20. Talk to the snail: Ten commandments for understanding the French by Stephen Clarke
A comedic and somewhat snarky look at French culture written by a British ex-pat living in France. Tres amusent. I give it an 8 out of 10.
19. The Call of the Weird by Louis Theroux
This book is somewhat of a follow-up story to a series of BBC documentaries produced about 10 years ago called Weird Weekends with Louis Theroux. In the book Theroux goes back and revisits the people/groups that investigated in the television series. I’m not sure that weird is the accurate term as he looked at such things as the porn industry, the rap industry, legal brothels, UFO believers, and white supremacists. I didn’t find the book that interesting or that informative. I think I might have enjoyed it more had I actually seen any of the television series and viewed the book as somewhat of a where are they now type deal, but I’ve never seen the show and thus I didn’t really enjoy it. I was interested in watching the show though. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to be available. Oh well.
18. Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
This book was a fairly quick read, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is the fictional tale of a woman who left Orthodox Judaism and then has to confront her past when she returns to the community for the funeral of her father, who was the exalted rabbi of said community. I give it an 8 out of 10.
17. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I decided to read this book because I’ve never read any Steinbeck, which is probably some sort of crime for someone who reads as much literature as I do, and I got interested in this subject when I read the Worst Hard Time. Unfortunately the Grapes of Wrath was not what I was expecting. And I totally didn’t get the end, or at least I hope I’m interpreting the end wrong because otherwise it’s super creepy. I know it’s a classic, but I only give it a 4 out of 10.
16. Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
This first half of this book covers the arrest and imprisonment of Elaine Bartlett, who was sentenced to 20 years to life for a first time drug offense under New York state’s Rockefeller drug laws. These laws state that any class A-1 drug offense results in a minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
The second half the book chronicles the 3 years after her release from prison and her struggles to make it on the outside. It gives an excellent look at the problems and issues that most prisoners face once they are released. Particularly anyone who has done significant time. I give it an 8 out of 10.
15. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
This book was a bit too absurdist for my taste. There were several very poigant things that happened in the book and I liked the ideas behind some of the stuff and the way some of it was handled. There were certain lines in the book that reoccurred throughout the book that I found quite meaningful, but there was a whole lot of absurd things that happened and some of the poignant things that happened in a way became absurd, which rather ruined them for me. So I only give this book a 6 out of 10.
14. Four Little Blessings by Merrillee Whren
Well actually at the time I read this it was still a manuscript because my mom wanted me to edit it before she sent it off to her editor, but it’s still a book just not quite in published form yet. Again it’s my mom’s book, so I’m not going to rate it because that’s just weird.