Madeline's Orange 2011
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I'm going to use this thread to track any Orange books (winners or long-listers) that I read in 2011. I'll set a goal of five of these, but am not sure I'll make it. I honestly must say I'm ever the skeptic because I tend to avoid books by women rather than read them.
Go ahead, though. Recommend some good ones to me and make me change my mind. I'll try to get an Orange book in my list at least for January and July. Jill has been excellent in tempting me to do this is the past. I predict that her influence will continue to affect my reading!
Thanks for starting this group, Jill. Great idea!
ETA: No pun intended!
Secret Son - Laila Lalami
Prep - Curtis Sittenfield
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
When the Emperor was Divine - Julie Otsuka
The Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan
Black and Blue - Anna Quindlen
I can honestly say that these books are not my favorite reads, but they are good enough to recommend. Of all of them, I liked Prep the best because it seemed so real. I had my daughter also read that book and she concurred with my evaluation of it.
ETA: I *loved* The Flying Troutmans. What a great book!! It restored my faith in the Orange prize. ;)
I'm curious what it is (or isn't) about women writers that you dislike. On your list above, there are a few I've read and only one I thought excellent (the Otsuka).
Let's see, I predict you'd like:
A History of Love
The Night Watch
Half of a Yellow Sun
It will be interesting to see if we can cast an Orange spell on you! :o)
A History of Love was good, but thoroughly confusing!! It's a good story, but quite a chore to read. I had the characters so confused that I had to stop and write them all down and how they related to one another. No I have another Krauss book (Great House) that Terri kindly sent to me. I hope that one's easier to read!
I have Half of a Yellow Sun here at home but never get to reading it because it's too thick! :)
I'll keep an eye out for the other two you mentioned, Joyce. Thanks!
I can't pinpoint exactly what it is I dislike about women authors. I know what I like about male writers. They tend to have a more dry sense of humor and are more cynical in their outlook. Women tend to gush more emotion. Women also tend to be flowery in their descriptions while men tend to be more symbolic and/or surreal in their writing.
Before you bash my preference of writing by men, I do realize that this is a vast generalization. I can be more specific when it comes to individual authors. Scan my liist of favorited authors and you'll see the kind of writing I most prefer.
By the way, I love Barbara Kingsolver's writing when she does her essays. They're fabulous!!
Well then you have to read Margaret Atwood! Her sense of humour is Sahara-dry! And she's delightfully cynical. And brilliant, too!
I *despised* Bel Canto, Joyce. That had to be one of the most boooooooring books I've ever read. I'll never know, to this day, why I forced myself to finish reading it. Oh, yeah. I read it through to the end because it was prize winner. Poor choice on my part. Spare me from any more books such as this one. Pulllll-eeeeze!!
I do have these books you mentioned here at home:
The Poisonwood Bible
I just haven't gotten to them yet.
By the way, I love Barbara Kingsolver's non-fiction writing (especially her essays).
I'll be sure to read The Lacuna at some point. I had the CD out of the library, but it was due back (no renewal) after I only had gotten into a few pages.
See, that's why you have to list the books you didn't like beside the ones you did like. There's as much to be learned there, right? Anyway, I liked but didn't love Bel Canto, but I suggested it only because it's popular with a lot of readers. For me, it was sort of like Half a Yellow Sun. I liked it well enough, but others rave about it.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (...although other works by this author are great. Try her short stories!)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (preferred not to finish)
Sorry by Gail Jones
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
In all fairness to Gilead, I started by listening to it on audio, and it was putting me to sleep during my commutes to and from work. Perhaps I should read the actual book itself. Others have told me how much they liked it. I might just give it another chance (but not any time soon!)
I'd hate to see your gasoline bill! :)
I agree with you about Gilead - great sleeping aid, as I started to doze off everytime I picked it up. A tremendous ugh from me on that one.
I didn't like Miriam Toews first book very much - A Complicated Kindness, so haven't read The Flying Troutsmen based on the other book.
Although Half of a Yellow Sun was large, it read much shorter. That is, I really liked it and raced through it.
What about The Lizard Cage? That was my favorite book of the year a few years ago. Truly amazing.
Madeline, I am glad you're here and giving some Orange books a try. There's absolutely nothing wrong with have preferences toward male or female writers. There's enough quality writing to go around!
So my initial thoughts:
1) I would recommend The Lacuna over The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver for you.
2) You may like Fugitive Pieces if you can get into the book's writing style. (Get it from the library!) =)
3) You may want to check out The Girls by Lori Lansens. I think the nurse in you would like it.
4) Have you read We Need To Talk about Kevin? At the risk of categorizing, I found Shriver's writing style to be very male (as you describe it in your earlier thread).
5) Depending on how you can handle books related to George W. Bush, I thought American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld was a really good book - loosely based on Laura Bush's life.
I'll probably think of some more, but that's enough for more dialogue, I think! =)
Nice to meet you, too!
It'll be a while before I try Gilead again (if I do), although I'm sorry to hear about A Complicated Kindness. That's a book I actually have here at home. I bought it after enjoying The Flying Troutmans so much. Oh, well.
Never hear of The LIzard Cage before, but it does sound good. I'm adding it to my wishlist. Thanks for the suggestion.
I have Fugitive Pieces here at home and might give it a try if I can find it.
I read The Girls and liked that. It was your review of it that led me to read that book in the first place, Jill! I read the review you posted to your blog just after you read it.
I started We Need to Talk about Kevin, did not like it (found it boring), and couldn't finish it. My daughter considers that book one of her all-time favorites. Go figure!
I have American Wife here at home but am not sure I'm in the mood to read that. Sometimes, here in DC, I need to get a break from anything related to the White House!
Sorry, Jill! :)
It'll be interesting to see what I do come up with...and if my choice will find favor with me or not. I'm not going to start reading an "Orange" book until January anyway probably.
I haven't read the Troutmans, but I LOVED Complicated Kindness.
But that is just my take. To each, their own. That is what LT such as great place! :-)
Why? Just because I'm not crazy about most "Orange" books? :)
I'll keep The Idea of Perfection on the back burner. The write-up of it doesn't seem all that interesting, although I know that the book was highly touted by those who've read it.
By the way, Jill, is there any place other than here on LT that we are supposed to be posting our "Orange" reads?
I enjoy British Crime but couldn't take to Fingersmith at all. I am trying The Help this year will see if it lives up to it's hype
Madeline, Jill started this group so we'd have one central place to list and talk about our Orange books. We were all over the map before - Girlybooks, 75ers, and some others too.
I haven't posted my thread here yet but wanted to recommend one that I listened to this year and loved, When we were bad, it's a black comedy about a Jewish family, a fairly refreshing bunch of dysfunctional adults. The mother is a successful and high profile rabbi, the father is an unsuccessful writer, and their four adult children leave much to be desired.
Hope you like it.
Thanks for that information, Kerri.
I like how A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is written as it's an extremely engaging read. What I could not understand before was why the author was trying to create a humorous story yet portray the horrifying condition of elder abuse throughout the book. Some of the scenes in this book mortified me (the wet towel incident, especially).
It's interesting. I've tried in two places now on LibraryThing to push others into talking about books that discuss the theme of aging. In neither place did I have any takers.
I find it very interesting to see how elderly individuals are portrayed generally in books. In A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Nikolai is eight-four years old. He's probably one of the older individuals who is a main character in books I've read. This book seems all to realistic for me. Elderly individuals are usually set in their ways. They have incredible knowledge which they've had a lifetime to accumulate.
As for the younger Valentina, she seems realistic as well. I only know of one young person of Ukrainian origin, but I've been acquainted with quite a few people of the former Soviet Union. The ones I've known (both from here and while I was living in Israel) were intelligent, proud of who they were and their accomplishments, and of of the opinion that they needed to get ahead in American (or Israeli) society. They also felt that they were being thwarted in their efforts. They (as a sterotypical whole) were friendly, unafraid to use others (I personally have been in more than one such situation) to get what they want and were rather (shall we say) "pushy". I am not saying this to be bigoted but rather to say that the story in this book seemed too true to me.
If anyone who reads this book has or has had aging parents, they are sure to recognize some "elderly traits" in the character of Nikolai as well. Resistance to change is way up on that list.
This book is extremely well done. I appreciate it more now that I understand why it was written this way. I'll certainly look for more of Lewycki's books.
I still have a few chapters to go yet, but I'll concede that this book was a worthwhile Orange Prize nominee.
Glad you found an Orange book you've enjoyed - and thanks for participating in Orange January! =)
I hope you have some awesome picks for Orange July. Looks like I will be starting a couple of days early. Can't wait. I have always joined in the reading but never had an ORANGE thread so I think I will be able to have some fun with it.
I usually try to avoid the "Oranges". Since July's coming, I might have to break down and pick one. So far, my reading has been really slow and boring this month. I keep hopping from book to book, hoping to finish at least one of my current *seven* (non-Orange) books! Yikes!!
I'm reading another "snoozer" now. I don't think I could handle two of those in a row. My current read, not an Orange book, is Saturday by Ian McEwan.
Thanks, Lori. I hope I get to fit my book in as I've been doing a lot of "book-hopping" lately!
Laura, I'm being like a kid in a candy shop. I can't seem to stop looking at different books while I'm in the middle of others. This has gotten a bit ridiculous now. I "accidentally" browsed the insides of a 500+ paperback yesterday to find that I now want to skip all the other books I'm currently reading and read that one instead. No wonder I never seem to get my ER books finished. :/
Donna, I just have to see if I can get to it first. I don't like to overload the TIOLI challenge list (I already finished my first one for July, though!). I just started the 500+ page A Fraction of the Whole which is a very good book - albeit non-TIOLI. I'm simply trying to read too many books at once. :(
I did finish Great House, liked it a lot, and posted a review of it here on LT. Jill will be proud that I found another Orange book that I like. Hey! That's two in one year. :)
I mostly read the book because the CD had multiple readers. Some were harder for me to understand than others.
What I find about Krauss' books is that they're well written but tend to be confusing because of all of the different characters who enter and exit the story at long intervals. I found this book less difficult to follow than The History of Love, though. Krauss' writing is lovely!
I was sad at the end of Great House that I didn't get to find out more about Daniel Varsky. He seemed like such an interesting character.
big, warm hug,
The irony of the above comment is that I only read that book in July of 2010, and the topic of the book was about a man who lost his memory. I didn't even remember reading it as I looked it up here on LT to see if I still owned a copy of it. Yikes!! I'm glad to say that Krauss' writing is improving greatly with each new book.
*rushes off do some sudoku in an attempt to improve her memory*
Man walks into a bar............
(nuff said? No?...okay)
and says, "Give me a beer before problems start!" Again, the man orders a beer saying, "Give me a beer before problems start!" The bartender looks confused. This goes on for a while, and after the fifth beer the bartender is totally confused and asks the man, "When are you going to pay for these beers?" The man answers, "Ah, now the problems start!"
See what I mean? LOL!~! But the sudoku is great anyway.
ETA: I tried to put into words what I disliked so much about this book here in my review.
I'll be glad when I've read my final two Orange books. This prize and I don't do too well together. Sorry, Jill! :)
I've been working on this for three years now. I never did much like the Orange Books. :)
I quit reading The Help. I got bored with it.