September Round-Up

I’m not going to write full length reviews on all the books I read as that would be, most months, just a bit too much, and about some books I have significantly less than I do about others. As an alternative to blogging about each book individually, my goal will be to do a round-up of each month’s books read with some brief comments about the ones I don’t review here in full. Plan outlined, now onto the execution, beginning with September!

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore—I’ve had Moore on my to-read list for a few years now, having heard that his books are funny, fast-paced works of good old fashioned story-telling. I chose this one to begin with because I had it on my Kindle and came across it when looking for a light bedtime read, and I suppose it did hit that mark, but overall I was a bit disappointed. The novel is about a man named Charlie who is juggling a newborn daughter (Sophie) in the wake of his wife’s sudden death, ownership of a secondhand store staffed by two borderline incompetent misfits (Lily and Ray), and a rather bumpy transition into an alternative career track as a Death Merchant. I found the absurdist aspects of the tale to be delightful, but each character fell flat to me, the jokes became quickly repetitive and the gags just made the story seem to drag on and on, and more than once I found myself cringing at racist and sexist undertones both in the humor and the narrative voice itself. I want to give Moore another shot eventually, but I’ll need a bit of a breather first.

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable History; Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies; and Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists by J.K. Rowling—Obviously, as a lifelong Harry Potter fan I had to download these Pottermore ebooks, and obviously I devoured them all in a single wonderful afternoon. Some of the material was more or less straight off of Pottermore, but I don’t keep up with Pottermore for various carefully deliberated upon reasons which I will not get into here, so I can’t say how much of the content is regurgitated and how much original, but it was mostly all fresh to me, and I enjoyed it. I, like many others, take umbrage at Rowling’s repeated arbitrary alterations to canon, but the stories in these three ebooks felt more purposeful and interesting than, say, random tweets about Dumbledore’s sexuality, and I was pleased to have them.

The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson—I reviewed this here. (As an aside, my copy of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life arrived in the mail today and I squealed a bit fangirlishly. I’m trying to make myself finish Chernow’s biography of the Morgans before I delve into another biography, but I may not be able to wait.)

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins—I reviewed this here.

How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson—I wanted very much to like this book, and at times I very much did. But other times—such as when he was being unnecessarily sexist, such as when he was being very very classist, such as when his humor just fell flat and he seemed to live in a world divorced from reality—I had to fling the book down with a roll of the eyes and take a breather. Consequently, this short and often addictingly funny book took me an absurd amount of time to get through, and I’m not sure the payout was worth the effort to keep motivating myself to pick it back up. It did provide much food for thought, though, and I’ve been thinking a great deal since reading it about both the arguments it, often with tongue firmly in cheek, proffered as well as about the manner in which it was written. Perhaps I’ll get around to giving this one a more fully developed review later on this month, but perhaps I will not. Who can say.

Howard the Duck Volume 0: What the Duck by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones—I bought this after getting into the new(ish) Squirrel Girl series written by Ryan North for Marvel, which I adore so very very much, and I was hoping it would be something different, of course, but in the same vein—smart and funny and written for a twenty-first century audience. I suppose it was in its way, but it wasn’t as well done, ultimately, as Squirrel Girl, and I was disappointed. My disappointment is likely my own fault in part, for having such high expectations that it would resemble a very original thing that I have up on a high pedestal, a height it couldn’t possibly achieve.

The Twits by Roald Dahl—Somehow I went through childhood being a rabidly fervent Dahl fan and skipped this book entirely. I have vague memories of checking the book out of the school library on more than one occasion and then being promptly bored by the opening gambit about Mr. Twit’s beard and so giving up. This time around I found said section about Mr. Twit’s beard riotously amusing, and I enjoyed the book very much.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon—I reviewed this here.

Crimson Peak: The Official Movie Novelization by Nancy Holder—About this one, pretty much all I can say is that it’s exactly what one should expect from a movie novelization. The writer and I obviously interpreted Edith’s motivations differently, but I could’ve guessed as much before reading the thing. It was a nice bedtime book for me when I was too sleepy to follow even the most basic of plots, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more movie novelizations anytime soon.

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MONTH—Scott Hawkins’s The Library at Mount Char. As I’ve said already many times on this blog, this was an absolutely delightful debut novel and one I’m still thinking a lot about weeks after finishing it. I highly, highly recommend it.