Sometimes I have a difficult time writing about books when I was less than thrilled by them. If I truly hate them, the words come with ease. But when I have little feeling toward the book or its subject it can take me awhile to get around to their reviews, and even when I do it’s painstaking work. So I’ve decided to just do a couple of mini reviews for the books on my list yet to be reviewed. Let me know what you thought of these books too. I’d love to hear from some people who liked these books. Perhaps then I can discover whatever it was I missed.

First up is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the beginning I found Marquez’s writing to be absolutely beautiful. I got carried away with the words and loved the vivid descriptions he conveyed through the writing. However, I’m not much of a romantic and I found myself being quite skeptical of Florentino Ariza’s undying love for Fermina Daza. Not only that, but I kept getting the two confused. I realize the names aren’t that similar, but as I plowed through the book hoping it would end quickly I kept seeing the F and thinking it was one character, only to get to a pronoun (he or she) and realize I had been wrong about which character had been speaking.

Also, I really loved Fermina’s husband and the descriptions of him. I didn’t understand why Marquez spent so much time describing him (some 50 pages in the beginning of the book) just to kill him off. Also, really, how long can infatuation last when you’ve never actually talked to the subject of your fascination? I just didn’t get it and I was bored to tears. I hate to admit it but I never made it more than halfway through this book. Someone out there, please convince me there is some reason I should try to pick this book up again.

Next is Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. I became fascinated by this book after listening raptly to Rolf Potts’ reading at Google Talks. Potts talked about how he worked menial jobs and lived humbly in order to save up enough money to spend months on end traveling. After college he traveled around the United States for a year with one of his friends before signing up to teach English in Asia. He spent two years teaching, then spent the following four years traveling using his earnings from that job.

Having already made two attempts to move abroad, I was curious to find out how he actually made it work and learn what steps I could take to finally become a wanderer myself. I didn’t find the book to be that helpful, however. He talked about the reasons we travel and what-not. But when you’ve already picked up his book, it’s obvious you don’t need any extra encouragement. What you need is resources to get you on the road! He does provide resources … in the form of URLs to visit and other books to read … resources you can just as easily find on his Web site. The book was only about 200 pages so it was quick to get through, but I highly recommend just checking out his Web site and his video on Google Talks. You’ll get pretty much the same information by doing so.

Last is Dematerializing by Jane Hammerslough. This is another book that I haven’t actually finished, but at this point I’m not sure I have the courage to try. I had to return four unread books to the library today because I got so mired in this book I was unable to face any other reading in the meantime. I knew once I set it down I may never pick it up again, and so it is. I gave it up on Sunday in order to read our book club selection (Year of Wonders, if you’re interested in joining the discussion, learn more here).

I chose to read Dematerializing because I thought it would have some interesting insight into why we buy things and perhaps some tips on how to get rid of all the extra stuff we somehow accumulate in our homes. The book turned out to be a lot more about the psychology behind buying things and what advertisers do to draw us in. There were also a lot of weird feminist leanings to the book, which I wouldn’t normally mind, but I didn’t get this book to read about how advertising demoralizes women. If that were what I was going for, I would have bought the much better written and researched, although ancient, Can’t Buy My Love by Jean Kilbourne.

To be fair, I think the other reason this book bothered me so much was that it didn’t say anything I didn’t already know, but perhaps that is because I’m reading it several years after it was first published. Maybe her observations about media’s influence on us was a new phenomenon a few years back (although I highly doubt it).

OK then, I’m glad to have those off my conscience. Now I can look forward to my next two book reviews. Also, watch for an interview with Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony, later this week. Hope you’re all having a great Memorial Day!

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