I finished Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood tonight. It was not nearly as good as other books that I have read by her (well, any other books that I have read by her), but I read it fairly quickly, and I didn’t consider not finishing it, so I guess it wasn’t too bad. Reading the reviews on Amazon, I can see where it is probably very dated, and was probably much more cutting edge when it was written. I liked the end a lot, even though it was quite a change from the mysteries I have been reading. In mysteries, when you get to the end, everything becomes clear. At the end of this book, it is all up in the air. But it is still a very hopeful ending, as the people realize that their lives are not pre-ordained, there is still some mystery in them. In fact, when I was reading it, I didn’t like it all that much, but I am liking it more the more I think about it.
One thing I really didn’t like about the book–it had a discussion guide at the end. I suppose that those can be helpful to structure a book group discussion, but I find them irritating. First of all, I read for fun, not to take a test at the end. Also, it seems kind of lazy to me. If you are going to have a book group, shouldn’t you come up with the discussion questions yourselves? I’ve never belonged to a book group, so I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that if I were in one, it would be to discuss how the book spoke to us as readers, not to determine if I could answer a bunch of academic questions. Part of the fun would be discovering these questions and topics through discussion, not through reading a list. So, it makes me feel lazy (this slothful reader-for-pleasure, no literary analysis for me), but it also seems lazy to use the guides if you are going in for literary analysis. Which is probably just snobbishness, but they annoy me anyway.
Total number of books on my list of not-read-yet books: 53.
I finished two, I discovered that I actually had read one, and I added a bunch of books I bought at the book closeout place Monday night while the kids were at their dad’s. I didn’t add all of them, though, so the actual number of books that I haven’t read is higher, but I ran out of energy for typing them in.