Recent Reads

Monday, July 07, 2014

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

This classic of minimalism and simplicity was our book club choice this month -- and only two of us made it to the meeting. I think I know why. Despite the many amazing insights of Walden, it is a pretty dense book, and it takes some motivation to get through some of the detailed descriptions of the depth of the lake, the idiosyncrasies of the animals in the surrounding woods, etc. Still, I'm glad I finally read it, and it did cause me to think and learn some things.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

Abigail Adams by Woody Holton

I love Abigail Adams. I discovered her as a role model when reading John Adams by David McCullough, which is infinitely more readable than this tome that focuses on Abigail. I enjoyed all the details of her life, but at times the style was rather dry. I also listened to it on Audible, and I don't think an audiobook was the right format for a biography of this style. In addition, at times the author chose to view Abigail's actions exclusively through the lens of feminism. While I do think Abigail was ahead of her time in women's rights and did many amazing things for women, I don't think her every action was performed with that sole intention, as the author sometimes implied. Still, an interesting look into an interesting life.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

How She Does It by Anne Bogel

I love Ms. Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, and when I saw a post referencing this book and explaining Bogel's philosophy on women being able to manipulate the traditional work experience into something that works for motherhood, too, I was fascinated -- that is what I try to do everyday! I did find it encouraging, and found some good ideas; however, much of what was written wasn't relevant to me, because I can't work from home at this time. It also left me with the feeling that one can't be fulfilled if one is not working. This may very well be true for me, but I don't think it is true for everyone -- and I am planning on eventually seeing if I can be satisfied with stay-at-home-motherhood, once my working is not a necessity for my family. Still, an interesting read with a good perspective on working mothers.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

I am an Edith Wharton fangirl. The other two works that I have read by this author, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, captivated me and made me feel all the feelings. I had heard that The Custom of the Country was her masterpiece, and I had very high expectations for it. I won't say that those expectations were dashed, necessarily, but I did have a very different experience with Custom of the Country than I did with the other two Wharton books I have read. While neither of them could be classified as "happy endings," they left me satisfied, albeit sad. However, The Custom of the Country left me feeling somewhat dirty and weary. I think part of it is the fact that the main character, Undine, is so unlikable. I am not the type to discount a story because the heroine (or anti-heroine, as it were) is flawed. I love Gone With the Wind, the book I hear mentioned the most often for having an unlikable heroine. However, Undine is selfish, foolish, a home wrecker, a life-ruiner... I was so angry at her for most of the book, and so sad for the people whose lives she affected. I do think that Wharton's writing was incredible -- it certainly still made me feel the way her other books have -- but the things I was feeling were so miserable and frustrated that I couldn't enjoy her genius. I can't rate this book, because it is a masterpiece -- but I didn't enjoy it.

Warnings: Off the page adultery, dark thematic material (such as suicide)

1 comment:

  1. I so need to read The Custom of the Country. I love Wharton. :)


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