Year 2, Book 7

7. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
I had heard such good things about this book, and I really enjoyed his second book Middlesex, so I was rather disappointed that I didn’t really care for this book. The story is about 5 daughters from one family that all commit suicide over the course of a year. It is told from the point of view of an apparent neighbor from some time in the future. I really didn’t like the perspective it was written from. I hate books where the narrator is telling the story of something they weren’t really there to see and thus piece it together from what they witnessed and other people just so happened to witness. It becomes really unbelieveable that people would happen to be around at all these particular moments or somehow know all these particular things. If you want the story told from the third person perspective just write it that way. No need for some random narrator in a story like this. Particularly when in cases like this you don’t even know anything about the narrator except that he appears to be some kind of neighbor of the family. You never even learn the narrator’s name. In addition, having the story told from this perspective makes it so you have no real insight into this family and why they are the way they are or why all the daughters kill themselves. And in fact it doesn’t make me care that any of them are dead. So basically I was pretty dissatisfied with this book. I give it a 6 out 10.

Year 2, Book 6

6. All Fisherman are Liars by Linda Greenlaw
The newest book about fishing tales by Linda Greenlaw. I enjoyed her other 2 books so I figured I would check this one out. She regales the reader with stories from her life and the lives of other fisherman that she knows. I enjoyed it. I give it 8 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 5

5. Baltimore Noir edited by Laura Lippman
Let me state at the beginning that I don’t really like short stories or crime fiction and thus I’m probably not the best person to judge this collection of crime short stories. I only picked it up because it was all stories written in neighborhoods in Baltimore. I also was especially curious to read the story written by David Simon since I love the Wire and have really enjoyed both his non-fiction books (The Corner and Homicide). But it turns out that the story he wrote was really just a rewrite of one of the stories from the Wire with the characters names changed. So that was kind of a let-down. Someone who enjoys short stories and crime fiction better than I might actually enjoy this book, but I really didn’t. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 4

4. Montana, 1948 by Larry Watson
A story told from the point of view of a man looking back on things that happened in his life during the summer of 1948. It was decent, but somehow I didn’t really care much about the characters, and the story just didn’t seem to go in depth enough for me. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 3

3. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
A very interesting and informative look at the history of salt. I learned a lot reading this book including how influential salt has been throughout history, how many things that have entered our lexicon are based on salt, and lots of disgusting meals mostly made from fish that people have used salt for. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 2

2. A Widow for One Year by John Irving
I’ve seen a bunch of movies based on John Irving’s books, but I had never read one of his books, so in the mood for a fiction book I finally decided to check one out. I chose A Widow for One Year because I had seen the movie The Door in the Floor, which is based on the book, and was curious about how where the title of the book came from because it definitely didn’t relate to the movie at all. Well it turns out that the movie is based on only the first third of the book, and the title of the book comes from something that happens much later in the book. But at least I know where it comes from now. I mostly enjoyed the book. I definitely liked the beginning better. It felt like it was getting tedious at the end and was dragging on way too long. Many of the characters were writers and Irving felt the need to throw in random chapters supposedly from the books written by the characters, which I felt was mostly unnecessary and made the book drag on. Plus the ending felt too easy and wrapped up too neatly after a lot of strife throughout, which felt way too unrealistic to me. But I guess people like a happy ending. I’ll give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 2, Book 1

1. Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen E. Ambrose
This book covers the history of the building of the transcontinental railroad. It was kind of interesting. Based on everything he said I’m surprised that the railroad ever managed to get finished or at least finished in any form that would actually support a train. But I also felt there wasn’t quite enough narrative for my taste, and I couldn’t keep all the people straight. Not to mention the fact that I’m retarded and it took me until about halfway through the book to get straight that the Central Pacific was building from the West Coast eastward through California and over the Sierra Nevadas, and the Union Pacific was building from the central of the country to the west. I think it was the whole Central part of their name that threw me. I kept thinking Central equals center of the country, but that would be completely wrong. I’ll give it a 6 out of 10.