February Reviews

[Finally! Rain in SoCal!]

This past month has been really, really busy, especially in regards to work, so I barely managed to squeak in four books:

A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycha
304 pages
 I read this for a virtual book club and ended up enjoying it, despite some of the flaws it had with trying to intermix family history and a book being written on tractors into the actual prose (I thought it was not quite seamlessly done). The story, about two sisters' mission to stop their elderly father from being involved with a woman using him to get her citizenship, is touching, hilarious, and a bit ridiculous (but in a good way).

Verdict: I think if you can look past the flaws, as I did, this is a pretty interesting, entertaining read.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
304 pages
This well-hyped book from last year fell a little flat for me; the first 2/3 of the story was decent and original, but the end was too much stereotypical romantic comedy and fell in line way too neatly. The premise, a socially-stunted man from Australia who decides to embark on a project driven by logic and statistics to find a wife, all the while not seeming to understand that he has Aspergers, is quirky and interesting. He ends up working with a young woman to help her find her biological father, and an odd sort of relationship develops.

Verdict: This is a perfect beach read- keep it my mind for boozy afternoons by the pool when you're less apt to criticize endings.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
209 pages
I read this, finally, for work and really enjoyed the story of Okonkwo's quest to be nothing like his father while struggling with familial and tribal matters. The historical aspect, the arrival of the white missionaries in Africa, is also central to the text and has made for interesting discussion with my students. They initially didn't love it, since the names are really difficult (and apparently that can make or break a book for a seventeen-year-old), but they're coming around.

Verdict: I think for those of us who consider ourselves literary we should probably read it, as it did put Africa on the map, literature-wise.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
389 pages  
I received the trilogy for Christmas and just finished this one up- I loved it. I'm not one generally for sci-fi or dystopias, but Atwood is a talented enough writer to bring me over at least temporarily. This non-linear story is set in the future where most of the population has been wiped out by a disease; Snowman, or Jimmy, is alone, trying to manage the Children of Crake and Oryx (genetically modified people and animals) while coming to terms with his past.

Verdict: Like I said, this is not linear, and I know that bothers many. There's also a lot of inferences to be made, as well as a cliffhanger ending. Nonetheless, I thought it was fantastic. 

1206 pages
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Or see the geographical locations on Zee Maps (although I'm not really sure where to put Oryx and Crake...)


  1. That Zee Maps thing is COOL!

  2. I really want to read Atwood's trilogy it sounds like a great read. I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed it.

  3. I read Things Fall Apart in high school remember not liking it. I am convinced a lot of it was lost on my 15 year old self though since I read it sophomore year, and am not sure I should hold too closely to that opinion. I think it might be a good one to revisit as an adult though. Especially since I don't remember it being that short!

  4. I haven't read Things Fall Apart in ages, but I've still read it (I have a life list of literature that I'm working through).

    The Rosie Project was cute, but it pushed some of my buttons.

  5. I've never read anything by Atwood, but I feel like I should. Everyone I talk to who has read her, and I'm talking about vastly different people here, rave about her. Plus, dystopias are totally my thang.