Let’s talk about some books I’ve read lately, hmmmm? But first, let me tell you a funny story.
Last Wednesday when I got home from work I knew that Thursday would be a snow day. I changed into pajamas and wondered on Facebook if I’d get dressed again before I had to go back to work on Monday. I mean, I knew I would have to but it was still fun to speculate about spending the next 5 days in my jammies doing nothing but reading and knitting. At the suggestion of a friend I started a contest and asked my friends to guess how many books I would finish over the extended weekend. I figured it would be at least 2 and perhaps 3 and a lot of people guessed that – some, however, were crazy and suggested I might finish 8 or more. Seriously? Maybe if I’d read Jack a half dozen board books I could have met that quota.
I finished Reservoir 13 on Thursday and I started The Weight of Ink, a 576 page book. Do I have to tell you? I did not finish it by Sunday night which meant that I only finished ONE book that weekend. I was definitely surprised and at one point on Sunday I found myself rushing to get through The Weight of Ink when I thought, STOP. Stop reading so fast just to finish a book so you can say you finished two. Stop rushing through this book that’s really quite good and should be savored and enjoyed. So I slowed myself down and yesterday I posted that I’d only finished one. Nice person that I am, I gave everyone who commented a chance at the prize (a home baked pie) since no one actually guessed that I would only finish one book. I pulled my friend Steve’s name out of the basket so I’ll be baking him the pie of his choice very soon.
Now let’s talk about the books that I did finish in December and the first week of January!
Still Me by JoJo Moyes
Louisa Clark is back and just as quirky, thoughtful, insecure and hopeful as ever. She learns a few more life lessons in this book, reflects back on things that happened with Will and Sam in the previous books, and ultimately discovers that reinventing yourself again and again isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Recommended for fans of the series and for those who enjoy the genre. I was given a copy of this book by Net Galley for review.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
John Green tackles mental illness (OCD) in this book and I found his portrayal of Aza to be realistic and enlightening. The description of her thoughts and how they control and frighten her was enlightening and I found myself contemplating what it must be like to experience the world in that way. That said, not much else happens and I didn’t love this the way I loved The Fault in Our Stars.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Timely and relevant, this story is a modern adaptation of Antigone – which works very well although I thought the ending was forced. I found the plot relating to jihad recruiting fascinating and couldn’t help but reflect on how the political climate of the world is feeding the extremists. The themes of loyalty, love, tragedy, ambition and justice are interwoven through the novel and, although parts of it feel disjointed, it’s very good.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
A sentimental and magical tale of how Mr. Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. Highly recommended for those who love Dickens and London and Christmas.
We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A collection of essays Coates wrote during Obama’s presidency that illuminate in a very sobering way just how the election of a black president perfectly set up the election of Trump. Heavy and thoughtful, at times a bit dull, but always important, I enjoyed the prologue to each essay more than the essays themselves because of the memoir aspect of those pieces. A tough but important book and one I will think about for a long time.
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
The premise of the book is great – a murder mystery manuscript being read by the editor – and a real life mystery tied to it. But the book is too long and I felt like it really got bogged down about half way through. Despite the tediousness of getting to the conclusion I did enjoy it, particularly the references to Agatha Christie.
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
I really enjoyed this prequel to Practical Magic, which I haven’t actually read yet. Hoffman delivers a beautiful tale full of magic, longing, despair and love. Highly recommended.
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
This is a wonderful book for the reader who loves a setting that feels alive and real. Not a lot happens but the cycles of the seasons, the repetition of nature, the birth and death of everything living is beautifully told in a way that reminds me of Brian Doyle’s Mink River. There are a lot of characters to track but if you can give yourself over to knowing that it’s all very fluid and not necessary to remember all the details I think you’ll find this well deserving of the praise it has received.
Those were all mostly great but I think We Were Eight Years in Power is the one that has stayed with me the most.
What are you reading these days?