The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This was a beast of a novel to get through. The writing was dense and detail driven, but incredibly interesting and well written. (As it should be, since it won the Pulitzer Prize) I originally picked this book because Nora Ephron recommended it to me in I Feel Bad About My Neck. She writes about being in awe as she reads Kavalier and Clay and how accurately Chabon describes the writing process. So I had to read it.
Kavalier and Clay spans the long relationship of two cousins - Kavalier, a Jew on the run and trained escapist, and his shorter, polio-pained cousin Clay. Together they create comic book magic, all against the backdrop of WWII. War propaganda is one of my favorite things to study in history, and Chabon does such a great job of describing the power of comic books and their influence on children and adults. My favorite bits were the chapters on the comic book characters themselves - so good I wished they were real comics I could read later. All in all, an epic novel and a bit sad, but so much good writing.
Bittersweet by Shauna Niquest
This book. Goodness, I loved it. I loved it more than any book I've read this year. It was almost as if my older, more mature self was writing to me. Shauna's words were exactly what I needed to be reading. Her premise is simple: we can't have the sweet without the bitter. Life wouldn't be grand if we didn't have to struggle for the good things. And we don't truly understand the story of Christ if we haven't been broken -- if we haven't been reborn.
I especially loved her chapter on being twenty-five, and struggling to grow during your twenties. She talks about questions that you should ask yourself each year, like, What have I learned about God? What kind of friends encourage me to grow? What do I like about myself? How am I moving forward? Instead of being stunted during your twenties - use this crazy evolving time to mature into the adult God is shaping you to be. Don't let the decade just pass you by.
Highly, highly recommend. I can't wait to read her other books.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Have you read Special Topics in Calamity Physics? Stop what you are doing and add that to your Amazon wish list. STCP is one of my favorite books and I was thrilled when Annie let me know Pessl has just written another book. It was at my doorstep in two days. (Thank you Amazon prime.)
The story follows an investigative reporter who tries to discover the truth surrounding the suicide of a famous horror director's daughter. Cordova, the director, has a huge cult following. His movies have been banned and can only be found on the black market or underground screenings. Secrecy surrounds him, his family, and the way he directs his films.
The book has a lot of fun, visual pages - like a Time magazine photo gallery to introduce Cordova, or clippings from magazine articles. I was always so excited to get to another visual page and loved what they added to the story. I'm not one for any type of horror film, but this was more like a thriller than a horror book. I was gripped the entire novel and loved the way it was wrapped up in the end. Very satisfying read and I thought about it for days afterwards.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
I have to admit - I was imagining this to be more of a beach read/romance. But the story took me in a completely different direction. It jumps from character to character, and spans almost 50ish years, but it was done so seamlessly. Even though I only heard from each character three to four times, I felt like I really knew them.
In the author interview at the back of the book, Walter talks about book themes, and how regret plays into Beautiful Ruins. But I think this book was also about making something from regrets - not passively accepting them. I liked that the ending was unpredictable in that it was so much like reality. In a good way. A fun read, and the scenery/Hollywood descriptions were my favorite part.