It's been a few months since I read it, but Cutting for Stone is absolutely one of the best books (if not THE best) I have ever read. I loved, loved, loved it...and I just don't know how to say it any better than that. This is one of those books that transported me completely to a different time and place, and it was a place I didn't want to leave. The main characters are identical twin boys, which I guess is what drew me to the book in the beginning, and their story spans several decades and settings (Ethiopia, India, and the U.S.). The author, Abraham Verghese is actually a doctor, and his knowledge of medicine is a distinct component to the story, but not in a distracting, difficult-to-understand way.
If you are a fan of literary fiction, I highly recommend Cutting for Stone. If you have read it, go read this article, which I saw just weeks after finishing this book...it will break your heart.
I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo back in Febraury, but in more recent months, I finally read the other two books in the series: The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Although I enjoyed the Dragon Tattoo, the other two were much easier to read and ultimately, more enjoyable. The first book in the trilogy focuses on the story of Mikael Blomkvist, and is full of technical and financial terms that make absolutely no sense to most of us. Add to that the fact that the novels are set in Sweden, and the book becomes hard to muddle through at first. After a few chapters, the heart of the story begins, and the story gets much better, if still complicated and confusing. There are some violent, twisted parts of this story that are a little hard to read, but I just tried not to focus on them and made it through just fine.
The second and third books in the series are really Lisbeth Salander's story. She is introduced in the first book, but without much insight into her mind or life. The two latter books are much less confusing and move a lot faster than the first, and I enjoyed them much more. The second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire was my favorite. If you make it through the first one, keep going with the other two!
One of the more recent books I have read is The Hunger Games. This one is actually in the young-adult category, a genre I haven't picked up in awhile (well, except for the Twilight series, but that hardly counts, right?). I had heard a lot about this book from other adult readers, but I kept deciding against it, thinking it was too science-fiction and futuristic for me. In a way, it was just that. The premise of the novel takes some suspended belief, for sure, and it's very, very depressing if you stop to think about it. Once I started reading, I realized that I couldn't dwell on the emotional aspects of what was happening in the book...it would just be too disturbing. (Anyone remember the short story "The Lottery"? It's a similar setup here...and that story disturbed me for years--no kidding.)
I ended up liking Hunger Games more than I thought I would at first. I didn't read in the "disturbing parallels" to our current society that some others did...I just didn't go that deep with the fictional society where the story takes place. I got this one from the library, as it's definitely not a story I want to revisit in the future. I plan to read the other two books in the series, but I am waiting until they are available at the library as well.
One Day is one of the most recent books I have finished. I read the description several times on the Kindle bestsellers list before finally deciding to go for it, based on another blogger's review. The premise of this novel is cute--it visits the two central characters on the same day (July 15) over a span of several years. It's a setup that should have worked very well, and I did actually like the way it was written. The problem? I found I never actually liked the characters all that much...any of them. At points, you are not supposed to like them, I get that. But by the time I got to the point where I was supposed to like them, I just didn't care anymore. I wasn't that invested. They grew on me a little in the final chapters, but not enough to salvage my opinion of the book as a whole.
Still, good writing and an interesting concept make it worth the effort if you're looking for something decent to pass the time.
There's a list of a few of my recent ventures...I am trying to keep a running list of this year's reads on my Read in 2010 page, though it's in need of an update right now. What have you read lately? Check out Rebecca's post to see what others are reading. Better yet, write your own post and link up!