Spring is almost over here in Connecticut and I continue to be reading lots of good books. I previously blogged about some of my spring reads here, here and here. And I wrote earlier this year about my reading muses and strategies I have adopted to be able to read more. There are two more days until the solstice and I am up to 34 books this season and 70 this year to date. Yikes! Here are the highlights from the last few months.
The One-in -a-Million Boy is a wonderful read. I loved the story and the writing and the characters, especially the feisty older woman. I am recommending it to everyone I know. I found this book through Anne Bogel and bought it because it was a Kindle Deal. Thanks Anne!
I loved Our Souls at Night. It is beautifully written, a gentle book about aging, love, relationships, small towns. It made me want to read other books by the author.
I loved Tell Me Three Things It is a smart YA book with characters you care about and a storyline that keeps you guessing.
Before We Visit the Goddess engaged me. I cared about the women in the story and their relationships (grandmother, mother, daughter). The story was well constructed. I didn’t love it as much as the other three but I am glad I read it.
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine was a little wacky. The author was very inventive in this futuristic novel that explored themes like body image and societal values. I am glad I read it and I enjoyed parts of it but it might not appeal to some. Since I have had time to read a lot of books, I don’t mind reading one that isn’t my favorite but if I only had time to read a couple, this wouldn’t make the cut.
Although I enjoyed reading some of the others on the list more, the book that blew me away was The Chronology of Water, an incredibly raw, beautifully written memoir. The themes will likely turn many readers off. She explores sexual abuse, violence, sex, addiction. But even though so many aspects of her personal history are really disturbing, I never got the feeling that she was writing about these things with the intent to shock. At the end of the day, the facts of the story were only a small aspect of the impact of the book. The main thing that hit me was the writing. There is such an immediacy to the writing. It is poignant, funny, honest, raw and generous. She tells her story and invites the reader to experience the power of art and love as forces for healing and redemption. For the reader who can handle it, it is an amazing book, highly recommended.
Non-fiction: Favorite (a surprise to me) was Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. He is a wonderful writer but since the theme of the book is what I deal with at work every day, I didn’t expect to learn much but I did learn a lot about the history of long term care in our country and I was really moved by his humility in describing the challenges of helping his parents deal with his father’s end of life. I will say that his descriptions of aging in the early part of the book were hard to listen to. It puts aging in pretty stark factual terms, even for this nurse. But that was just a small part of the book. I enjoyed the second half much more. I listened to it on audiobooks which was great. I also listened to Five Days at Memorial about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on a hospital in New Orleans. It was very hard to listen to at times. So many truly horrific challenges for patients and the caregivers. As a nurse, I kept thinking about the nurses and doctors and the horrible circumstances of trying to care for patients and make the best decisions when no there were no good choices. My one complaint about the book was its length. The writer is a journalist and so she laid out all the facts but it felt really long to me, possibly because I listened to it. It might have been better to read the book (I read faster than most audiobooks). I enjoyed listening to A Walk in the Woods. I am late to the Bill Bryson party but his books are perfect for listening. They don’t require a lot of effort to follow the story, they are funny. I will definitely be listening to more of his books this year. I read Happier at Home in small bits mostly in the morning before work. It was the perfect book for that because there is no story line per se that you need to follow so you can pick it up and put it down. It was my first Gretchen Rubin book and I like her personality and her voice. I liked many of her suggestions and her honesty in talking about her own shortcomings. I definitely recommend it. I ended up buying it for my kindle because it was a MMD Kindle deal.
Audiobooks: in addition to the non-fiction audiobooks, I also listened to The Crossover, a compelling YA story that I loved. I was tearing up in parts of it. Great as an audiobook. And for a long trip to Maine, I got my British accent fix by listening to the second Harry Potter book (I read the first years ago and never read any of the others). I will be listening to that series this year as well. Perfect for long car rides. Great narration. British accent. 🙂
My to be read pile below. I am still working on making time to read City on Fire. I have actually taken it out of the library three times and run out of time. I am determined to read it this time but sometimes the 14 day books are a challenge to read in the two week time frame, especially when they are 900 pages 😦 What books are on your list?