Book Review from Pandemic Reading

The week before we were getting clues that society was going to shut down for an undetermined time, my husband and I went to the local public library. We both got out a stack of books. Today, I’ll share my thoughts on what I read so far.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, (1986).

This is a dystopian novel of epic proportions. Had I known what I was getting myself into, I would have left it on the shelf! Wow! All I can say is despite not being a fan of dystopian novels, this one held my interest like glue!  It was not the plot itself, although that was disturbing in itself. But, it was the trails of the unknown the author weaves into this tale. Why the society is what it is, where the main character’s husband and child are, and exactly how the females chosen to be handmaidens are determined are all left to the reader’s imagination. Although at times, she tells us that she’s wondering the same things we are. Women as baby machines, a new caste type system to society, and public hangings all give the impression of being thrown back in time, not forward to an evolved community.

I could not wrap my head around this story, as much as I tried. And, the end was unsatisfying for me. I understand this novel was made into a movie. And, I understand the movie caused quite an uproar. But, if I even chose to see the movie,  I know I’ll be glad I read the book first.

Reading for me, for pleasure, usually takes place at night for a few minutes before I go to sleep. It relaxes me and gets my mind off of any issues that might be bothering me.  But, I know when a book has got my attention because I make time to read during the day – even if it is only a few pages. I read The Handmaid’s Tale during the day, as well as during the night, finishing it in near-record time for my usual leisurely reading pace. I can recommend it but you might not like it.

2. The Rope by Nevada Barr, (2011).

When I picked this book up at the library, the attraction I had for it was that it was a mystery written with a female park ranger as its central character. Since I’ve essentially been educated to be a park ranger, this story interested me. I enjoyed this story that seemed to have three different climaxes. I thought I had “the bad guy” pegged in the first part of the book, but was a little off base. In a nutshell, this was an enjoyable read that was not too draining (a welcome reprieve after The Handmaid’s Tale).

In addition, I took some time out of my day to read The Rope. Again, this is always a sign that I am enjoying the story. Barr writes well and I will look forward to reading another one of her “Anna Pigeon” novels. Pigeon is the seasonal park ranger/interpreter featured in these mysteries. She is a sympathetic and likable character.

3. The Fix by David Baldacci (2018).

I want to preface what I write here by saying that I have read several books by David Baldacci and enjoyed them. However, “The Fix” was not one of them. I picked up this book after my husband had finished it. I bought it for him to have something to read when we traveled to Santa Fe in February.  The story did not hold my attention and therefore, I would skip days without reading it. I also did not pick up the novel during the day to read. It was a few pages at night, at the most. Therefore, it took quite a while for me to read this nearly 500-page story.

It was okay. And, for some reason, I felt compelled to finish it. All I felt was a relief when I closed the cover for the last time. The story seemed to drag and kept circling back over the circumstances of the crimes. It will be a while before I return to this author.

Kindle Books

In addition to the library, I purchased and/or downloaded a few books for my phone’s Kindle App. One is called The Social Skills Guidebook by Chris McLeod, 2016.  I am only about 20% done with this book, Some of the chapters only got a quick scan from me. But, when I need to turn away from fiction, I am going to continue reading this book on handling anxiety, believing in one’s self, and managing conversations.

There are also a couple other books I downloaded to tease me into reading them when I have the time and interest. One is called Overthinking by Ashley Hill (2019) and the other is the first book in a mystery series called Winter Black by Mary Stone called Winter’s Mourn (2019).

I am not more than 5% into either of these books, so the jury is still out.

Next Read: Citizens of London by Lynne Olson, 2010

When discussing a college application essay with my son, he disclosed to me that he had used a quote from Winston Churchill in his submission.  Or rather, that the quote had given him an idea of what to write about for his essay. It was then that I remembered I wanted to read Citizens of London. We have a copy of this book. Several years ago, I had bought it for my husband when he said he thought it would be interesting to read and learn more about Churchill. I know he enjoyed the book. I hope to, as well!

What have you been reading?




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