The "theme" this time is male--male authors and male main characters. I usually prefer books written by females or at least books whose main characters are females, but I decided to branch out a little.
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway: This is a novel that has four narrators, all living in war-torn Sarajevo in the 1990s. The first is a cellist who watches 22 of his friends and neighbors die when a shell hits a line of people waiting to buy bread; he then decides to sit in the marketplace and play his cello for 22 days. Two of the narrators are men who are braving the shells and hillside snipers to try to get daily essentials like food and water. The fourth narrator is a female sniper who is trying to defend the city and protect the cellist. The novel gives a pretty in depth view of daily life during a horrific time. It studies the way war changes people and the little ways those people fight back. This book was not the usually "fluff" that I let myself escape into, but I thought it was a good book. It definitely opened my eyes to a situation I knew little about and made me feel grateful for the sheltered life we live.
The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas: Not all happy times, but definitely a much lighter book than The Cellist of Sarajevo, this novel tells the story of Henry Bay, an associate editor who wanders across the country working for different enthusiast magazines (e.g., Spelunk, Ice Climbing, Cozy, The Magazine of Tea). Reading this novel, you get to learn about Henry as he experiences everyone else's passions without ever really finding his own. This book is full of the interesting characters that Henry encounters at these different magazines as well as Henry's family members who are on journeys of their own. There are a lot of little "insight into real life" moments and some good laugh outloud ones too. There are also some good "make you think" moments too. Haas's writing style is fun and flows quickly. Overall, I found the book to be quirky and a little odd, but a decent read.
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks: Another Nicholas Sparks romance novel, this one really sucked me in--possibly because I'm a sucker for a romance and always want to read about the happily ever after. Did I get my wish with this one? I'm not telling. You'll have to read it to find out. Dear John tells the story of John Tyree, a Wilmington, NC native who enlisted in the army at the age of 20 when he decided he needed to do something with his life, and Savannah Lynn Curtis, a college student who grew up in the mountains and wants to help children with autism. The two meet while John is on leave and Savannah is in Wilmington volunteering for Habitat for Humanity for the summer. The two fall and love and try to make a one week romance survive an army enlistment that still has two more years to go. As always, Sparks' book moves at a quick pace. This one is a little less preachy than The Rescue, but still seems to be trying to teach us about how to live as good people. What are you trying to tell me, Nicholas Sparks? Anyway, it was a good read, not overly deep but good, with an interesting ending. If anyone reads it, let me know, I want to chat about the ending. Thanks!