Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Reading Roundup - February 2016

Let's talk books! Here's my February book reviews. What have you been reading lately?


1) My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan by Tom Foreman. 4/5 stars. This is a memoir by CNN journalist Tom Foreman about a year in which he runs four half marathons, three full marathons, and one 50+ mile ultra marathon. It's light and funny and contains one of the better explanations I've heard for why we [or, at least, I] are drawn to these events: "As people get older, life becomes all about playing it safe. We protect our jobs and our money. We guard our houses, and we try to make the world as risk-free as we can for our kids, because that is important. But along the way, you can lose yourself. You start thinking that the great adventures are all gone and that you've reached the limits." A marathon, or an ultra marathon, can be a way to test and surpass your former limits.

2) The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. 4/5 stars. I thought this book was very well written, and very, very detailed. Not only does it tell the story of the crew team, which managed to be interesting to someone profoundly uninterested in crew, but it brought to life the world in the early 1930s both in the U.S. as well as in Germany during the lead-up to WWII. It's a classic "triumph of the human spirit" story - One of my favorite literary themes. 

3) Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe. 4/5 stars. This book was charming and funny and sad. It's narrated by 10-year-old Lizzie Vogel in the year after her parents' divorce, when she and her older sister attempt to find a new husband (aka "man at the helm") for their their mother. Lizzie is delightful. But the strange thing about this book is that lots of really sad things happen - The mother is unfortunately a complete flake - But are narrated in Lizzie's matter-of-fact and slightly humorous way such that you don't know if you should laugh or cry. 

4) Persuasion by Jane Austen. 5/5 stars. This is my second favorite Jane Austen after P&P. Typically billed as "a story of second chances," it's the story of Anne Elliot's reunion with Captain Wentworth eight years after she's persuaded to break their engagement due to his lack of fortune (which he has subsequently acquired in the war). I think of it as a story of redemption, another of my favorite literary themes.

What are some of your favorite themes in literature? The "triumph against all odds" underdog story? The "unrequited love" story? I also greatly appreciate the "non-hero who saves the day" story (a la Sam Gamgee and Neville Longbottom).

I'm linking up with Life According to Steph and Jana Says for Show Us Your Books!

Life According to Steph

Happy Reading!

22 comments:

  1. I like Tom Foreman, so that first book sounds good! I've been wanting to read Boys in the Boat- glad to hear you liked it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The running book sounds interesting- maybe I will pick it up for inspiration to get the baby weight off in a few months, haha :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It definitely helped motivate me! I'm still working on the last 10 lbs from my son born in November!

      Delete
  3. Well you had a much better reading month than I did! (I had two 2-star books, oomph!). That running book has been on my goodreads wish list for a while now, glad to hear you enjoyed it! I can't even imagine getting to the point where I could run a marathon, let alone the number of long distance races he runs in one year!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm planning to do 6 races this year but none are longer than a half marathon. I keep thinking about if I want to do a marathon again. It's been almost 10 years! I don't know if I have it in me anymore... The training is such a major time commitment. Maybe when the kids are older. Or maybe I'll stick with half marathons and be content with that!

      Delete
  4. ahhhh persuasion :) i love it so much. i think it's my 2nd favourite as well, though i also really really really love emma and northanger abbey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Northanger is under appreciated I think! I like it too though. Mansfield is probably my least favorite. And sometimes I get tired of Marianne's dramatics in S&S.

      Delete
  5. Man at the Helm sounds interesting, even though I sometimes struggle with child narrators. Still, can't hurt to try it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Child narrators can go either way - They are often not my favorite but I thought this one was delightful.

      Delete
  6. I just read Persuasion this month too and I adored it! I am hard pressed to say whether it is my favourite or P&P...both are so wonderful :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder we read them all in a vacuum (no Colin Firth etc) which we would think was the best. P&P is always THE ONE.

      Delete
  7. I might need to pick Man at the Helm for book Club in April! Sounds like something I would like. The first one I would like to read too but not sure my non runner book club people would like it ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's very considerate of you... My next book club pick is something I have zero interest in unfortunately!

      Delete
  8. I'm adding Man at the Helm to my reading list, and it pains me to say this, but I have not read Persuasion and need to fix that - pronto!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know what you think if you read either!

      Delete
  9. Man at the Helm sounds interesting. I like different types of narrators.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She does have a unique voice I think... Let me know what you think!

      Delete
  10. I can't decide if I'd love or hate Man at the Helm, so I may just need to give it a look.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's probably one or the other... I don't think it's a book with a middle ground. Let me know what you think!

      Delete
  11. Thanks for the reviewsI want to read the year of running book.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Man at the Helm sounds good! I haven't read a single Jane Austen book and I was an English major. Serious fail there. I should probably at least read Emma.

    ReplyDelete

Please comment if you feel so inclined! I will reply via email if you provide your email address. If not - Check back here for a reply.