Friday, April 6, 2012


Hey, remember when we used to talk about books on here? Let’s do that again! Here are some books that I have read recently that stand out in my memory in a good way:

Moneyball by Michael Lewis – Yes, the movie is excellent, too. But seriously, this is a book about baseball, which I hate, and even worse, it’s a book about baseball MATH, which I hate even more than baseball. (You can also reverse that sentence – “it’s a book about math – even worse, it’s a book about BASEBALL math!” and it would still adequately convey my hatred.) AND YET! It is interesting, compelling even. I think it helps that it is a) a true story and b) an underdog story. “Everyone loves an underdog.” “I don’t.” (If you’ve seen the Hunger Games movie, you got that quote, yes?) *ahem* Back to Moneyball. The whole “Oakland A’s vs. the way baseball has been managed forever and ever, amen” is an awesome storyline. Also compelling are the notes at the end of the book, telling how much traditional baseball managers and scouts hated the book. And how they kept claiming that Billy Beane wrote the book! It’s hard to take those guys seriously when they don’t even realize that it’s an actual book, written by an actual author, and not some Billy Beane self-promotion stunt. Anyway, even though I did not expect to, I totally LOVED it. And the movie is terrific, perfectly cast. Seriously, I watched two movies in the same weekend with Phillip Seymour Hoffman in them, and they could not have been more different (Moneyball, obvs, and Ides of March), yet he was stellar in both movies and completely believable in two very different roles. What an awesome actor.

Prayer for Rain by Dennis Lehane – This is the fifth book in the Kenzie/ Gennaro series, and the strength of their storyline made me order the first, second, third, fourth and sixth books in the series from Barnes and Noble immediately. I don’t usually read series books out of order (because I am an anal retentive nerd), and I don’t know that I recommend doing that with this series, however, this is a really good book. There are lots of great plot twists and the interaction between Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro - formerly a couple, still a lot of feelings between them – make this book hard to put down.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – When I pitched it to my book club, my comment was, “Aliens and religion, people, what more can you ask for?” No description of this book will ever do it justice, and while I understand the title, it is the least descriptive, least helpful title ever. This book is a heartbreaker. If you’re like me, and can’t resist the books that tell you up front that they are going to break your heart (think Bel Canto, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and What Came Before He Shot Her), then there are not words for how much I recommend this book to you. It jumps back and forth in time from a group of friends (including a Jesuit priest) who wind up traveling to another planet to meet a race of singing aliens to the Jesuit church’s efforts to get the whole story of what happened on that mission from the Jesuit priest who is the lone survivor of the mission. So yes, you know right up front that almost all of the main characters are going to be killed off. And yes, you will cry. But! The totality of the book is wonderful. There’s also a sequel, Children of God, that is every bit as good as The Sparrow, and how often can you say that about a sequel?

So tell me, what have you been reading lately?