First I read The Snow Child, which is an enchanting fairy tale for grown-ups, and I was indeed enchanted. Until I got to the end, when I was all, "Wait. What? But then...what happened to the? And what about the? And what does that mean for the? And so was she or wasn't she?" It was a beautiful story, and the ending was as sad as all those original fairy tales where no one has modernized it for children yet.
Then I read Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, which is one of those 1960's Heavy Message books of the sort I haven't read since I had to in high school. I DID like it, and I AM glad I read it, and now I think "See the cat? See the cradle?" at appropriate times and I like that, and also I feel more culturally literate, and also now I can say "So I was reading some Vonnegut the other night, and..." But I also felt like there was a lot of stuff going over my head, stuff that I would need a literature professor to explain to me while I tried to stay awake, and I didn't like that. And it's kind of depressing/insightful on the subject of religion, and I couldn't tell if I liked that or not but it was depressing either way.
Then I read No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make It Better by Elizabeth Weil, the title of which I unfortunately misread as "Then I Made It Better," so throughout the entire book I was thinking, "When do we stop talking about marriage therapies/theories I don't believe in ('The marital bond mimics the mother/infant bond!') and get to the part where something WORKED??" (She does claim that things worked, but boy, I didn't get that feeling from it.) Also, I ended up depressed because she's married to
Next was Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet by Heather Poole. I lovvvvvvvvve insider tell-alls, so I wanted to know ALL ABOUT what it was like to be a flight attendant and all the inside scoop on things. But she was so carelessly, cheerfully MEAN about everyone and everything. Like she didn't even realize she was saying mean things. It wasn't even snarky, it was just MEAN. And you know how it is when someone is telling you a mean story about someone else and you can't even enjoy it because it doesn't sound true? Like, it sounds so distorted and exaggerated and one-sided, it doesn't even make SENSE? I stopped reading halfway through, because the stories were making me feel queasy and I didn't even believe the parts that were almost certainly true (or at least trueish) and I wasn't even ENJOYING them. And I came away with that unpleasant "People are actually, seriously dismissing me as a worthwhile human being because I don't wax my eyebrows / don't get pedicures / have a minivan"-type feeling about humanity.
Then I read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Someone I read JUST wrote about this in the last few weeks, and I need to pretty much cut and paste everything that person said about it because she was exactly right: it was about Jesuits and space travel and that worked; it was one of those books where you know from the beginning that everyone is doomed (the example given was Bel Canto); there is quite a bit of crying; she was so glad she read it. That's how I feel too. Now someone please recognize who I'm talking about so I can provide a LINK and some CREDIT. [AH HA! It was Notthedaddy's post! Thanks, Shelly!]
This was another book that was depressing/insightful about religion, and again I didn't know how I felt about it. It was also depressing/insightful about society, and about contact with other societies, and about the way creatures are. And it was very sad: they tell you right at the beginning that only one member of the space traveling group is going to make it back. And yet there was a lot of laughing/happiness too, and so many interesting things, and I am so, so glad I read it, and I have found it on my mind a LOT, and I'm going to read the sequel. And in fact my MAIN complaint among all the depressingness was actually how the author kept having her characters saying marginally funny things that had her other characters just ROLLING and GASPING with laughter---which is a bit immodest, isn't it, considering the author herself wrote those marginally funny things?
And NOW I'm reading Slaughterhouse-Five, another Kurt Vonnegut. I keep getting interested in these older books because I subscribe to Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos, and the stories about why people got certain things from books permanently put onto their skin make me want to go read those books. This one is kind of about war and kind of about space aliens and kind of about time travel and kind of about being a Heavy Message book. And I like it, and I'm glad I'm reading it, and my guess at this point is that I will be glad to have read it, but it also makes me feel like drinking.