tiny library instead of the once more promising career she had in London and even the library is in danger of closing unless she can figure out a way to save it.

This was an okay book for these type of cozy little stories set in small Irish towns. I just couldn’t stop thinking about what a terrible librarian Hanna is the whole time I was reading it. That might not bother anyone who isn’t a librarian, for someone who is like me, it annoyed me. I give it a 5 out of 10.


Year 12, Book 72

Filed under: Books — dwhren @ 11:44 pm

72. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

This is a collection of short stories by Tom Hanks. The common thread amongst them is that they all feature a type writer of some sort. Sometimes the typewriter figures prominently in the story and sometimes there is just a typewriter mentioned in passing. This book fell prey to my general feelings about short stories, which is that I don’t love them, and the general rule of compilations of works like short stories, which is that they rarely all can reach a level of greatness. There’s usually some winners and a lot of so-so or not-so-great stories. That was pretty much the case here. There were a couple that I found completely lovely, but for the most part they okay, and there were one or two that I didn’t really care for at all. I give it a 5 out of 10.


Year 12, Book 71

Filed under: Books — dwhren @ 11:39 pm

71. What We Lose By Zenzi Clemmons

I can’t really tell you what this book was about. It’s been a little while since I read it, and all I can recall about it is that it is a very bizarre combination of stream of consciousness, vignettes, articles. It also moved back in time, which confused things even more. I didn’t really care for it. I give it 3 out of 10.


Year 12, Book 70 November 14, 2017

Filed under: Books — dwhren @ 3:55 am

70. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

I’ve heard a lot of praise and a lot of derision about this book. I have no experience with J.D. Vance outside of reading it, and I gather some of his interviews, etc. have added fuel to the fire. I took it for what it was, a book about his personal experience. I know he tries to expound on that to make it a pronouncement about the whole Appalachian culture. He’s welcome to his view of his lived experience and how he sees where he grew up. It doesn’t make it the only view point, but I don’t discount it as just that. I won’t take it as the be all and end all statement about that community. I found it to be an interesting read, and that’s all I’m basing my review on. I give it a 6 out of 10.


Year 12, Book 69

Filed under: Books — dwhren @ 3:46 am

69. The Hamlet Fire: A Tragic Story of Cheap Food, Cheap Government, and Cheap Lives by Bryant Simon

Bryant Simon uses the tragedy of a fire at a Hamlet, NC chicken factory in 1991 that killed a number of workers due to unsafe working conditions to discuss issues that still exist today. The pursuit of cheap food, profit, deregulation, lax oversight, and the view that certain people are disposable all led to this tragedy, and continue to persist over 25 years later.

It’s an infuriating book that helped continue to degrade my view of humanity. Ultimately though it’s a bit scattered and the various pieces of the book don’t completely fit together well. It’s definitely one of those books that would have been better as a long form article in say The New Yorker than something dragged out into a full-length book that the author really doesn’t have enough content to fill. I give it a 5 out of 10.