This weekend I had a lot of time to devote to reading, so I finished off three books! I did some other things too, but not really.
In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
This is a chunk of a novel, but I was glad I cracked it (even though I read it on my phone so I actually just downloaded it, which wasn’t nearly as satisfying.) I’m not sure what I expected – probably not a lot of drama and intrigue in a novel about a group of Benedictine nuns, but I was mostly pleasantly surprised. The idea was to tell a story about how nuns REALLY are. It turns out that nuns are not larger than life but are in fact human beings who have very relatable struggles and sometimes do stupid or crappy things like the rest of us do. This was a quiet and satisfying book with some really lovely character development. The second half packed in more plot than the first half, so stay with it.
Pair with: lots of delicious coffee. The nuns were allowed to have coffee on occasion, but it sounds like the person brewing it did a horrible job. Apparently it was always gritty- yuck! Therefore, this book pairs well with grateful sips of some smooth coffee or espresso.
Then I did a total 180 with:
Home is Burning by Dan Marshall
This was a hilarious and sad memoir about a family dealing with ALS. It was definitely laugh-out-loud reading for those who don’t mind an average of one swear word per sentence (I don’t.) What I minded a little more, though, was the author leaning on some of the same jokes over and over. Repetition works, to a point. But the author was so funny that he brought himself a notch with, for example, placing a yogurt in his mom’s hand every single time he writes about her. Every time, she was in some various stage of consuming the only thing she could stomach – yogurt. This is funny and then funny and then funny and so on until approximately the 36th time and then you’re over it.
Aside from that gripe, I really enjoyed it. It was definitely pretty new for me to read something so funny about terminal illness. I frankly felt pretty cruddy about laughing so much, but there it is.
I was having a little trouble getting my head wrapped around one of his younger sisters – specifically how she looked. Plus, I wanted to know what became of her. So what did I do? Found her on Facebook! I’m now the creepiest person ever. Please don’t ask me how many pictures I looked at on Saturday night of people I don’t know. But I do know them! Because I read a MEMOIR about them.
Pair with: leftover lasagna, a dish consumed throughout the book, as apparently this is the dish of choice for do-gooders to bring to families dealing with terminal illness. (Mentioned 35 times)
How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage by Jo Piazza
Well, I’ll be damned. This book sounded pretty decent, I thought I’d like it, but I didn’t have high hopes. It was fantastic! How fun to learn about how different cultures throughout the world approach marriage AND to come away with some terrific inspiration for ensuring that my own marriage is the best it can be. I also thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Jo’s life and marriage. They’re both very real and super likeable.
I appreciated her journey. Jo shares that she is a feminist from the beginning, but her open-minded exploration of other cultures – and their ideas about good marriages, gender roles, equality, and tradition – help her grow as a person, and reframe her definition of feminism for herself. I respect this, and admit that I’ve got some new questions to ask myself in this same vein. Fun!
To be honest, I think this is a book I may have to read again in the coming years. I hardly ever re-read books, due to the number of books I still have yet to read! However, this was a fairly quick read and holy cow, I’m giving it five stars. Who knew?
Pair with: Loads of chocolate, which is both mentioned in this book and ironically what I paired it with since I was on an eating/drinking/reading cabin weekend with my mother, sister, and daughter.
Up next: Bitter Orange, by Claire Fuller - which sounds neither bitter nor orange, but is supposed to actually be a seductive psychological portrait. We'll see!
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.