I'm reading this book that the NYTimes recommended quite highly, and I'm not into it. But I want to finish it because Julie skimmed it and then we can both talk about how little we cared about the main character and how contrived (yet without authorial twinkle) the situations were. Too bad.
The title, Beginner's Greek, made me realize why I loved the movie The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) so much. It's a movie about a Stasi surveillance of a GDR playwright. But the Stasi guy intervenes at certain points and (I'm not giving too much away) the whole reason for the surveillance is so that another Stasi guy can make a less contested play for the playwright's girlfriend. And because of Beginner's Greek, I noticed that the story was very much like a Greek tragedy: a god wants to have sex with a mortal and gets other, lesser gods, to intervene in the mortals' lives, but someone messes with fate with unforseen, not happy (sorry, those of you who haven't seen it yet) consequences.
Rent the movie.
Don't bother with the book, unless you want my copy. I'll be giving it away shortly.