Water for Elephants

I recently finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, a quick and interesting read about a train circus in 1930s America. I'm captivated by the little glimpses into depression-era circus life: The heirarchy of the roustabouts and performers, the presence of liquor amidst prohibition, the disturbing treatment of the menagerie, the cooch tent, the practice of redlighting, etc... Sara Gruen covered many bases, and she developed a good portion of the plot around actual incidents that happened across several historical American circuses. There are also period photographs peppered throughout the book, which adds to its nostalgic charm.

In addition to drawing me in from a historical perspective, Water for Elephants had a tendency to tug on my heartstrings. It touched on aging, mortality, familial relationships, cruelty, and loneliness in ways that managed to knock me on my ass repeatedly. It's not always comfortable, but I appreciate it when a book can provoke that kind of an emotional response.

2008 Reads

This is a list of books I read in 2008, which I've been tracking on goodreads.

my '2008-reads' shelf:
 my 2008-reads shelf

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving - Best use of a taxidermied dog as a plot device.
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee, J.M. 
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe 
The Color Purple by Alice Walker 
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - Gothic noir. Yum.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
The Secret History by Donna Tartt - Possibly my favorite read this year.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Coastliners: A Novel by Joanne Harris
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - Inspiring
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson - Reread. I adore this novel.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham - Totally absorbing. I love postapocalyptic fiction.
Trilby by George Du Maurier
Sundiver by David Brin
The Postman by David Brin
Spook Country by William Gibson
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - Excellent read, but I was somewhat disappointed with the ending.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Lucy Maud
The Godfather by Mario Puzo - I haven't seen the movie, and  the book was mediocre.
The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente - Awesome.  A series of tales connected  Scheherazade style.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, Margaret - Absorbing read. Atwood is a great writer. 
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - Terribly depressing, but beautiful.
My Antonia by Willa Cather
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot - Hilarious and charming.

Palimpsest Trailer

I like the work of Catherynne M. Valente, and she's created a trailer for her upcoming book Palimpsest, which is due out in February.  This is the first trailer that I've seen for a book, and it's a great idea!