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?


Swistle said...

You had me at Bel Canto. The Sparrow, added to reading list.

Pickles and Dimes said...

Oh, I loved Moneyball. LOVED IT. Read the book awhile ago and saw the movie maybe a month ago. I love any kind of underdog story, especially when it comes to baseball (see also: my love affair with the movie Major League), so this was right up my alley. (I also love that the Twins are one of those teams who have to dig mightily to find those cheap but talented players.)

I just finished reading the Fifty Shades trilogy. Right now I'm slogging through a bunch of Kindle freebies, although I need to beef up my actual library book requests.

Shelly said...

Swistle - I'm so glad you loved Bel Canto! People either love it or hate it, and it always makes me sad when they hate it.

I think you will LOVE The Sparrow. The sequel, Children of God, pulls a bit of a switch by going back on something that happened in The Sparrow, but it's really good, also.

Shelly said...

Shauna - Moneyball seems like just your thing! I didn't expect to like it, but I really loved it.

How is the 50 shades trilogy? I've heard a lot about it,but I can't decide if I want to read it or not.

Gina said...

I've been on a reading kick (I'm always on a reading kick, but sometime I go into overdrive) and in the past week, I have read The Darkest Child, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and Heft and loved all three.

Shelly said...

Hey Gina!

I've heard really good things about Heft - I will have to find it.

nicole said...

It has been ages since I visited here, and then Swistle linked to your book post and I have to comment because it is books.

I loved the Sparrow so much. But I do not remember loving Children of God nearly as much. Hmmm.

I love baseball. I love underdogs. But I have no desire to read or see Moneyball. And the manager for my favorite team, Texas Rangers, coached with the A's at the time of the book and I still don't have a ton of interest. Weird.

I think I didn't know there was a sixth book in the Lehane series. I've read all of the others. Love them so much. So, so much.

I suggested Swistle check out Gods of Gotham by Lydnsay Faye (or somehting). A fabulous mystery set in 1845 NYC about cops and politics and religion and it just has really great characters.

Shelly said...

Hey Nicole! Well, it's been ages since I've written here, but I'm trying to get back into the habit.

Yeah, I think a lot of people feel that way about The Sparrow and Children of God. I definitely think The Sparrow is the better book, but I liked Children of God, too.

HAHA, well, obviously I recommend Moneyball, but you may not like it.

I had read Mystic River years ago, and I saw the movie of Gone Baby Gone, but I hadn't read any of the Kenzie and Gennaro books until now. I just started the first one, so I'm looking forward to reading them all.

I saw your comment on her post. That does sound really good - I'll add it to my list.