21. A Hologram for the King (Dave Eggers)- I read this book because there was a movie coming out starring Tom Hanks based on it but I still haven’t seen the movie. The book was okay. The plot and the characters didn’t do much for me but I do have to give the book credit for the way it made me feel at the end. The book ends with a failed business deal. In the grand scheme of all the tragedies that have occurred in literature, a failed business deal is nothing but somehow this book managed to make me feel sadder about a failed business deal than other books have made me feel about untimely deaths. The other thing that sicks out in my mind about this book is a hilarious dirty camel joke. To be honest I’m not even 100% sure that I read that joke in this book. I might just be associating it with this book because it takes place in Saudi Arabia and there are a lot of camels in Saudi Arabia. Regardless, I’m finding myself amused by a dirty camel joke right now.
22. Me Before You (JoJo Meyes)-Usually my problem with liking a book is that I don’t like it as much as I want to like it but this was a case of me liking a book more than I wanted to like it. It was a fluff romance that was not particularly well written nor were the plot or characters particularly well developed. To top it all off it expressed ideas about physical disability that many people found offensive in a similar way to how I found the ideas expressed about autism in Love Anthony offensive. Yet in spite of all that, I liked it. There was something about it that was charming, touching and compelling. Voluntary euthanasia of the disabled was probably too heavy and complex of a subject to be tackled by a romance author who calls herself JoJo. I have some mixed and conflicting feelings about euthanasia. In theory I think everyone has the right to decide for themselves whether they live or die and no one else should be able to decide for them but in actuality euthanasia for reasons other than fatal illness makes me sad and uncomfortable. I felt sad and uncomfortable when Will made that choice in this book but I can understand why someone in his position might make such a choice and respect his right to make it. I saw the movie and had similar feelings as I had about the book. Objectively it was not a very good movie but I enjoyed watching it plus Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin are just so cute. I’m embarrassed to admit that I did not understand the title Me Before You until I saw it explained on Goodreads. I read Me Before You as putting yourself before your partner in a relationship and that never really made sense to me in the context of the story. You’d think that the sequel being called After You would have clued me in to the fact that Me Before You means “how I was before I met you” but no, I really am that dense.
23. After You (JoJo Meyes)- I heard a lot of people who liked Me Before You say that they hated After You and that it ruined everything. I didn’t think it was that bad or at least it wasn’t much worse than Me Before You. Yes, the plot was contrived but it’s a romance novel, what do you expect? I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Me Before You but that was partially because reading the two books back to back made me get sick of the character of Louisa.
24. All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)-I can sum up this book in one sentence: War is hell. If anyone is under the impression that there is anything glamorous or desirable about war, this book should disabuse them of that notion. This book was recommended to me by my brother. He warned me that it was very gruesome and violent. I wasn’t put off by the violence in this case because it was intrinsic to the plot rather than gratuitous or sensationalized. I think I found the psychological toll the war took on the soldiers in this book even more disturbing than the physical toll it took. The last lines of this book are haunting.
25. H is for Hawk (Helen McDonald)- This is the award winning memoir of a woman who after her father’s death adopts a hawk and trains it in falconry. When my mom’s friend saw me reading this book she was baffled and fascinated by it because she didn’t understand how a book about training a hawk could be good. It was very good. There are a lot of grief memoirs out there but I’ve never read one quite like this one. It’s combined with nature writing and some of the prose is beautiful. Training a hawk is not a traditional method of coping with grief but it seemed to work for Helen McDonald. I didn’t know much about falconry and thought of it as a mostly dead sport. It was interesting to read about and I’m glad it helped the author but I do find it kind of ethically questionable. She says that a hawk is not a pet and will never be fully tame. Why does a wild animal need to be kept in captivity so a human can have the pleasure of hunting with it? It seems better to just let them be wild, watch them from afar and enjoy the company of domesticated animals. A lot of this memoir is devoted to analyzing a memoir about falconry written a long time ago by an author named T.H. White. He had some issues to deal with including being gay at a time and place when that was considered unacceptable and training a hawk seemed to be therapeutic for him as well. I enjoyed reading about his memoir from Helen McDonald’s perspective but I don’t have much desire to read his memoir in its entirety. Well, if it’s on sale as one of the Kindle daily deals I’ll probably buy it. I’m a sucker for those deals.)