Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BOOK REVIEW(S): Some of the books I read this summer...

One of my goals for my summer was to read the Hunger Games trilogy. I wasn’t expecting it to be heavy-lifting. The books are short and there are only three of them. (My other goal was to put a dent in the Harry Potter series. I’m halfway through book 4.) I wasn’t quite anticipating that I would be so engrossed I’d fly through them in three sittings. I took a little break after the first two because I had other things I needed to get done. I really wanted to finish though, so I picked up Mockingjay one evening after work and read straight through, breaking only for dinner. (No reading at the dinner table -- who made such a crazy rule anyway?)  Reading so intently gave me a pounding migraine, but still, I couldn’t stop. I finished around 11:00, nauseated and medicated, but triumphant. So, my review is this: Suzanne Collins can really tell a tale.

I think this is the best way to read these books – fast and furious. The action is straight-forward. The message is not subtle. The characters wear their hearts on their sleeves, and when they are confused, they let the reader know why they are confused. So the reader can get completely caught up in the action and the hyper-intense emotion. The books are fun. I can’t wait for the first movie.

Contrast this with another wonderful book I just finished. This one I read aloud with my daughter: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. Somehow I missed Jansson’s work all these years. I’d never heard of the Moomintroll books. I read reviews of The Summer Book that spoke of it being perfect and magical, etc. How could I pass that up?

The book is a series of vignettes following six-year-old Sophia and her ?eighty-something grandmother as they spend slow summer days in their island home in the Gulf of Finland. Sophia’s father is there, too, but his presence is much less felt. And Sophia’s mother, recently deceased, is noted only by her absence. Sophia is precocious at times and bratty at times. The grandmother is very wise and can be remarkably nimble, but sometimes her age catches up to her. The relationship between them is poignant. The landscape and seascape of the island is a necessary part of it all.

The book is absolutely gorgeous. Each vignette is beautifully nuanced. This is not a book that you want to fly through – and yet we did. A couple times we would finish a chapter and I would pause. My daughter would say, "Huh." in a tone that meant – "Well, that was interesting– don’t start asking me what I think. It’s summer and you’re not my English teacher." So I plowed on to the next chapter instead.

However, this is a book that definitely deserves a re-read.


  1. I haven't heard of the Summer Book before either but it sounds like the perfect summer read!

  2. I've been wandering about The Hunger Games Trilogy. They sound good. Maybe I can find time to read them!

  3. I feel like I'm the only person who hasn't read the Hunger Games trilogy.

  4. I haven't read The Hunger Games series yet but I hear all good things about it. I hope you enjoy the last few Harry Potter books. It's a fantastic series!

  5. What a great summer of reading you had! I haven't read Hunger Games as yet, but am rather keen to. I've only read the first Harry Potter (I'd always assumed I read it with my son when he became interested, but he's been resolutely disinterested for some reason), and I will be reading my first ever Tove Jansson book in December.