Year 4, Book 13

13. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
I like cats and I like libraries, so of course I had to read the book about the library cat. It was about what I expected. It was a cute tale of a cat who lived in a library interspersed with some history of the town and some stories of the author’s life. I found the story to be a bit rambling at times without much of a coherent structure. It seemed like the author would start out chapters as if there were some sort of theme to the chapter and then all of a sudden would be talking about something completely different. It’s still a cute story though so if you don’t mind reading something whose writing is only mediocre and love cats you’ll like this book. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 4, Book 12

12. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
So this is the book that I meant to read instead of Lonesome Dove. It’s almost as long at just shy of 700 pages. It felt too long in same ways, but I’m not sure how it could have been any shorter either. I think the end dragged a bit for me, which was the problem. At any rate the story follows 4 generations of the Cleary family who are from Ireland and wind up in the outback of Australia after a time in New Zealand in between. Although there are many family members and generations discussed in the story it mainly revolves around Meggie and Fr. Ralph and their relationship, which can be a very frustrating relationship to read about. It was a decent book, but perhaps a bit too soapy for my taste. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 4, Book 11

11. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
Rabbit, Run is the book people always talk about in regards to John Updike. He wrote something like upwards of 50 books during his lifetime, and Rabbit, Run seemed to be his quintessential work. I had read a few other books by him and enjoyed them, so after he died I decided it was high time I read Rabbit, Run. Now I kind of wish I hadn’t.

I am not a literary critic or an English major, so I don’t go looking for great meaning or symbolism or whatever when I read a book. I read it for good characters and good plot. I didn’t find either in this book. The only thing I really liked about it was not intentional in the writing. The book was written in 1960, which made some of the stuff that happened amusing looking at it through today’s lens. For example I was highly amused reading that Rabbit considered himself to have married quite late in life at the age of 24, that his wife was almost an old maid at the age of 22 when they married, and that he pretty much has a mid-life crisis at the age of 26.

The story basically revolves around Rabbit, who was a big-shot basketball player in high school, but is not pretty much living the boring life of a suburban dad. One night he just up and leaves his pregnant wife and son and winds up moving in with a woman who may or may not be a hooker depending on how you look at it. He is a vile, self-absorbed character. He’s definitely a narcissistic personality who can’t look at anything from anyone’s perspective but his own. I loathed him so much that it just drowned out any redeeming thing that may have existed in the book. Critical acclaim or not this book was not for me. There are 3 other books in the Rabbit series, which makes me guess that he probably doesn’t really get what he has coming to him. And I don’t really want to suffer through 3 more books about him to find out, so I doubt I’ll ever read them. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Year 4, Book 10

10. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
I picked up this book because I was reading someone’s blog where they were listing the books they had read in the last year and they gave this one a glowing review referring to someone else’s review that said something about even after 945 pages you don’t want the book to be over. I can’t say that I felt that way after reading it, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The other reason I decided to read the book was because I know it had been wildly successful mini-series, which somehow in my head I confused with another wildly successful mini-series based on a book that I might actually really want to read, The Thornbirds. I realized about a 1/3 of the way into the book that I wasn’t reading what I thought. Oops.

Anyway as for Lonesome Dove itself, it wasn’t a bad book it just wasn’t my thing. I am not much into the whole cowboy/western thing, which is all this book is pretty much. The story revolves around 2 former Texas Rangers living in the small town of Lonesome Dove, TX. They wind up deciding to put together their own cattle drive up to Montana to settle the land before anyone else gets up there. The story revolves around them, their crew, and the local whore who winds up going with them (not as whore though). It was a well written book, but as I said just not the type of book I would normally choose to read. So although I wasn’t in love with it and was ready for it to be over I definitely think I’ll check out some of Larry McMurtry’s non-western books. I give it a 5 out of 10.