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For the Love of Reading: March 2021

Hello friends and fellow readers. It’s time for me to share the books I read in the month of March.

Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
No one crafts a story quite like Fredrik Backman, and this book may be my favorite of his since A Man Called Ove. The characters are heartbreakingly human, the plot is full of surprising little twists and he plants seeds throughout that germinate in a truly satisfying way. It’s charming, delightful, funny, and heartwarming and I highly highly recommend it, particularly if you’re feeling despondent about the nature of the world right now.


Weather by Jenny Offill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jenny Offill is a talented writer but this book missed the mark for me. I generally like stream of consciousness narratives and don’t mind having to fill in the blanks myself but I really could have used some backstory and more details to connect with the main character, Lizzie. Rather than sympathizing with her situation, her anxiety annoyed me and I wanted to yell at her to just get over it already and appreciate the good in her life. I can’t recommend this book but I can still recommend this author.

Perestroika in Paris

Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A friend of mine referred to this book as Charlotte’s Web for grown ups (minus the tragedy) and that’s a truly accurate description. These talking animals are charming and delightful and the relationships they build with each other in order to navigate living in Paris are heartwarming. I was cheering for them from the beginning to the end!

The Upstairs House

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An exploration of the postpartum experience, this book brought me right back to the early days with my own daughter, the ambivalent feelings about new motherhood, the exhaustion and self-doubt, along with the fierce need to protect this baby with everything I had even if I wasn’t awash in maternal love. My “baby blues” lasted a few days, this character’s deepens into depression and then some. Some of it left me with more questions than answers but that’s not a bad thing. Definitely recommended.

Ghost Wall

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This novel is short but packs a punch. I found myself both horrified and fascinated at this creepy tale of a people attempting to live for two weeks during the period of the Iron Age. I have participated in many reenactments myself, going back in time to live as if it was 1860, and I recognize that some people take it more seriously than others, but these people, and one character in particular, take things way too far. The ending felt a little abrupt to me but I’ve worked out the details on my own and taken it to a satisfactory conclusion.

Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“It’s hard to not know what you are coming in to at nights.”
As someone who grew up in a household that abused alcohol, this was a difficult book for me to read. While my situation was not as extreme as the one portrayed here, Stuart beautifully captures the despair of a child with an alcoholic parent. The need to protect her, the attempt to always assess her moods, the constant worry about what you will come home and find. This book is bleak and gritty and heavy. It’s also utterly unforgettable. I highly recommend it but warn you that it’s going to rip you apart if you identify at all with these characters.

The Lost Apothecary

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The description of this book filled me with excitement, two time periods, strong female characters, and elements of mystery. The reality is that both stories lacked any real conflict or drama and the whole thing was rather dull and predictable.

Plenty of really great titles there and only one true dud in the bunch. I hope you found something you might like to read.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I too loved Anxious People — I am so in awe of a mind that can come up with a story like that!

    I’m currently reading Shuggie Bain right now, and I can only imagine how hard it must be to read if you have direct experience with an alcoholic parent. It’s such a gut punch even without that direct knowledge.

  2. I see at least one new book and one new author to read. Thanks, as always, for your helpful reviews.

  3. I’ve read most of those . . . and totally agree with your assessments! 🙂
    (Gonna leave The Lost Apothecary right on the library shelf, though . . . )
    Reading Shuggie Bain now. (Sigh. So good.)

  4. I felt the same way about Anxious People, but for some reason I haven’t been able to get into Perestroika. I’ve tried twice and ended up putting it down both times. I think I will need to wait for a while after I finish Shuggie Bain to attempt it again!

  5. As always, I so appreciate your book reviews, Carole. Putting a couple of these on my to-read list. Right now, I am leaning toward feel-good books. I have a bad case of the Covid blues, but I am working on it, trying to fill my life with lots of lights and hope.

  6. I’ve got Shuggie Bain on reserve. I remember my mom reading Angela’s Ashes and saying it hit just too close to home. I always enjoy your reviews Carole!

  7. Oh I love seeing your positive review of Anxious People! and Shuggie Bain. I knew Sarah was reading it and I’ve been apprehensive … even without the alcoholic parent … I guess I need to just read it!

  8. I recommended Anxious People to my book group and we had a lively discussion about the characters and the layers. I loved it.

  9. Have you also tackled What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez? I disliked both that book and Weather for the same reasons (HA!), but they are similar books with that drifty-reflective vibe. I’m not sure if I’m recommending this one or suggesting you avoid it, though.

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