The Year 2017 in Reading: 35 Books (The Bronze Books)

When challenged to read books in 2017, I joined friends who had set individual targets  based on their interest level and the challenges life had in front of them. Three friends proposed to read 15 books. Three really ambitious readers proposed reading 50 books, 60 books, and 75 books in succession with varying degrees of reported success. In fact, I had one friend that reported reading a few hundred pages per day to the tune of 379 books read.

In joining a friend in the aim to read 24 books, or two books per month, we both exceeded our goal by landing in the thirty-plus books range. On a rating scale of 1-star to 5-stars, Matt with Matt Lynn Digital rated the 35-books mostly as worthy reads.

Five (5) books landed with ratings of less than average, which is to say at 3.25-stars or less.  Eleven (11) books landed at average with a rating of 3.5-stars while one (1) landed at slightly above average with 3.75-stars. These seventeen (17) books will be collected into this remembrance of 2017. Simply follow the links for a fuller review of any particular book.

Ranking as above average at 3.75 stars in 2017 included this one (1) book:

Having written in a style reminiscent of Agatha Christie, I particularly liked the notion of there being two mysteries in a single book to unravel. One might remember that I spent an entire blog post in 2016 reviewing the Agatha Christie books read in 2016.

Magpie Murders 1

Ranking as average at 3.5 stars in 2017 included these eleven (11) books:

I stayed mostly in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with these books, with Candide being the notable exception.

Candide 1

Ranking as just below average at 3.25 stars in 2017 included this one (1) book:

Live By Night 1

Ranking as slightly below average at 3.0 stars in 2017 included these three (3) books:

My ranking of James Joyce came as the biggest disappointment here as I had hoped for something that would resonate more fully with me. Perhaps the larger issue here was my coming to the book in my forties rather than as a younger man.

ulysses

Ranking lowest at 2.50 stars in 2017 included this book:

That final book lands in the pulp fiction genre; the book itself was recommended by Stephen King, whose writing has some quirks to it though has been entertaining to me. The bottom line for this book for me is to realize that not all influences to authors that entertain me are books that I would want to read.

At the Mountains of Madness 1

The above listing of books reflects the bronze listing of books. A silver and gold listing will follow shortly.

Matt – Friday, December 29, 2017

Advertisements

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison provides a striking narrative

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison provides a striking narrative into the generational pains of race, intimacy, parenting, love, responding to the injustices of life, and varying degrees of assuaging guilt over life’s sometimes cruel lessons. The moral of this tale is something akin to “children remember what you did to them growing up.”

I am a male in my forties, married without kids, “parent” to a well-mannered dog. In reading Ms. Morrison, there are parts of the struggle that I intellectually recognize as difficult. I may lack some life experience in really feeling what motivated characters in God Help the Child.

timothy 7

My instincts tend toward seeing Sweetness as a product of an environment skewed towards depending excessively on self in a world bent on beating you down. I see here tacit acceptance of a racist construct dictated by when and where she lived. I saw Sweetness passing the cynicism of her experience onto Bride (Lula Ann) as a means of toughening Bride to a place of self-reliance in a world that offered less love than is right.

I feel sympathy for the cultural lot given Sweetness by the larger culture as well as Bride’s father, subject to the same forces and an inflicting force of the self-reliance ethos of Sweetness’ experience. My view is that you love those you’ve loved, in the face of the larger forces of history that may be working against you. I recognize irony for some that could point out that my life experience affords me that privilege.

In trying to gain love from Sweetness, I can understand though not condone Bride’s in childhood attempt to gain the affection of a mother through accusing an innocent woman of a terrible crime. It is a class and color anxiety that strains the life experiences between Sweetness and Bride, with Bride’s journey being the largest narrative of many Morrison articulates.

Booker and Bride have an oddly tense relationship fueled less by class or color tension than by a tension over a difficulty coping with child abuse. Bride, as a dark-skinned black adult of an emotional age similar to a “bone white” child of a prostitute named Rain, grows and receives catharsis in her relationship with Rain. Booker, like Rain, experienced the violence of childhood abuse. We see Booker cope with unhealthy outbursts against those he sees as perpetuating abuse against children he encounters as an adult.

Booker and Bride parent a child together. Unlike Bride’s parents, the promise of these two is to raise the child together as a couple. Sweetness, in learning of the pregnancy yet not the intended relationship, offers a judgment of the pending childhood that echoes the subject seen at least four times in this novel. It is Sweetness that clarifies that inability of the adults to take responsibility for the outcome of children when she summarized her assessment of the pending parenthood: “God help the child.” It is in this that she surmises the cycle of abuse, the overwhelming cynical cycle of abuse, will be repeated for the child of Booker and Bride.

Overall, I give the book 3.5-stars out of 5.

Matt – Monday, May 8, 2017