Quarterly Book Report: October 2015

The last few months have been busy with work and life and visitors and mini-vacations where I wanted to read a lot but barely picked up a book. I'm also partway through about 5 different books that I can't seem to finish (probably because I won't just focus on one of them).

So this book report covers just four books. Though I should say that two of them were a combined 1600 pages (or 70 hours, if you listened to them like I did). 

Marilynne Robinson

"People talk about how wonderful the world seems to children, and that's true enough. But children think they will grow into it and understand it, and I know very well that I will not, and would not if I had a dozen lives."

This quiet story of an elderly preacher's coming to terms with his life and the lives of his fathers - from the Civil War to the twentieth century - is told with such intimacy that it can be painful in its beauty. John Ames's voice is warm and humble and one of the most resounding tributes to a life of honest faith I've ever encountered. This is one to be read slowly, letting each word sink into your head and your heart.  

The Name of the Wind*
Patrick Rothfuss

"To deem us simply enemies is to lose the true flavor of our relationship. It was more like the two of us entered into a business partnership in order to more efficiently pursue our mutual interest of hating each other."

Patrick Rothfuss's debut novel about Kvothe, a young boy who grows to be a legend, is compelling and beautifully written. The book is fantasy, and there is magic at the heart of it, but I hesitate to call it fantasy, knowing that there are those who write the genre off automatically. I am not generally drawn to it myself, but after having the book recommended to me by two of my favorite people, I gave it a try. This book is not truly fantastical (though totally cool if that's your thing). It reads like historical fiction from another civilization - one very similar to ours but with a different set of rules. 

I had minor quibbles with Rothfuss as I read, but on the whole, this book devoured me. That's right. It devoured me, not the other way around. I couldn't think of anything else. All I wanted was to get back to the story. I fell in love with this world and these characters. I highly recommend it.

The Wise Man's Fear*
Patrick Rothfuss

"It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That's as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect."

I'd barely finished the last sentence of The Name of the Wind before I was downloading A Wise Man's Fear. Much of my thoughts on Rothfuss's first book carry through to his second, though I thought it was slow at times and wasn't quite as strong on the plot front. Of course, because the books are part of a trilogy, there was absolutely no way I wasn't going to read it. Be forewarned: the third book is not out yet. You can cry with me. 

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

"It strikes Werner just then as wondrously futile to build splendid buildings, to make music, to sing songs, to print huge books full of colorful birds in the face of the seismic, engulfing indifference of the world - what pretensions humans have!"

Doerr's story of Parisian Marie-Laure and German orphan Werner during World War II is exquisite and masterful and heartbreaking. The structure of the novel - jumping back and forth through time and from the perspectives of three different characters - had me applauding Doerr's skill (and wishing I had a little of it) while I read. The suspense of a particular moment, carried across chapters where we learn bits and pieces of the past, was perfection. And his portrayal of the ultimate tragedy of war took my breath away. If it weren't so painful, I'd read the book again just for it's beauty.

*Listened on Audible.com

p.s. You can check out my other book reports here. 

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