Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recent Books

Do you go through phases? Yellow phases, productive phases, avocado-eating phases (if by phase I mean always)? Right now, I'm in a book-reading phases, or as much as I can be with an almost 1-year old and a job and training, which is actually really not that much at all, now that I think about it. But still. It's sadly way more than than I was reading earlier in the year, which is good enough for me.

Some recents:

I really really loved this book. It is some of the better fiction I've read in a while (which, judging by my previous comment, may not be saying all that much). The book is the journal of Sarah Prine, and chronicles her life starting when she's about 18 years old in the wild west. The love story (of course there is a love story - do you know me at all?) is so sweet, but not saccharine.

Sarah epitomizes everything I love in a heroine - she's smart but not snooty, tough but loving, strong but vulnerable, and oh so real. I loved some of her entries when she was about to get married to the love of her life because she goes back and forth between being completely smitten and confident in her love, and being annoyed and unsure. She's headstrong and that sometimes makes things slip off her tongue in ways they shouldn't, but that just endeared her to me all the more.

For those of you who have read it, the only issue I had with this book was near the end. Although I sobbed like a baby through the last 20 pages, it was just a little too predictable and a little too easy. Jack's death just seemed too obvious and contrived to me, even though I felt like my heart was braking when it actually happened.

The one other issue was that it was SUPER slow for the first 100 pages or so (lots of bam bam, shoot 'em up sort of action that was not my cup of tea), so I had a tough time getting into it. But once I did, hoo boy, I could not stop.

The next was this biography of Gordon B. Hinckley, who was the prophet and president of the Mormon Church until a few years ago. I've always loved President Hinckley, and have always felt a special affinity towards him. After reading this book, it was all the more clear to me how he had a way that made everyone feel close to him. Dan and I read this together, and we were simultaneously amazed by his work ethic coupled with a focus on what is most important.

Much as I love President Hinckley, though, this wasn't my favorite so far as biographies go. While Sheri Dew is a great writer, I don't think she's the best storyteller. She did an excellent job of chronicling his life, but it felt fairly repetitive at times (yes, I understand that he did a ridiculous amount of travel and that he was very tired EVERY time but that he continued on despite his fatigue EVERY time. thank you.), while not providing nearly enough detail in others (it mentions that the Family Proclamation was announced while he was President, but how did it come about? what were President Hinckley's feelings on the 2nd official declaration and the months and years leading up to it?).

I read the biography of Spencer W. Kimball, another prophet, several years ago, and I thought it did a much better job of helping the reader understand the progression of his thoughts and feelings and relationships. Instead, this one felt more like a "journal" than a "diary" (Went to Asia. Called as apostle. Spent long hours at the office. Spoke at many many firesides.). While I got to know what he did, I didn't feel like I really got to know him all that much more than before.

Anyone have any really excellent books they've read lately and would like to recommend?