Ugh. I just can't seem to read lately. Well, I can read, but I can't get through a whole book and enjoy it. What is happening to me???
How To Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
Publisher: Other Press
Author: Sarah Bakewell
I got an electronic galley of this book from netGalley. If you love to read and aren't lucky enough to get review copies sent to you in the mail, netGalley is a fantastic way to access soon-to-be or recently published books.
I chose this one because I thought it sounded right up my alley. Here's the marketing blurb:
"How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love-such questions arise in most people's lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: how do you live? How do you do the good or honorable thing, while flourishing and feeling happy?
"This question obsessed Renaissance writers, none more than Michel Eyquem de Monatigne, perhaps the first truly modern individual. A nobleman, public official and wine-grower, he wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. He called them "essays," meaning "attempts" or "tries." Into them, he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog's ears twitched when it was dreaming, as well as the appalling events of the religious civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller and, over four hundred years later, Montaigne's honesty and charm still draw people to him. Readers come in search of companionship, wisdom and entertainment-and in search of themselves.
"This book, a spirited and singular biography, relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored. It traces his bizarre upbringing, youthful career and sexual adventures, his travels, and his friendships with the scholar and poet Étienne de La Boétie and with his adopted "daughter," Marie de Gournay. And we also meet his readers-who for centuries have found in Montaigne an inexhaustible source of answers to the haunting question, "how to live?"
Unfortunately, I seem not to have an alley at the moment, because although I have read 52 pages and can intellectually see how interesting this book should be, I'm just not enjoying it. Strike one.
Mr Peanut by Adam Ross.
Borrowed from my local public library.
Now this one, I at least got all the way through. I borrowed it on the strength of the blurb:
"David Pepin has been in love with his wife, Alice, since the moment they met in a university seminar on Alfred Hitchcock. after thirteen years of marriage, he still can't imagine a remotely happy life without her - yet he obsessively contemplates her demise. Soon she is dead, and David is both deeply distraught and the prime suspect.
"The detectives investigating Alice's suspicious death have plenty of personal experience with conjugal enigmas: Ward Hastroll was happily married until his wife inexplicably becomes voluntarily and militantly bedridden; and Sam Sheppard is especially sensitive to the intricacies of marital guilt and innocence, having decades before been convicted and then exonerated of the brutal murder of his wife.
"...complex, interlocking dramas are structurally and emotionally intense, subtle, and intriguing..."
I got to the end of this book more confused than when I started. Just what happened? What was the author trying to say? I think I need a university seminar to unlock the symbolism and themes of this book, not to mention someone to tell me exactly whether Alice was murdered or not! Am I right in thinking what I think happened??? Strike two.
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold.
Borrowed from my local public library.
I enjoyed The Lovely Bones and wanted to read something by the same author. That is what I based my decision on, rather than the blurb which I found somewhat disturbing:
"With fierce intelligence and emotional intensity, Alice Sebold brings us a searing portrait of a mother-daughter bond that descends into murder.
"Clair and Helen Knightly are a parent and child locked in a relationship so unrelenting that they have become the center of each other's worlds. But as this electrifying novel opens, Helen crosses a boundary she never thought she would approach. And while her act is almost unconcious, it somehow seems like the fulfillment of a lifetime's unspoken wishes..."
I should have gone with my gut. Twenty-six pages in and I can't take any more. Strike three.
I'm desperately needing some reading suggestions!