Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Year, New Books

Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffeneger
One of my favorite books is The Time Traveler's Wife, which was Audrey Niffeneger's first book. When I heard that her second novel was being released I was eager to get my hands on it, but I decided to show some restraint and not buy it until it came out in paperback. Imagine my surprise when I found not one but four copies of Her Fearful Symmetry on the shelf in the library! I really enjoyed it but it is a great departure from her debut novel. Her Fearful Symmetry tells the story of twins Julia and Valentina. When their aunt (their mother's estranged twin sister) dies, she leaves them her apartment in London, but only on the condition that their mother never sets foot inside. The book turns out to be a dark, twisted, Victorian story in the best sense. Although I found parts of the ending a little farfetched, I enjoyed the plot twists and the quirky characters, especially the poignant story of Martin, the compulsive agoraphobic upstairs neighbor. I hope your library has four copies as well!

The Checklist Manifesto, Atwul Gawande
This book was recommended on the Freakonomics blog (I think) so I decided to check it out. The author, a surgeon, explores how simple checklists at critical points can have dramatic effects on the outcome of complex processes. Although it dragged at times, overall I found it fascinating. All my pilot friends will definitely enjoy the discussion of how aviation embraced checklists and how new ones are developed and tested.

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Vampires are pretty much the hottest undead creatures out there these days so it's no surprise that The Historian has been at the top of the bestseller list for months. That said, I haven't been swept up in the vampire craze and didn't really understand the fuss about this book. Finally I gave in and picked it up at the library. I think it is a cross between The DaVinci Code and Dracula. It was definitely a page turner and kept me engrossed, but to be honest I enjoyed the historical lesson as much as the vampire story. It's told as a story within a story which was confusing at times but also allows the many threads to wrap up with increasing speed as it progresses. This was a fun read but a long one.


Audrey said...

I read The Historian a couple of years ago, and I think I enjoyed the History parts MORE than the Vampire parts!

I'll definitely pick up Her Fearful Symmetry. I didn't even know Audrey Niffenegger had another book!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for posting your reviews, I refer back to them when I'm looking for something new. I'll also be looking for Her Fearful Symmetry now!