The Time Traveler’s Wife

img_0097Book: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Date Read: July 27 to August 7, 2021

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

Generally speaking, I tend to lean toward books that are on the shorter end of the spectrum. Not that I avoid longer books altogether, but I find myself satisfied with books staying in the 300-400-something page range. These books feel like anytime books. Anything longer feels like a little more of an undertaking—something that should be taken on with some intention. So I was intentional about timing the “read a book over 500 pages” prompt, and my week of summer travel seemed like the perfect fit. I started this book on a plane on my way home from Denver, and then wrapped it up a couple days after arriving home from Nashville.

The story follows the lives of Clare and Henry, a couple dealing with some peculiar circumstances: Henry cannot stay put in time. Due to this, the story is told in snippets with some variations in chronology. While it mostly follows the traditional chronology of Clare’s life, there are flash-backs and forwards that fill in additional details. The author did well in varying how these were used, sometimes foreshadowing aspects of the story and other times circling back to give more context to things that had not been fully explained. Although I’m not really sure—does it count as foreshadowing when you know things are happening in the future?

I loved the concept of this book, and thought it was done well as a romance/science-fiction crossover. I am not sure that “science fiction” is the perfect classification, but feel the time travel aspect and the genetic studies piece was enough to at least set it on the edge of the genre. It is certainly not simply a traditional love story. In some ways, I debate in its classification as a love story at all—but in the end, I am not sure how else to classify it. The time travel aspect complicates it. While I feel like it is intended to add an element of sadness to Clare’s love, it also takes away the spontaneity and serendipity of a traditional love story. Clare knew she would marry Henry before she had even met him in her chronological life—if she had not been told that, would things have happened as they did? Henry’s attempts to change other events seems to indicate that her knowing did not matter, but I think the idea of everything being preset by fate takes a little magic out, flattening the story just a bit.

Boris’s Thoughts: “This is all a bit much, isn’t it? 1 paw.”

Born A Crime

img_9796Book: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Date Read: July 11 to 20, 2021

Rating: 5 (of 5) stars

I chose this book to fit the prompt to read a book that I was gifted, but did not ask for. I love this prompt, because those are my favorite types of books to be gifted. Sure, it’s nice to receive a book that you have been wanting, but I think it is nicer to receive a book that someone thought to pick out for you. This book was a gift from my Secret Santa—who I must say did a fabulous job.

Prior to this book, I did not know much about Trevor Noah. I knew the name as a personality on television, and probably would have associated him with the Daily Show. I am not much of a television watcher, and have only ever seen bits and pieces of anything associated with him. While I had occasionally seen the cover of the book, I am not sure that I had ever picked it up to truly consider it. I am so glad that this was gifted to me, because this one really blew me away.

This was a memoir of childhood, told through a series of short stories. While there was some continuity to the stories, they were not exactly chronological. The stories, although often dealing with some weighty content, are told with a perfect mix of seriousness and humor. Really, each story seems to be told for it’s retrospective humor, although the heaver themes of racism, apartheid, poverty, and love can be seen interwoven through each. That is—until the last chapter. Although some of this story had been alluded to earlier in the book, I was not quite prepared for the blow when it came. I will not share any spoiler details—it is something that I highly recommend you to experience for yourself.

I knew only a little of the history of South Africa before reading, and it was really interesting to learn about through the eyes of someone who experienced it as a child. Even the things I did know, I did not think of as current events, assuming that the pieces I knew came from long before my time—not something experienced by someone so close to my age.

Boris’s Thoughts: “Shame that it seems it’s only okay to have certain pets over there. Although he did have a point about peoples’ priorities when it comes to violence. 3 paws.”

Crenshaw

img_0425Book: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Date Read: August 8 to 12, 2021

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

This was my Unread Shelf Project pick for the month of August: a book bought from an independent bookstore. This was another category that was a little broad for me. For several years, I have been making a strong, pretty consistent effort to “shop local” as much as possible. It helps that I have a pretty phenomenal independent bookstore in my city. With a to read list as long as mine, it would be nearly impossible for me to determine the purchase location of all my books—but I would bet that 80% of those acquired in the past 5 years have been from independent bookstores. To make things easy though, I decided to pick from a specific collection: a book acquired from a store on my “Michigan Booksellers” tote bag (I cannot remember if I have written about this before, but have a post planned for the end of this month with more information!).

This qualifier narrowed my list down quite a bit, and I decided to pick the book that I thought would be a quick, light read. I was only half right there: quick, but definitely heavier than I had anticipated. This one definitely packs a punch. This is what I get for not revisiting the summary blurb on the back before making a decision.

Jackson is an interesting kid—a bit particular, a bit too old for his age. He is contrasted by Crenshaw, the large imaginary cat that he has not seen for several years. Jackson battles with himself over Crenshaw, while also trying to deal with some serious issues in his family: hunger, illness, and possible homelessness. There are many aspects of this book that I can praise. Jackson’s voice reads really well as a kid, albeit a kid who has had to grow up a little too fast. It is a well-written narrative that deals excellently with some really tough subject matter. Yet… I wanted something a little more from it.

I think where this fell short for me was with the character of Crenshaw. I kept hoping for something to happen with him, but for the most part, his role in the book was just to exist. While I can see that perhaps his mere existence being important is part of the point, I still think there was some missed potential for this story.

Boris’s Thoughts: “A giant imaginary cat might be nice, but not nearly as nice as a giant real cat like me. 3 paws.”

Unread Shelf Progress for August

  • Books Read: 4
  • Books Acquired: 2
  • Total Unread Books: 278