Fall (in-love) Reading

This fall I read two books about falling in love. Both had some good meat on the bones of the romance, which made them enjoyable not only as romances but as stories of their time. 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 

Our protagonist Don is a Australian genetics professor with a side project: find his ideal wife. He crafts an elaborate survey to help him, and the results are comical. He also volunteers to help Rosie with her own project: uncovering the identity of her biological father. Two projects soon become one and the same. I enjoyed reading this book, which was very popular a few years back. I had tried to read it at the height of its popularity, but put it down due to language and sexual themes. I picked it back up again and enjoyed the story. It is a well paced book with laugh-out-loud moments and quiet memorable moments, too. The characters grow in some inspiring ways, and I won't soon forget our main cast. I'm interested to watch the movie, which hasn't been made yet, but is in talks. 

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes 

I read this book about a horseback library program in Depression-era Kentucky for book club. Our main character, Alice, has married for love AND money, only to find that neither one is worth having to put up with her insufferable father-in-law. She escapes by volunteering to take books to country folk over the hills, and makes friends and finds true love along the way. This book was expertly plotted. I particularly liked how the prologue set the readers expectation for the book. In the flow of the larger narrative, coming back to the prologue rather than having that chapter set in the middle of the book is ingenious. The characters are memorable, well developed, and varied. The book wraps up in a satisfactory way, but one or two questions that the author leaves for readers to answer made for a lively book club discussion.

Just for fun, here's a photo of me and my true love. 

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson 

This book came out in 2013, so I think we owned a signed hardback copy for 8 years before I finally read it. Brandon Sanderson's YA Reckoners series is my favorite of his books, so when 13-year-old Benjamin was rolling his eyes at me for never having read The Rithmatist (also for the YA market), I decided to get my act together. I enjoyed it. It was entertaining, and eventually pretty suspenseful. 

The Rithmatist is the story of our protagonist, Joel, who lives in a steampunk world where the USA is a collection of islands and some people can make chalk pictures come to life.  Joel is spending all his time wishing he had been chosen as one of these special people -- he wants to be a Rithmatist. Pretty soon, however, young Rithmatists start disappearing, apparently attacked by one of their own, a mysterious Rithmatist. Joel inserts himself into the investigation and his summer that looked boring at the outset gets very busy indeed. 

Sanderson did a nice job with this book -- solid characters with various motivations and complex backgrounds, a plot with increasing complexity and pacing that starts slow and speeds up by degrees until you're up late because you can't put it down. I really liked how Joel and Melody's friendship developed, and found it realistic and just a lot of fun to see them go from nothing to having inside jokes. There is some violence in the book: it's a mystery about the disappearance (kidnapping? murder?) of high schoolers. I felt like Sanderson kept it solidly PG-13. Ben McSweeney's illustrations definitely added to the book and made it work. All the chalk pictures and the occasional spot art were anchors for me when otherwise I would have been lost, thinking about this magic system.

Jacob warned me when I was starting it that "Brandon says he regrets setting it up for a sequel" because other books and projects have since filled his time. So I knew going in that it would have some unresolved threads at the end of the book. Knowing that was enough for me, and I'm satisfied with the ending. 

I did sometimes feel the book was a little repetitive. Sanderson really wanted to make sure you knew what was going on. Occasionally I felt the writing condescended a little bit, for the sake of clarity. Like, the bad guy reveals himself and then Joel thinks, in a separate sentence, 'he has to be stopped.' That sort of thing.  That said, I didn't really mind because I was reading it for the entertainment and the enjoyment of the story and the story was, indeed, always clear. 

I'm glad I read this one, and only sorry I waited so long to read it! Recommended.
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