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For the Love of Reading: Late October through Early December 2020

Can you handle it if we talk about reading two days in a row? I talk about reading every single day even though I don’t blog about it as frequently. Yesterday, though, I realized I haven’t done an updated list of books I’ve read since October and with the end of the year coming it seems prudent to do one now. Here’s what I’ve finished over the last little while:

MonogamyMonogamy by Sue Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Character driven novels are not usually my favorites to read but this one changed all of that. These people felt so real to me, their daily struggles, the feelings of fear and loneliness that comes with being disconnected from those you love, the blessing and curse that is grief. I saw myself over and over again in Annie, in her concern of losing herself over to a love so big it’s all consuming and in her desperation with what to do when it’s finally gone. This is a beautifully written study of marriage, love, passion, family, and grief. Highly recommended.

Transcendent KingdomTranscendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is sad and slow and it took me a while to get into it. But once I adapted to the rhythm of it, the non-linear narrative and the continuous weighing of faith vs science, I loved it. The ending is particularly satisfying but mostly because of the road Gifty traveled to get there.

Before the Ever AfterBefore the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A short but powerful book chronicling the early days of CTE and it’s impact on the family of a pro football player. I loved ZJ’s honest narrative and found his story both heartbreaking and hopeful. Highly recommended.

Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa CookbookModern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s not secret that I love comfort food and there are some really great recipes in this collection. From fig and cheese toasts to spicy pimento cheese spread to smashed eggs on toast, I found a lot of things I want to try. I bet you will, too.

Magic Lessons (Practical Magic, #0.1)Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Maria Owens and how the curse on the Owens family came to be. While some part of the story felt repetitive, the ending was so satisfying I am able to overlook that flaw. Highly recommended for fans of the Practical Magic series.

ApeirogonApeirogon by Colum McCann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

Different. Extraordinary. Moving. And very hard to describe. Trust me when I say to read it. Or even better, to listen to it.

The Once and Future WitchesThe Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is good but it is repetitive and much too long. I finished for the sake of the story but it could have been about 200 pages shorter, I think.

The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Uplifting and delightful, full of quirky characters and a beautiful setting, this book will open your eyes to bias and prejudice in a new way, and it will make you cheer for the underdog with an ending that will leave you crying and laughing all at the same time. Highly recommended.

Grief is the Thing with FeathersGrief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful, this book drills down to the heart of grief and recovery. I read it in one sitting. You should, too.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress CycleBurnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel like this book started out strong but then it got repetitive. The idea of completing the stress cycle is valuable and I plan to use that for my own stress but the rest of the advice was comprised of things we all already know. Ultimately, they had too much for a magazine article but not enough for a book.

Leave the World BehindLeave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In many ways this book left me with more questions than answers and for that reason alone I keep thinking about it, trying to work out what was happening and what the future holds for these characters. It’s not an easy thing to read during a pandemic, it perhaps compounded my feelings of hopelessness right now, but the story is entertaining and the writing is good.

A BurningA Burning by Megha Majumdar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who would you hurt and how far would you go to make your dreams come true? That is really at the crux of this heartbreaking and wonderful debut. Highly recommended.

The Pull of the StarsThe Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You would think reading a book about a pandemic in the midst of a pandemic would be unsettling, and you’d be correct. It’s also comforting, though, as it is a reminder that the human race has survived pandemics before and we will again, even at a terrible price. I do think the book got bogged down a bit in places and the ending then felt very rushed to me but I recommend it for the story and the writing style.

And that’s what I’ve been reading over here. I hope you’ll find something there that will inspire you to pick it up and read it.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. I only gave Monogamy 3 stars but I found it interesting that you enjoyed it so much because you saw yourself in Annie. I can’t remember the last time I identified with a character in a book, but I’m going to be paying attention to it. This is the second time Cerulean Sea has been mentioned today and it’s just past 7:00; clearly, I need to read it!

  2. You have been doing a lot of great reading lately! I have several of these titles either on hold or on my TBR list, so I appreciate your reviews.

  3. That is for adding to my list. I was just on my library website and using the For Later feature so I don’t miss any of the recommendations that are coming fast and furious. I really appreciate your lists.

  4. I have loved so many of the books on your list, Carole! (Grief is the Thing With Feathers, Apeirogon, Cerulean Sea, Monogamy). So good! I’m reading The Pull of the Stars right now (jury’s still out . . . ), and I completely agree about Burnout (good stuff, just very repetitive).

  5. I’ll be starting the Cerulean Sea as soon as I finish Redhead at the Side of the Road which will expire tonight I believe. You’ve got me re-thinking Apeirogon…I think I can do it if I listen. Thanks Carole!

  6. I just finished The House in the Cerulean Sea, and I was quite charmed! I read it on your recommendation, and I wanted to thank you. It was just what I needed to read right now. I will check out these other recommendations!

  7. I’ve JUST started listening to Apeirogon! It’s one of my last two spots to fill for my MMD ’20 Challenge. It’s hard for me to make listening time with everyone at home these days, but the deadline of year’s end–and so many 5 stars for this book–are a good nudge! Did you happen to hear the Nagoski sisters on BB’s podcast? That convinced me to order the book, which came in, and it’s in my pile right now. I’m wondering if the listen might have been enough, though. Sorta sounds like it…

  8. I always love your book picks, especially this time of year when looking for books to give as gifts – and I alays get great feedback from the recipients too! some of these are going to find their way into my list as well.

  9. What a knockout list, Carole – wow! I agree completely about Before the Ever After (did you listen to it? I did and the narrator was perfect!) … Cerulean Sea and Apeirogon are on my next up TBR (along with a half dozen other titles … it’s about time to accept that I’m not gonna finish all of them in 2020!)

  10. Have you read His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie yet? I didn’t think I’d love it, but I really did come to enjoy Afi and her path.

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