The Year in Reading: February 2008

Ah, February. Good for little else but reading, but what reading there was!

February

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Jenny Gardiner, pub. 2008, F ****

  • Local author makes big splash by winning American Title III. Don’t let the pink cover fool you — this novel contains some tough-but-true insights into love and marriage.

On Chesil Beach: A Novel, Ian McEwan, pub. 2007, F *****

  • Not his best, but I liked it better than many did. The last half more than redeems the sometimes unintentionally goofy first half. Although one wonders — with Ian McEwan, can you be sure any effect is unintentional?

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, Frank Schaeffer, pub. 2007, NF ****

  • What can I say that the subtitle hasn’t already said, and more verbosely? Great book. You don’t often get this kind of insider’s view of the Religious Right.

The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray’s Anatomy, Bill Hayes, pub. 2007, NF ****

  • Hayes performs a skillful dissection on the illustrator of Gray’s.

Life Class: A Novel, Pat Barker, pub. 2008, F ****

  • Not Barker’s best either, but as with McEwan, her worst is merely good and the best blows you away.

Rewind, Replay, Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Jeff Bell, pub. 2007, NF ***

  • We joke a lot about OCD — it might be considered the signature disorder of our driven-to-perfection society — but Bell’s memoir illustrates the pain and shame its sufferers endure in their quest for relief.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, Elizabeth Gilbert, pub. 2007, NF *

The Commoner: A Novel, John Burnham Schwartz, pub. 2008, F ****

  • Schwartz skates a razor’s-edge from the truth in this beautiful and austere account of a “fictional” Japanese Imperial Family.

Apollo’s Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination, Michael Sims, pub. 2007, NF ****

  • I’m still searching for a subject Michael Sims hasn’t mastered, to no avail. He masters a bunch of them in the engaging and erudite Apollo’s Fire. Sims appeared at the 2008 Festival of the Book. I hope we see him back in Charlottesville soon.
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