Reading, Reviews

Fall Reading List – Fiction Update

So I know all the people on the internet have been holding their breath, waiting to see how the Fall Reading List is turning out. Wait no more! Today I’ll tell you my thoughts on the three novels I’ve read so far.

First, I read Rosie by Ann Lamott. I really wish I had done some more research and asked around about what Lamott book I should start with. My whole purpose was to get a taste of this writer whom so many of my friends admire. I picked one of her earlier novels, and that was a mistake. The characters were so unlikable! Except for Rosie, of course, who was not featured in the book as much as she should have been. Her mother Elizabeth was the main character, and she was a pretty miserable individual. Rosie featured some very dark themes, such as alcoholism, child abuse, sexual immorality, and drug abuse, without offering much hope. On the flip side, I’m looking forward to reading some of Lamott’s books she wrote after converting to  Christianity. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year looks intriguing. I admire Lamott’s writing style.

Next up was The Grapes of Wrath. I chose that American classic because I’m a student of literature and I thought I should finally be acquainted with the infamous Joads. From a literary perspective, it’s clearly a great book. As for whether or not I enjoyed it, I didn’t really. It was raw. I guess that’s what a lot of American Literature is, and that’s why I’m not a big fan. Our country is relatively young and the harsh, hard landscape of American life for the first two centuries makes the literature produced by it pretty rough sometimes. I’m too squeamish for some of it.

Finally, and worst of all, was The Signature of All Things. Elizabeth Gilbert became famous for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. One of the reasons I read at all is to understand what the people around me relate to and what makes them tick. So many people loved that memoir, I had to pick it up and see what it was about. While I found Gilbert’s search for meaning to be pretty empty, I did like her writing style. The Signature of All Things is Gilbert’s first novel since Eat, Pray, Love. It’s about a botanist named Alma, born in 1800, to a flamboyant scoundrel who becomes rich on botanical medicines, and a Dutch mother. None of these characters are very endearing. What’s worse, the confused, garbled, search for meaning theme from Eat, Pray, Love continues with even less clarity. There is a Creator, there is mysticism, there is evolution, there is harsh Quakerism, and it all makes very little sense to me. What’s worse, the novel drags on for 500 pages (on my Nook) and spends a lot of time on the qualities of moss. I am sure that there is a lot going on under the surface in this novel, but I didn’t find it a worthwhile pursuit.

In conclusion, the novels have been a let down so far. But the nonfiction has been great! So look for some rave reviews on that in the next few days.



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