Last month, I talked about a new feature that I planned to do - Blogger Recommends. Every month, I bookmark some of the strongest book recommendations that I come across. Most are books I hear about for the first time, others are books I've previously not been interested in, but this particular blogger has managed to convince me otherwise. Then, I choose one title from the list and read the book.
I know I still haven't reviewed my last month's choice for Blogger Recommends - Kafka on the Shore, from my list of August finds. But, I'm still grappling the ohmygodliness of this book and trying to figure it out on a lot of levels, so once I have a pattern emerging, I'll hit the Post button. But for now, before it becomes too late to still say 'October', I wanted to highlight some amazing titles and reviews I found last month, while I debate which one to read next.
My Top Five Finds
1. Last month, Amy of Amy Reads reviewed A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight as part of a project she was doing with Amanda to read the books recommended by the Association of Black Women Historians as alternatives to The Help. I haven't read an African-American literature in close to a year, and although I have a lot of good choices at hand, I haven't had the time to pick any of them yet. A Million Nightingales sounded to me a great place to resume my African-American reading - fourteen year old Moinette, is sold into slavery in early 19th-century Louisiana, without a chance to say goodbye to her mother. Being bright and imaginative, however, she begins to plot her escape.
2. I have never read an Ian McEwan book. He is one of those authors who receives strongly polar reviews - people either love his books or hate them with a passion. And that's usually all the motivation I need to read a book, just to know which camp I will be in. Except I wasn't sure where to start. Ti of Book Chatter reviewed On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan last month and this was a title I hadn't heard about. And everything about this book screamed character focus - which I love the most in the books I read. Two newly married people, who barely know much about each other sit to dine one evening at a hotel. What follows is a focus into the past and the insecurities of these two people while they have their dinner date, and before long things begin to change.
3. Last month, Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea reviewed Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz, which funnily sounds like it could be a Richard Yates book, from the title alone. One family on a road trip stops at a gas station when their ten-year old son Josh walks towards the road. Another father is driving to his ex-wife's home to drop his son before the visitation hours is up when he hits Josh, but drives on thinking he only hit a dog. What follows is a story of the two fathers, one grieving, and the other struggling to spend time with his son. In a way, this book reminded me of Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt.
4. My fourth find was The Alienist by Caleb Carr, which I have to admit, I was never interested in before. I think it is the simplicity of the title, which sounds too general to me and doesn't capture any intrigue. But last month, Stephanie at Reviews by Lola wrote a convincing review that finally made me want to wishlist this psychologist thriller about teenage male prostitutes being murdered by a serial killer in 1896 New York City.
5. When I read Jackie's review at Farm Lane Books of The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, I knew I had to read it. My chief attraction to this book has to do with its very morbid content - about a teenage boy who kills three people and tortures animals. I can usually stand through human murders, but let's see how the animal tortures get to me. Mostly, it's the fact that the reader gets into the mind of the protagonist that makes me want to read it.
Other titles that caught my fancy
6. Strangers by Taichi Yamada - Dolce Belleza.
7. Strangers by Anita Brookner - Book Chatter. Some day, I promise to read Anita Brookner.
8. Absent by Betool Khedairi - Farm Lane Books.
9. The New Kids by Brooke Hauser - A Striped Armchair. Because it's about immigrants. I think I've felt like one for most of my life, even in my own home country.
10. To be With Her by Syed Afzal Haider - The Boston Bibliophile.
My first choice for reading this month: The Wasp Factory. I already have my copy coming in, and can't wait to start. What would your choice be?