April Reviews

Last month was totally split- two books for work, two for pleasure. Two I enjoyed, two not so much. Can't win 'em all, I suppose. Let's see how many I get through this month [a winky smiley face would be inserted here if I believed in using emoticons on my blog].

Diary of a Bad Year by JM Coetzee
240 pages
This novel is about a man, Senor C, who is commissioned to write a series of free-choice essays and ends up hiring a young, attractive young woman, Anya, that lives in his building to help transcribe his tapes. He ends up falling for her (but not in a romantic sort of way... the dynamics are odd), while her boyfriend is scheming to steal his fortune so that it's not donated to charity when he dies. The book is split horizontally down each page, the top halves being the essays he's writing on anything from birds to Australian politics to philosophy. The bottom halves are the narratives, split between both Senor C and Anya.

Verdict: Everything I just said about this book sounds great- something different with the design, a combo of nonfiction/fiction, dysfunctional relationships... But, honestly, it just wasn't for me. I really struggled to get through some of the essays (maybe because some of it is Australian politics) and the interactions between Senor C and Anya were a tad boring. It's not a bad book, it just wasn't a good fit.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
322 pages
This was a definite reread for me, and I'm assuming most people are familiar with this classic, so I'll spare you the synopsis.

Verdict: I'm definitely a Twain fan, and this is a great book to teach. I taught it in terms of humor and satire to my AP lang sophomore students and then they will be looking at it from a more literary perspective after the test.

The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
192 pages
Same as above, another classic we're all familiar with.

Verdict: I'm so not a fan. I do love the movie Easy A, though, for what it's worth. My husband and I have decided to model our parenting techniques after Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson's characters.

[now let's all get that "Pocket Full of Sunshine" song stuck in our heads]

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Harnagarne
304 pages
I really enjoyed this memoir about Harnagarne's struggle with Tourette's, his Mormon faith, and life working in a library. Harnagarne's is charismatic, seemingly honest, funny, and never does he demand your sympathy. And, honestly, from the way he presents himself and his struggles, you don't necessary feel you want to give him any. He coped, and he did it well. The book follows him from childhood to the recent present, flipping back and forth between his experiences as a librarian.

Verdict: As I just say, I really enjoyed this book. It read more like a novel and I could absolutely identify with many elements, including the absolute love of reading, struggle with faith (not Mormonism, though), and the need to use exercise to calm inner struggles.

Total:  1,058 pages


  1. Love your reviews. Really like the look of the Strongest Librarian!


  2. Nice to hear you liked The World's Strongest Librarian. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting going in, but I thought his story & life were very interesting.

  3. I am so not a Scarlet Letter fan either...but definitely also an Easy A fan!

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  5. I loved Strongest Librarian and think it’s a great, meaningful, and fairly quick read. I haven’t read The Scarlet Letter in 15 years, but I don’t remember loving OR hating it.