READ THIS! January Review

I know there's one day left in the month of January, but I have some very exciting things to show you (Hint: Our entryway and bedroom art are both almost completely finished - it was a busy weekend!) and so I thought I'd wrap up this month's READ THIS! novel a day early; I hope you don't mind. And, if you've been reading along, but aren't quite finished yet, I promise that my review doesn't give anything away!

This January, we started 2012 off with the 2011 Man Booker Prize winner, The Sense of An Ending, by Julian Barnes.

Amazon describes the novel as this:

"By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse. This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world. A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre."

This short novel, almost a novella, is well-written and incredibly sharp, but at the same time, one of the most dreary and depressingly written novels that I have read in quite a long time. The entire novel is written through Tony's memory of what occurred between forty and fifty years beforehand; a memory that he admits may not be completely accurate. While Amazon's description makes the novel seem exciting, and as though there's this great mystery that comes along for the reader to solve, there is almost zero excitement as we trudge along with Tony on his "adventure." I believe that USA Today's Deirdre Donahue said it best when she wrote:

"Nominated three previous times, the much-admired English novelist Julian Barnes has finally taken home Britain's prestigious Man Booker Prize. But before you rush to buy his prize-winning novel, a warning. There's no question Barnes is a gifted writer but, honestly, The Sense of an Ending will leave a lot of American readers mystified at how it won. [...] In the longest, dreariest 163 pages in recent memory, Sense of an Ending offers pretentious philosophical musings masquerading as a novel."  

Barnes is, indeed, a talented writer and this novel is a clear demonstration of his talent. However, the novel's slow pace and lack of plot made it a bit difficult to get through. For those of you who read along, did you feel the same way? Or were you enamored by Barnes' writing style and his insightful words? And, if you're an international reader, do you think it is as Donahue suggests, that being American has something to do with one's view of the novel? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it!

And now, I'd like to introduce to you, the READ THIS! February Book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer:

You may have heard of this novel, which was first published in 2005, and wide released in the U.S. on January 20, 2011. Amazon describes the novel as follows:

"Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey."

I have read many novels over the past 10 years with glimpses of 9/11 thrown in without purpose, seemingly to add relevance or bring more emotion out of the reader, but I think that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will provide a new perspective on such an emotional and striking part of our country's history. I urge you to read along with me, even though you may find the subject to be a bit depressing (note: it is a bit depressing). I am looking forward to reading this novel and I hope that you will read along with me!

If you're reading along, please grab a button from the sidebar for your blog!



  1. I got about 80 pages in to EL&IC and had to stop... too sad for me. What I read of it was very well written though, and I'm sure it's a wonderful book!

  2. I'm sucked in. I want to take a day off work just to finish it! I'll be back!


to top