Ah, a lazy Sunday!! A great day to read!
I've had a great reading streak since I last posted. The four reviews here were all fairly quick but enjoyable reads. I've now started our book club book which requires me to slow WAY down if I have any chance of understanding what's going on.
Otherwise, all has been well. Later this week I'm going to post some of the most hilarious things that people have asked or commented to me since I'm walking around with a watermelon under my shirt. People are so much fun, and I'm going to miss this daily source of comedy in my life when this baby is hacked out of my belly (which is still a million years away).
Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
Wow, this book was terrific. I’m not much for self-help, and I don’t have much tolerance for people psycho-analyzing themselves, but I DO love when I book can strike a wonderful balance of providing solid advice, personal stories, and meaningful insights to chew on for a while and potentially apply to our own lives. Kelly Corrigan definitely gets in right in Tell Me More, and I pretty much loved every minute of it. It’s a fast read, so check it out!
I especially enjoyed the section on “No.” She discusses how her mom unapologetically set boundaries. Not only did she say NO to doing anything that she didn’t want to do, but when her children became adults she asked them, as a birthday request, to stop venting to her about issues that she couldn’t fix. She was even saying no to worrying about stupid stuff. Incredible!
The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce
A super trippy read to devour over Easter weekend, as our protagonist searches for the meaning of life after his own brief death and resurrection. The actual storytelling was awesome, and I was right there for all of it, flipping pages and hardly putting it down. Some of the directions the author took the story, though, were pretty quirky, to say the least. I did enjoy the setting in the near future, though, and the idea that holograms will be all over the place once the technology is perfected. Will we be able to record holograms of ourselves so that our loved ones can see us again, sort of, after we’ve passed? What does the future hold that will help us to defy death?
I’m still processing this one, but I think I loved it. I think I would’ve loved it more if just a few more loose ends had been tied up within the ghost story. But it was great, and was a genre-buster with sci-fi, romance, ghost story, and some amount of spirituality.
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
I more or less read this one in two sittings. I don’t know why, but here lately I’ve chosen books that I’ve just been able to whip through like nothin! This was an easy read and incredibly interesting. I’d heard good things and I *loved* The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, but had been avoiding this a little bit because the premise just sounded trying. Intern sleeps with Congressman and blogs about it, is found out, and she suffers the backlash but he doesn’t. So I got a sense that this would be “She’s good but human, he’s bad, life is unfair in general.”
Instead I was delighted to find that the story is told from a variety of perspectives, which is always my FAVORITE, and it really helped shape this book into something meaningful and not so predictably one-note. Frankly, everyone is likeable but does awful and weird things throughout the 20-some years this book spans, and it’s actually a lot of fun.
Young Jane Young is nothing like Storied Life, other than it’s a fast and satisfying read.
Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling
Expectations: Hilarious, quick read that makes me like Mindy Kaling even more.
Reality: Hilarious, quick read that made me like Mindy Kaling even more.
I have to admit I loved the fact that Mindy didn’t even get serious about anything hardly at all. Sometimes these sorts of books have a “But seriously though…” chapter and while they can be illuminating, they have the potential to drag the energy of the book down. I especially enjoyed the chapter where she references society’s interest in her weight and she’s just like, “I don’t know, I’m not going to deny myself delicious food, I just can’t even imagine doing that.” I can relate to that 100%. She’s very “meh” about the whole thing, while understanding that everyone expects her to have this empowering or significant stance on her own body image. It’s just whatever, and she’s got things to do so let’s move on. But she makes this point in a hilarious way, and truly she’s LOL funny throughout.
Good stuff! Now I want to read her first book!
After I finish my book club book, which so far features lots of ice, I'm going to dive into a book about a band that other book bloggers all seem to love, so we'll see if it lives up to the hype.
What are YOU reading now??!?
I feel like I haven't blogged in a hundred years.
Last week I spent most of my time in the hospital with Vivian, who was dealing with a crazy UTI leading to dehydration. We experienced an ambulance ride and everything. It was an experience. I'm so glad she's better and back home.
She was in the hospital for three nights and I feel like it took another six nights just to catch up on work and home and cuddling with my family.
Veronica also turned 13 the day that Vivian came home and the next night I took four tweenies out to the nail salon so that they could all get acrylic nails that they'll likely break off within a week. As for me, I enjoyed some much needed relaxation with a pedicure and an EYEBROW WAX!!!
That's right, I had my crazy eyebrow hair ripped right off and now look like I'm a functioning member of society again. I told you I would keep you posted on that issue!
I also finished a few books since we last spoke....
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
This author was suggested to me here on the blog by my friend Laura, who said that this was one of her husband’s favorites of his books. While I do think I might try another of Murakami’s books, this story about a college kid juggling his feelings between girls (one in a mental institution and one who isn’t but needs to be) didn’t totally do it for me. I can tell, however, that the author himself is strong – so I’m excited to give another of his books a chance.
This was a really odd book to have been reading while stuck in the hospital with Vivian. It was super sexual and some of what’s described is a little nauseating. So it messed with my mind to constantly volley back and forth between nurses asking questions, holding Vivian, worrying about how she’s doing, and then pick back up with my mentally unsound characters engaging in wince-inducing sexual acts.
Not bad, not great. Intriguing. Looking forward to another go with Murakami.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
I feel like I’ve read a lot of fiction books about slavery and I feel so awful and weird saying this, but some of these Southern slavery books are so similar that it feels like a formula. These elements certainly mirrored real life (good black people, crappy white people, lots of beatings, usually some raping, often a white person or two who realize that this is BAD but they can’t really do much about it) but my God the stories are heavy to read over and over unless we’ve got some alteration to the formula. Same with all of these World War 2 novels with people falling in love with Nazis. Ugh, stop falling in love with Nazis! What a bad idea!
Sue Monk Kidd is a wonderful writer and in some passages she’s downright poetic. Her characters are layered and her pace is just right. And yet, The Invention of Wings was just – ok. The black people were mostly pretty awesome, the white people were mostly pretty awful, and a couple of them were able to at least try to speak out against slavery on a larger platform but truly didn’t make much progress (thanks to the patriarchy, of course).
This was another case of – I think I love the author, but this particular book wasn’t my world. Next!
The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
Now this one I really did like, even though I wasn’t sure it would really be my cup of tea by the premise – which is a mostly fictional take on the romance of Man Ray and Lee Miller. However, it was set in Paris in the 20’s and 30’s, with flash forwards to Lee’s life in the 40’s. She had a really interesting life – really I would say she led many lives, from Vogue model to photographer to fashion writer to war reporter to foodie. Certainly her time in Paris in the 20’s and 30’s was fascinating – specifically as she learned more about the art of photography. I did enjoy following her crazy intense romance with Man Ray. It was sensual and exciting until it was unhealthy and obsessive (which was also kind of exciting).
This author really knows how to set a scene. She certainly didn’t cut corners when it came to describing all of the various photographs and artwork that the readers must see in their mind’s eye to fully appreciate this book. So well done! I recommend, if you’re looking for something lighter (for example, if you’re coming off of a book about slavery) but that still has some substance.
I’m flying through a nonfiction/self-help (sorta?) book on my phone right now that you’re going to love.
Hooray for Friday! I hope you're all looking forward to a lovely and warmer weekend!
I'm back from my whirlwind trip to San Antonio. I had a great time - learned a lot, ate some good food, had some good conversation, and finished up three really solid books!
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
Recently I read Then We Came to the End by Ferris and decided I would try to read most everything he has written (unless it looks especially crappy). The Unnamed was super weird and I wasn’t even sure what to do with myself while I was reading it, because it was oddly addictive but tedious. The main character has this odd medical issue where every few years he has a spell for however many months where he is compelled to just randomly go on walks and pass out wherever. It’s a strange premise for a book and of course the real deal is: how does it impact his relationship with his wife, his daughter, his career, himself? What starts out as a medical/physical issue becomes a medical/mental issue and I felt like I slowly started to lose my mind along with this character. I read this on my phone during the AFP conference and was therefore moving quickly between learning more about fundraising trends to going on frantic walks around the country with my manic protagonist.
I might need a month or two to process this one. I think I kind of loved it. The plot was a bit jacked up, but the characters were good – and very relatable. The love story was intense and unusual.
I would recommend this to some of my reader friends for sure – just be aware that he walks a lot and he spins out and you’re going to spin out a little bit with him.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
As mentioned in the title, this book analyzes why people think what they think in regards to what is morally right and what isn’t. This was a fascinating book, and thank you to my old pal Steven Beatty for the recommendation. Pick it up when you have the time and energy to focus, as you really need to stay with the author to get what you need to get out of your investment of time in reading it. Occasionally it will read like a Psychology textbook, but then miraculously he will throw a delightful un-textbook-like curveball.
So much of what he shares makes complete sense, and I really appreciated his ability to be objective politically. As he concludes, he’s able to outline what the various political viewpoints bring the table in our society and the benefits of listening to one another and embracing this diversity of thought.
Good airplane reading!
At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider
I can’t sell my house and go on a trip around the world with my husband and three kids, but I can live vicariously through the experiences of someone who did!
Not only is this book SO MUCH FUN (because this family went on a trip around the WORLD!!!) but it’s well-written, introspective, funny and fast-paced. I was honestly exhausted after reading it because I felt like I was right there with them throughout their trip. I was so frazzled that I (they) had decided to take 3 youngish kids on this adventure. How insane! Yet what a gift!
I really loved this book. I also decided to follow the author on Twitter once I was finished up, simply because I liked her voice and how she approached life. This is something I rarely do, because I tend to put someone on a pedestal after reading their awesome book and then their tweets annoy me and the magic has ended. Or worse, what if your beloved author tweets something just really stupid and awful (beyond just a differing viewpoint but like a picture of their infected wound) and then you know you can never read any other books by them because you’ll simply be reading that tweet over and over and over….
At any rate, I urge you to grab this one and – if you’re like me – you will absolutely savor it! You’ll be thinking about it at all times until you’re finished. You’ll be trying to finish up your pointless report for work and counting down the minutes until lunchtime because you know that the family is headed to Africa next and surely they’re going to have some super cool experiences in Africa!!!
Up Next: I'm about halfway through our Book Club choice for April and it's great, but heavy. On my phone I've just started another book that someone recommended to me via this blog! It looks like I'll be getting my best book recommendations from YOU - so thanks!
What are your reading plans for this weekend?
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.