An Open Book: What I Read in December

The end of the year is always a bit crazy, but that didn’t keep me from my nightly reading. Happy New Year, everyone!

123115 - Girl Who Played with FireThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Three-live review: This multi-tiered, complicated thriller is the second book in the Millennium Series and is just as intense as its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In this book, Lisbeth Salander is tangled in a murder mystery that involves the sex trafficking industry in Sweden, a deep-seeded industry tucked away by the country’s government that is about to be revealed by a researcher and author commissioned by Millennium Magazine, where Mikael Blomkvist works. Once again, Larsson manages to delicately juggle several intertwined story lines while developing robust characters, engaging dialogue and intrigue that kept my interest to the very last sentence.

I listened to the audio version of this book so was unable to mark my favorite passages.

123115 - Curious IncidentThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Three-line review: Many readers harshly criticized this book told from the viewpoint of an autistic boy, but I was completely engrossed in the novel and read the whole thing in just a couple days. The story follows the boy’s attempt to solve the mystery of a murdered dog and what ensues after he finds out who the killer is, and while the mystery is not the main point of the story, the underlying attempt to imagine the scenario from his viewpoint is fascinating. I found myself feeling concerned and anxious for the main character, and even flipped to the end of the book early just to find out how everything would wrap up (something I rarely do).

Favorite lines:

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.

The Little GardenerThe Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Three-line review: This picture book is about an itty-bitty gardener who has problems getting his garden to grow, which affects his health and happiness. Luckily, some larger-than-life creatures (read: humans) help him tend to the foliage, and everything is better by the end of the book. The story line is a bit weak, but I love the bold illustrations, and I’m especially fond of the gardener’s pet worm.
MatchlessMatchless by Gregory Maguire

Three-line review: In this retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic, The Little Match Girl, a little boy escapes his miserable life by creating an idyllic village made of garbage in his family’s attic. The little match girl and boys’ lives become inextricably linked when she dies in the cold and her family becomes his, all hinging on one small match that can provide heat and light in an otherwise long and chilly existence. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of Gregory Maguire, and though I enjoyed the illustrations in this three-part, readable book, I was not a big fan of the text.

Sidewalk FlowersSidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Three-line review: This wordless picture book is one of the best I’ve “read” this year. With splashes of color amid the black-and-white frames, this story follows a walk taken by a little girl and her father. As they walk, he chats on his cell phone, and she spots flowers growing in random places in the city, which she picks up and then leaves behind as a symbol of happiness, simplicity and peace in an otherwise hurried world.

Magical ThinkingMagical Thinking: True Stories by Augusten Burroughs

Three-line review: Magical Thinking is a series of short autobiographical stories about sex, employment, travel and life in New York City from the award-winning author of Running with Scissors. This was the first time I’d read anything by Burroughs, and I can’t decide if he is clinically insane or legitimately brilliant. I laughed out loud, I rolled my eyes, I read passages to my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even while I felt like maybe I shouldn’t.

Favorite lines:

In my world there were boys and there were girls and that was it. And here’s this girl who used to be a boy. My whole idea of what was possible in life expanded.

He lived remarkably in the moment, laughed easily. Being with him was like putting your mouth on the lip of a juicer dish while the oranges were being mashed.

That’s exactly what I would do if I were Amish. I’ve been through Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and I can tell you, it’s the perfect place to live off the land and avoid zippers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *