Books I Read This Week

I have, once again, gone on a crazy reading binge. Over the past week, I finished one novel and read three more within four days. I don't think I'm through yet, but I figured I would blog about what I have read now before the list becomes unmanageable.

Nicholas Nickleby // Charles Dickens

Since I made a goal to read all of Charles Dickens' novels by the time I am 30, I really need to get cracking. I attempted to read Nicholas Nickleby once before and gave up about a third of the way through. I started it this time because I had nothing else to read and it was on my shelf, giving me a guilt trip (just like Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son, and The Old Curiosity Shop still are). Nevertheless, I got through it this time and found it to be one of my favorite Dickens novels.

If you've never read Dickens, let me just say that he uses a lot of words. His books are long and have intricate plots that interweave throughout, and all sorts of outrageous characters with even more outrageous names. I definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to get through one of his novels. But I always find that when I am finished, I feel like I have accomplished something.

By way of summary, Nicholas Nickleby relates the story of the title character, his mother, and sister after their father's unfortunate death. They are left destitute and are forced to find some way to provide for themselves. There is a lot of treachery involved as they seek the aid of their uncle Ralph. But of course, everyone gets what they deserve in the end... well, almost everyone.
"Although a man may lose a sense of his own importance when he is a mere unit among a busy throng, all utterly regardless of him, it by no means follows that he can dispossess himself, with equal facility, of a very strong sense of the importance and magnitude of his cares."

Odd Thomas // Dean Koontz

I finished Nicholas Nickleby and couldn't stand to be bookless while Dave was still reading Harry Potter, so away to the library I went. I had heard about Odd Thomas from my brother, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I all day spent Saturday reading it... and finishing it. I couldn't put it down because each chapter ended in such a way to make me feel like I needed to read just one more chapter before I stopped... until I read the entire thing.

Odd Thomas tells the story of a young man who sees dead people, which sort of struck me as a knock-off of The Sixth Sense. He sees dead people and helps solve crimes. He also sees things he calls bodachs, which are shadowy creatures that appear to witness particularly gruesome crimes. The up side is that the bodachs help him to prevent terrible things from happening. The down side is that they lead him into trouble. So one day, tons of bodachs show up and Odd uses his supernatural abilities to track down a would-be criminal and, hopefully, stop the event that the bodachs are so excited about. It was suspenseful and a little disturbing (and a tiny bit predictable), but I really liked it and intend to read the rest of the Odd books as soon as I remember to request them at the library.
"A great deal of phenomenal experience has fostered in me a flexibility of the mind and imagination that some might call madness."

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky // Heidi Durrow

I found this book on Amazon's Best Books of 2009 list. It was a good read, as promised. It is about a girl who is half Danish, half African American. Rachel is the sole survivor of a family tragedy. She is sent to live with her grandmother and the book follows her through her teenage years as the secrets of the tragic day are revealed through the memories of other characters, and ultimately Rachel herself. It is a coming-of-age story for both Rachel and a more minor character, Brick. In the end, Rachel and Brick both seem to figure out who they are and who they aren't.
"A woman made of parts is a dangerous thing. You never know when she'll throw away a piece you may need."

The Goose Girl // Shannon Hale

I decided to read The Goose Girl mainly because Shannon Hale is in our ward and I had heard good things about the book. The only Shannon Hale book I had read before was Austenland, which I enjoyed, but that book is a lot different from this one. Austenland is more modern fiction. The Goose Girl is a fantasy novel about a princess who can speak to birds. Through a series of unfortunate events, she ends up tending geese for the king of a neighboring kingdom, then ultimately resuming her rightful place in the palace. The book was a fun read with exciting twists and memorable characters (both human and animal). It's got a good mix of action and romance. Plus it is fun to read something written by someone you know in real life so you can really see the author's personality come through.
"Right now I'd like all my troubles to stand in front of me in a straight line, and one by one I'd give each a black eye."


Dave said...

I'm not sure how well I would do with Dickens. My mind started to wander just reading the pull quote.

Christie said...

I'm supposed to be suggesting books for my August book club.. maybe one of these..

Kirsten said...

I'm with Christie. Tonight is our book club dinner when we choose books for the next year. I'm thinking maybe "The Girl Who Fell From the Sky" will be my suggestion.

Caitlinp said...

Hmm...books I read this week: ___________________________________.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book list. I'll give it a whirl but no promises on Dickens. I hate reading with a dictionary. It feels like school not pleasure and I definitely read for pleasure.