Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Cover of Angela's AshesI mentioned in a previous review that I'd read quite a few depressing books for book club. Well, it's not just book club.
Below is a round-up of some depressing books for days when you just want to wallow. Books I've previously reviewed are linked to the appropriate post; in between are some quickie reviews.
You didn't think I only read one book a month, did you?!
9-11 Artists Respond
Angela's Ashes -- This book ticked off Ireland. We know the young boy in the bad neighborhood with the troubled family eventually grows up and makes good, but when you read this book you have your doubts. Doesn't quite live up to the hype, but still very good.
Birds Without Wings
Gilead -- A widowed minister remarries in old age and has a child with his much-younger second wife. He then meanders through the book, contemplating his impending death and everything he wants his son to know. Touching if you can get through it.
The Giver -- In a time and place where everything is the same, one person in the community must hold all of mankind's memories, to keep the leaders of the community from making bad decisions based on ignorance. Jonas, at 12, has been chosen to fill this role. Dark, thought-provoking, and a surprisingly quick read.
The Good Earth -- A poor man starts a family, manages to accumulate land a bit at a time, and finally gets rich. Mo' money, mo' problems, anyone? Another award-winner, and decently informative.
The Knitting Circle -- A woman experiences tragedy and her marriage starts to fall apart because of it. She's convinced to join a knitting group, and learns that every member of the group has been through something horrific in one way or another. Not just the little everyday hard stuff we all deal with, but, like, gang rape. I'm not exaggerating. Very chick-lit, if that's your thing.
Linden Hills -- Once upon a time, a community was founded for upwardly-mobile African-American families. But generations of corrupt landlords and status-hungry tenants have turned this prestigious neighborhood into something vaguely resembling Dante's vision of Hell. I read this for a
Theology class; we kind of focused on that metaphor.
Maus I and Maus II
The Memory Keeper's Daughter -- A doctor and his wife have twins. One twin has Down's Syndrome. Rather than raising the child, the doctor sends a nurse to take her a group home, and tells his wife their daughter died. This pretty much ruins the life of all involved, with the exception of the daughter and, eventually, the nurse. Addresses issues we might not think about.
Night -- What is it ab out the nature of God -- or the nature of Man -- that allowed young Elie to survive the Holocaust when so many others did not? One of those books everyone should read.
Parable of the Sower -- A young woman with intriguing ideas about religion has to make her way across California with a destitute band of survivors after her gated community is destroyed. Not an optimistic view of our future, but a great read. Likewise its sequel, Parable of the Talents, in which all of the heroine's plans are destroyed and we lose a little sympathy with her.
The Road -- After the world as we know it ends, a father and his young son try to escape nuclear winter and find enough clean food and water to survive. And excellent book, but not one to inspire optimism.
Silence -- Jesuit priests go to Japan to spread the gospel and find out what happened to one of their own who has gone missing. It doesn't end well. A fantastic translation, I'm told.
The Silent Woman
The Sparrow -- Oh, those wacky Jesuits are at it again. This time, they travel to a planet where intelligent life has been discovered. We learn on the first page that only one of them has survived, and he has been through hell. I don't exaggerate. Actually one of my favorites, but hardly light and fluffy.
A Thread of Grace
Watchmen -- Sorry, but as awesome as this graphic novel is -- and it is, trust me -- it is not cheerful. At all. Don't tell me you saw the movie so you don't need to read the book. It doesn't work that way.
So. That ought to do it. You go ahead and get all depressed, while I see what I can find to cheer us up. Enjoy!