Happy Easter! I’m so happy to finally be seeing and feeling spring…but pretty much all I want to do now is this:
The only thing missing from this singing-to-flowers-while-gazing-at-the-open-blue-sky gig is a book! In March, my reading was done on my chaise lounge or in my car…so I’m definitely looking forward to switching it up in summertime.
WJ = read aloud/listened with James
AB = audiobook
RR = re-read
BC = book club
REC = recommended to me
NF = nonfiction
F = fiction
- People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks: AB, F
When I peruse audio books through Overdrive, I look for a few things: titles I’ve heard are good; authors I know or have heard of; pretty covers. If any of those three prerequisites are met, I’ll read the description, look it up on Goodreads, and go from there. This one caught my eye for two reasons: I’d read another Geraldine Brooks last year (and I think my mom has one of her books on her shelves at home?), and the cover was pretty =) I was intrigued by the description and downloaded it. People of the Book is about the people whose lives significantly crossed paths with a specific Haggadah that a book preservationist was preserving in a high-profile event to promote international unity. I’m into books, especially beautiful books, especially significant books, and I think preservation work is cool, and of course I love stories of people, especially throughout history and different cultures, so this was an interesting one for me. Of course, as fiction, the stories of the people who held onto this book weren’t real, but they were very distinct and very interesting. And the preservationist’s story got pretty involved as well! I was surprised by how much I simply enjoyed this book.
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge: BC, NF
Read this with Our Shared Shelf, Emma Watson’s online feminist book group. It’s clearly about race relations, often particularly looking at intersectional feminism. I really had a lot of blind spots in this regard–and even just the history and present state of racism in the UK. I naively thought race relations were better over there than America…and I’m not really sure where I got that idea. So yes, it was eye-opening and important and incredibly worthwhile. I think it is important to seek out perspectives and experiences that are different from our own, which not only leads to being a better-informed human, but a more empathetic and self-aware one as well. People matter. And their experiences matter. And making improvements for the benefit of others matters vastly. I can do better.
- Commonwealth, Ann Patchett: AB, F
Again, this passed the audio book litmus test on two accounts: I’d heard of the book and the author, and had heard positive things. It was interesting enough, but not a mind-blowing or revelatory story for me. I do generally like generation-spanning stories because I find the growth of individuals and their relationships within a family very interesting, so that was satisfying for me (maybe especially because it was a blended family?). Although when the kids were supposed to be in their like 50’s they still sounded the way they did at 30ish, so that was a bit of a bummer for me. So many times when I read books, I just want to tell the characters that all their problems would be immensely improved if they’d just communicate with each other. But then, I remember, there’d hardly be any stories left. And then art couldn’t imitate life since so many of our own problems stem from not talking to each other, or not talking to each other authentically.
- Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin: AB, NF
Okay, I’ve talked a lot about Gretchen Rubin and my previous love affair after reading The Happiness Project then my falling-out when I read Better Than Before (read why here) and then my cautious rekindling of that love with The Four Tendencies (revisit that mini review here). So I decided to give this older book a chance since it promised to be another happiness project. And I’m glad I did! I love the concept of the book, Samuel Johnson’s assertion that, “To be happier at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.” I ended up buying a paperback copy so I can maybe use it as more of a handbook. I’ll give some of the applicable strategies a try, and of course alter it all to fit my own needs and personality and life. I’m into this kind of thing. So yeah, you could say Gretchen and I are definitely back on good terms (although I’m not gonna be reckless about it).
- Oathbringer, Brandon Sanderson: WJ, some AB, F
Well, this is what we’ve been reading toward for the past several months (except that there will be thousands and thousands more pages of this series for the foreseeable future, so this journey is not complete). It was pretty good! A bit of a slow start, which seems to be just part of the whole 10-book-series-with-years-between-release-dates thing. And also it’s a really complex story with plenty that readers need to be reminded of. Regardless, the set-up consistently feels like we should have carb-loaded and had energy gels on hand in preparation for this marathon. But once it picked up it was interesting. Edgedancer played more of a role than I thought it would, and now James wants to probably read Warbreaker together since that also comes into play. Anyway, the characters made some…interesting choices and the world got pretty cool. I like that he’s telling multiple sides of the main conflict.
- The Polygamist’s Daughter, Anna LeBaron: AB, F
Really rough writing (possibly made more apparent through the over-done inflections on the audio book). Lots of cliches. But interesting story. Man, religion can really twist people’s perceptions and actions. This is an extreme example (since not only polygamy is illegal but also, y’know, murder), and it was sad to hear about her awful childhood because of this polygamist sect’s culture/expectations/norm. At the bottom of all of it was power–the power (and necessity) of not letting people leave the cult of polygamy. Yiiiiikeso.
- The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr: NF
Picked this one up at a $1 book sale since I’ve always heard of it and how it influenced memoir writing. I liked the raw language of her particular childhood, and I appreciated when she’d acknowledge that her memories are different than her sister’s, or when a particular memory ends, even though she knows there must have been some response/repercussions of particular events that she doesn’t remember–she supposes on the page what likely could or should have happened afterward, acknowledging that she doesn’t remember. I have trouble believing her memories are that crystal-clear, though. There is so much detail in here that’s often presented as straight fact, straight image-captured memory, direct thoughts from her seven-year-old mind, that I resist it a bit. However, I haven’t written a memoir, so I’m not sure if a long-term project about childhood would reveal more detailed memories since you’re mining them so deeply and your focus is so sustained and the process is so long. I think about these things as a nonfiction writer. On the story level, this was pretty engaging since her family was so wild. I hoped it was real and not padded for extra shock value.
- And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, Fredrik Backman: AB, NF (novella)
Love Backman, loved this short little homage to dementia. Loved the grandpa-grandson relationship and its impact on the father-son relationships. Short and sweet, both.