two very different books that I recently read

January 12, 2010

These reviews are re-posted from my Goodreads account, because I figured you all might have some interest.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I read this book for two main reasons.  First I figured I should give Cormac McCarthy another chance, despite the fact that his book No Country for Old Men left me feeling confused as to why an author would even bother writing such a depressing book.* Stories about bleakness, hopelessness and the general evil lot that is humanity don’t really interest me that much.  While I don’t consider myself a sunshine and care bears optimist, hope and a general sense of possibility are incredibly important to me in life and literature.  But I figured even an author, such as McCarthy, who is renowned for creating literature that plays on much of those first themes, deserves more than one chance.

Second, this book, set in the bleakest possible post-apocalyptical world, was chosen by Oprah for her book club.  Now while I admit that I tend to enjoy Oprah from time to time (her magazine O is slightly addicting) I don’t consider her taste ultra-important in my book selection.  However if the queen of middle America herself would select this book and recommend it, I figured it had to have a ray or two of hope in there somewhere.

And I have to admit I was impressed, this book was the first time that I was able to look beyond the harshness of McCarthy’s landscape and see the reasons he is considered a great American author.  While the descriptions of this book as bleak, depressing, and utterly dark are true, at its core it is a remarkable tale of parental love.  Love that remains so rooted in human experience, that even after all the rest of society has been stripped away, some individuals still carry on.  So yes I do recommend this book, with the caveat that while I liked it, it is still one of the darkest books I have ever read.**

*Knowing my reaction to the book I should never have tried to watch the movie which instead of leaving me “meh” left me with with the strongest hatred I have ever felt for a movie.

** If you can, give it a read while it is still winter and the trees bare.  That way when you look out at barren Pennsylvania as you drive the 11 hours home you will almost be able to see the shabby father and son walking across the frozen dead landscape.

Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put by Vivian Swift

I purposely read this book slowly.  Full of beautiful watercolor illustrations (That oddly enough make me think that if I just dug out some watercolors, I could paint like that too. Which is far from the truth, but still I like art that makes you think you can create things just as beautiful) and episodic journal entries that follow a year of village life along the Long Island Sound, this book was inspiring.  For much of her life Swift moved from city to city and country to country, but for 10 years (the time span in which the book was written) she stayed put and her journal reflects both that life of travel and her interest in setting down roots.

This was a Christmas gift from my Dad and I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy, or at least sneaking in to your favorite library/bookstore and looking at all the great pictures.

One comment

  1. I appreciated your reviews. Nicely worded- makes me want to read both!

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