Year 4, Book 26

26. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
I read this book for one of my book clubs. It’s the true story of a neuroscientist who winds up having a stroke. As someone who studies the brain she has a unique perspective on her stroke and recovery. I actually was not that into the book while I was reading it, but in retrospect find a lot of the things she had to say extremely fascinating. Perhaps it was just her writing style that didn’t grab me because the subject itself is pretty cool. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 25

25. The Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
Bohjalian is kind of a hit and miss author for me. I have really loved some of his books and others I haven’t cared for that much. Unfortunately this book fell in the latter category for me. The book is about the supposed murder-suicide of a couple in a small town in Vermont. The story is told in 4 parts, each part from the perspective of a different character: the pastor who had an affair with the woman who was killed, the investigator of crime, a woman who writes about angels and whose parents committed a similar act when she was a teenager, and the teenage daughter of the dead couple. I really just could not get into this book. The characters never really seemed to gel for me. I just felt like the author wrote them in such a way that you couldn’t get close to them or really understand what their motivations were. This book really left me wanting. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 24

24. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Wow, it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted a book review. I would like to say it’s just because I’m backed up in my reviews, but sadly it is because I have not been reading much of late. And the pathetic reason for that is my attempt to catch up on all 6 seasons of Lost before the series finale. So I’ve spent way too much of my life recently watching episodes of Lost instead of doing other more edifying things like reading. Thankfully I am all caught up now, so I can get back to reading.

Like The South, I read Brooklyn because Colm Toibin was speaking at my library. Happily I enjoyed Brooklyn much more than I liked The South. The book follows a young woman named Eilis who emigrats from Enniscorthy, Ireland to Brooklyn. I felt a great fondness for this book while reading it, which only increased after attending a book discussion on it and listening to Toibin speak about it. As someone in the book discussion pointed out the ending paragraph of this book is hauntingly beautiful in the same way the ending lines of The Great Gatsby are. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 5, Book 23

23. The South by Colm Toibin
Colm Toibin is actually coming to speak at the library where I work in a few weeks so I am trying to make it through some of his works before the event. I read The Master years ago, but am trying to read some of his other works as well. The South takes places during the 1950s and 1960s in Ireland and Spain. The story follows a woman named Katherine who leaves her husband and 10 year old son and moves to Barcelona where she meets a fellow artist named Miguel who she quickly develops a lasting relationship with. He is referred to as her husband many times, but I don’t think they were ever officially married, nor do I think she was ever officially divorced from her first husband. I actually had a really hard time getting into this book. I didn’t really care about any of the characters and didn’t really understand their motivations. The story also seemed to try and throw historical situations such as Franco’s revolution and problems between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland into the book by making them relevant to the characters. But really none of those things took place during the story they were just mentioned peripherally and I was left thinking that those stories sounded infinitely more interesting than the one I was actually reading. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 5, Books 20-22

20. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
21. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
22. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

I’ve read some of the books from the Narnia series randomly over the years, but have never read the whole series all the way through. One of my book clubs recently read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew. After our discussion I kind of wanted to finish reading the whole series, thus I picked up the next book (as read in publication order) Prince Caspian. I have yet to start on the remaining four and am kind of losing steam already. Maybe one day.

Year 5, Book 19

19. The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
I read this book for one of my book clubs. The book has an interesting premise about a 12 year old boy who lives on a ranch in Montana with his family but is somewhat of a genius who draws maps and diagrams of all kinds of things. His work has been accepted to many prestigious science publications and displayed in places such as the Smithsonian, but no one realizes he is just a kid. He is offered some sort of award position at the Smithsonian and accepts without telling them his age. He also keeps it a secret from his family and thus tries to get from Montana to Washington D.C. by hopping a train. Much of the book takes place on his journey. I really liked the beginning of the book where you get to know T.S. Spivet and the part of his journey that takes place on the train. At some point though the book took a turn that I was not expecting and I didn’t like it as much after that. There is also somewhat of a book within a book as T.S. spends part of his train journey reading a story that his mother wrote about his grandmother. I give it a 5 out of 10.