Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book clubbing in March

Neither of the March titles selected by my book clubs captivated me much this month. I found myself skimming rapidly and forcing myself to finish both titles, thinking maybe I could come up with good excuses, like being busy at work. In the end I slogged through, trying to give these books a chance, looking for good things to say.

Earlier this month, it was the Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway. Nicki's pick, and by coincidence, the title the Toronto Public Library recently announced as their One Book for Community Reads. I remember voting for this one at last year's AGM, but when it came time to read it I was resisting from the very first page, predicting the author was going to kill off everyone in the book before the end. As it turns out, not quite everyone.

Technically good, a very substantive story. But. As much as I appreciated the novel's merits, I didn't quite connect with it and found myself skimming through and absolutely hating the end. Yes, we are lucky not to have to dodge sniper bullets in the middle of our city, and to live in relative peace. So I'm not arguing with the book's message, I'm just saying I felt a bit 'techniqued' and manipulated. I was the only one at book club voicing the opinion and I admit that maybe I could have been a bit more diplomatic when I said the end was verging on cliche.

Next up: The Secret Keeper at the BPYC book club. This is a book I would not normally pick up, and it was another page turner, in the sense of turning the pages really really fast. Tap tap tap on the e-reader. The bestseller could have benefited from stronger editing as it did go on and on in places.

A bit of a frolic, not to be taken too seriously. The plot itself was pretty entertaining, with a great twist (that only Kaarina saw coming). There are some wonderfully vivid scenes and great moments, but I didn't feel too bad about speed reading. I have to admit though, some of the scenes are really sticking with me, like the one of the 60-ish woman up in her childhood treehouse with her brother.  Just overlook the logic of how it withstood 4 decades of neglect, had no rickety boards or gaping holes or spiders.

I haven't really, really enjoyed a book in awhile, so I picked up the Orenda on the way home tonight, winner of Canada Reads.  Here's hoping.

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