I got a Kindle Fire HD for Christmas this year and I can't put it down! I bring it everywhere with me and seriously love the convenience of being able to read anywhere - in line at the grocery store, during my lunch break at work, while traveling, etc. I've read five books since Christmas and am in the middle of two more currently. Here are my reviews so far:
The Round House (Louise Erdrich): A number of people had recommended this book to me and I finally had a chance to read it. This is a riveting and meaningful story about Native American culture on a reservation in North Dakota during the 1980s. A Native American woman was attacked, and the family is faced with numerous legal obstacles while attempting to seek justice. This is a story about many things: the challenges Native Americans have dealt with throughout history and continue to face, the consequences of shortfalls in the legal system, a woman's path to healing after a violent attack, the coming of age of a 13-year-old Native American boy, and the meaning of forgiveness. This was a moving story and I could also relate to some of the Midwest references.
Rating: 4.5 stars
The Magic Room (Jeffrey Zaslow): This is the non-fictional depiction of a family-owned wedding dress store in Michigan and the unique experiences of a few of its customers. It's a touching story and describes the journey brides take in planning their weddings, involvement of their families and relationships between brides and their mothers or grandmothers, and observations of the concept of marriage and how it has changed throughout generations. However, I was annoyed by some of the overly-conservative values of a few of the brides and the repetitiveness of the book. I thought to myself how much the writing reminded me of The Girls from Ames, and it wasn't until I finished the book that I realized it was the same author. I also learned that apparently Zaslow, who also authored The Last Lecture, was killed in a car accident while touring for this book.
Rating: 2 stars
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls (David Sedaris): This was a witty and entertaining read. Through a series of humorous short stories, Sedaris describes everything from bird taxidermy and the French healthcare system to his father's criticism of his swimming abilities and the world's response to the presidential election. I appreciate Sedaris' intelligent humor, not exactly laugh-out-loud at all times, but the kind that makes you smile and appreciate the way he describes human nature so accurately and hilariously. I enjoyed it so much that I have already started another one of his books, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.
Rating: 4 stars
The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert): I fell in love with Elizabeth Gilbert's writing first in Eat, Pray, Love, then even more so with Committed, but this current book was by far my favorite. This is a multi-faceted story of Alma Whittaker, a hard-working and adventurous daughter of an enterprising and passionate botanist in Philadelphia in the early 19th century. Alma is extremely intelligent and can converse effortlessly with notable political figures, scientists, and academics from a very young age. She grows to become a successful and dedicated botanist herself, studying the growth of mosses on her family's large estate over several decades, through which she makes observations and discoveries about the nature of evolution and ponders the existence of the divine. The book is really many stories in one. Gilbert takes the reader from London to the beaches of Tahiti, to the growing city of Philadelphia in the newly established United States of America, finally to Amsterdam as Darwin is publishing his theories. I became so immersed in this book from start to finish, and wanted to re-read it again as soon as I reached the last page.
Rating: 5 stars
The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls):
In this moving and astonishing story, Walls describes her poverty-stricken childhood with an alcoholic father who refuses to conform and maintains a strong distrust for unions, institutions, and law enforcement, who "does the skedadle" every time a situation gets sticky, and a mother who can't stand the thought of getting a job and is "addicted to adventure." Walls and her siblings moved around the Southwest and finally relocated to West Virginia, where they lived in a shack on a hill with no running water and inconsistent electricity, often going days without food and weeks without bathing. Throughout her childhood Walls never lost faith in her father, despite his repeated failures and constant squandering of funds on cigarettes, booze and gambling. Walls and her siblings eventually make it to New York City to create new lives for themselves, and her father never builds the glass castle that he always promised his family.
Rating: 4.5 stars
I downloaded a few more books on my Kindle to hold me over for the next few weeks and our upcoming trip to Ecuador:
The Bloodletter's Daughter (Linda Lafferty) - currently reading
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris) - currently reading
A Long Walk to Water (Linda Sue Park)
She Only Wore White (Dorthe Binkert)
And the Mountains Echoed (Khaled Hosseini)
Walden (Henry David Thoreau)
Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese)
Fortune's Rocks (Anita Shreve)
The Color of Heaven (Julianne Maclean)
The Hundred-Foot Journey (Richard C. Morais)
The Longest Date: Life as a Wife (Cindy Chupack)