Sunday, August 16, 2015

read | A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson recently re-entered my awareness when I saw the movie trailer this summer. I’d been meaning to read some of his work for a while, and this seemed like the perfect time to start. I’d also just watched the movie Wild, which piqued my interest in the world of hiking. This book tells of Bryson’s attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. The book breaks up stories of hiking (and hikers) with information about the science and history of the trail. While this is certainly relevant, due to the book’s length of 274 pages I feel like these passages are included to fill out the page count. Fortunately, these sections usually wrapped up as I was preparing to skim. Another drawback to these digressions is that you don’t feel fully immersed in the trail for any duration that would emphasize just how long the trail really is. The hikers walk for miles and miles and miles, but when you leave the story every thirty pages or so, it throws you out.

The edition I read has a movie tie-in cover that isn’t the most offensive I’ve seen. It’s not embarrassingly prominent glamour shots where the faces have been airbrushed to anonymity. The people on the cover do kind of ruin it. Cover them up with a Post-It or something and you’re left with a suitably majestic view of the Appalachian Trail, though I suppose this doesn’t do much to promote the film.

When A Walk in the Woods is actually about the walk in the woods, I didn’t want to put it down. There are some slow bits that break it up, but overall I found this book a highly enjoyable account of a world most people never enter.

3.5 stars out of 5
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, August 7, 2015

read | Summer House with Swimming Pool

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch is intentionally and successfully unsettling. Right off the bat you learn that general physician Marc Schlosser has made a decision that throws his license into jeopardy. The novel then backtracks to the events that lead to his questionable actions.

The characters are unlikable, made even more so by their lack of redeeming qualities. This leads to an interesting cast, though if the character flaws were intended to make the people seem more realistic they fell short of their goal. While it's true that everyone has their faults, it seems that these characters give you no reasons to root for them. This took some getting used to, but I eventually enjoyed that when a character solves a problem it creates trouble for someone else.

This book is slow, but the writing is compelling enough to support the areas that are largely character driven. The beach vacation home as a setting (not to mention the cover design) makes this book seem like a fun summer read. The subject matter does not, so be prepared.

3 out of 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Booksfor this review.