Book Reviews October 2020

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. I LOVED this book…now I have to go back and re-read Olive Kitteridge, because I know I liked it but it’s been a long time. This book has inspired me to want to write again because of the format….at first I was puzzled, but when I caught on I loved it. The underlying theme is Olive, now aging. But the other chapters introduce new characters, folks who also live in Crosby, Maine. Sometimes they cross paths with Olive. Each character is a short story, in a way…but Strout does an amazing job of making it all one cohesive novel. What style. Rate: 4.8

The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy. This is the second in his series, following All The Pretty Horses. Yet another young man ventures alone, on horseback, into Mexico. This book was even more profound, which led to a sluggish, difficult read for me. Everything is filled with intense meaning, but this becomes the intent of the book, rather than story. Thus, all the things I enjoy in reading are missing. Also, I felt like this one had a lot more Spanish (untranslated), and I had to stop and look things up so often I got frustrated. For a sophisticated reader, especially one who speaks Spanish, this is likely a very enjoyable read. I struggled. For that reason it isn’t likely I will read the third in the series, where the two characters from each of the first two books, meet. Rate? It’s hard for me to rate…a gifted writer, no doubt about that, but readability for the lay person? Hmmm….How about an overall 3.0

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer. Overall I enjoyed this book, but there was something amiss as I read and I couldn’t put my finger on it until I finished the book…it felt like the author had a message and he wrote a book to deliver that message….as a result the “flow” was somewhat disrupted at times. I guess I like novels that just go….not in any specific direction. Or at least the reader doesn’t know it’s going in that direction. This is the story of Greta Wells, who lives in 1985 and after some depression is referred for electric-convulsive therapy. In the course of her therapy she goes back in time and slips into the lives of her “former” or “different” selves. Rate: 3.0

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. This one was recommended by Susan Rushton…and we often like the same books. But I did think that she was a more sophisticated reader than I am, and this book proves it. I just can’t get into something without a story! This was a few conversations, kind of about religion, kind of about life, and just to profound for me…I did finish it because it’s really short….so….on the how Robin feels about this book scale, it only gets a 2.0. 

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. It was different to read an Auschwitz book written by an author from Spain…a slightly different slant. This wasn’t a good time to read about the horrors of WWII, because in my own life the infringements of human rights are growing daily. That said…this book was just okay…it did give a very inside perspective and I believe it was quite accurate because this author did a great job researching.he met and interviewed the real person! She is still living and so, although fictionalized, this is her story. Rate: 3.5

Key for my personal rating system:

5.0 – A book I will never forget, will quote, will tell everyone I know they MUST read it.

4.0 – An excellent book, but doesn’t quite make the best books of all time list.

3.0 – A recommendation, good read, decently written

2.0 – Some redeeming qualities, I finished it, but I’m not likely to seek out more by the author

1.0 – Don’t waste your time.