Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Reading, Books 34-36

34) The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle

Using recent high-profile examples like the sub-prime mortgage crisis, along with personal anecdotes of dating relationships gone sour and the time a hospital almost misdiagnosed her mother's appendicitis, McArdle looks at failure with a view to convincing readers that being forgiving and flexible--of themselves and others--is the best way to cope. I liked it, but I was hoping for a little bit more of a self-help focus. You know, "Feeling like a failure in Area X of your life? Here's 10 questions you should ask yourself."

35) 101 Reasons to be Episcopalian by Louie Crew.

This very quick little book was a gift from our rector to everyone who was confirmed in the Episcopal Church when our bishop visited in December. Reading it A) made me regret skipping church this morning and B) reminded me why I made the right decision to become Episcopalian instead of leaving the church altogether or continuing to force myself to stay in a more conservative denomination that was no longer a good fit.

36) The Blythes are Quoted by LM Montgomery.

I still haven't decided whether I'm glad or sorry I read this book. It's the very final work of LM Montgomery, turned into her publisher on the day she died in 1942 (quite possibly suicide). This is the manuscript essentially as submitted, with very little editing, and while it wasn't badly written, it didn't have the sparkle and polish of the rest of her work that I've read. It's mostly short stories, none of them about the Blythe family, though they're regularly mentioned, usually with praise as just about the best-looking, most intelligent, and wisest people around. (Which got a little annoying, because it didn't feel natural.) Interspersed with the stories are poems, purportedly by Anne and Walter, with comments and reflections from the family, in which we see the family continue to mourn Walter and become more cynical about WWI. Just as I always calculated when reading Rilla of Ingleside, Anne and Gilbert's grandchildren are just the right age to fight WWII, and we learn that Faith and Jem's sons have joined, that Ken and Rilla's son is in the RCAF, etc.

I think I would've been more interested if this had been a novel about the Blythes instead of a bunch of short stories about people I didn't have a prior attachment to. I tend to be less of a fan of short stories for just that reason--you don't have time to really know and become attached to the characters, so they're usually more about an idea or a plot gimmick than people. Also, it's one thing to realize myself that the Blythe grandchildren will have to fight WWII. It's another thing to see it on the page, somehow.

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