Here you go, just in time for the dark winter months…
*Where the Past Begins, by Amy Tan. Excessively wordy and dry. I skimmed a lot, especially towards the end. Also: what’s up with the huge paragraphs? They’re not easy to read or fun to look at, so why?
*The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott. Pristine writing. Slow, meandering story. Pretty good.
*Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. Interesting and kind of fun, but the plot flaws and underdeveloped/inconsistant characters bugged me.
*The Maytrees, by Annie Dillard. So bewilderingly dense that I felt, at times, like I wasn’t even reading English. Summary: one-third I didn’t understand, one-third I sort of understood, and one-third connected on a deep, deep level. Weird, huh?
*The Great Starvation Experiment: The Heroic Men Who Starved So That Millions Could Live, by Todd Tucker. Interesting and informative. Also, it made me hungry.
*The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister. Food porn — over-the-top and light — but fun.
*The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard. Excellent, though I didn’t get all the plane stunt stuff.
*Educated, by Tara Westover. AMAZING. I devoured it in two days, mostly while sitting on the patio of our little vacation house in Vieques [dreamy pause], and then the three younger kids read it, too (though not while we were on vacation — we’re not that efficient). Nuanced, gracious, and raw, it’s perhaps the best memoir I’ve read, ever.
*The War Against All Puerto Ricans, by Nelson A. Denis. Stupendous, eye-opening, and extremely well-written. Reading it while in Puerto Rico and struggling to understand the messy relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico (and while attending church with the grandson of Pedro Albizu Campos, no less) made the book feel just that much more relevant. Highly recommend.
*Call the Midwives: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times, by Jennifer Worth. Entertaining, and surprisingly similar to (at least the beginning of) the TV series, but so poorly written.
*The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd. Fun and engrossing. The storyline was unpredictable and low-key, and therefore unsensational, which I liked.
*Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah. Entertaining and eye-opening — he has lived such a wildly varied life. I’m considering buying it and making it required reading for the older kids.
*Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love, by Zack McDermott. Written by a lawyer with bipolar, this books makes for an interesting connection between mental illness and the prison system. Also, the vivid writing helped me to understand not just what bipolar is, but how it feels.
*Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison. Great story-telling. Insightful. I made it required reading for the older kids. (Warning: it may inspire certain readers to blow things up.)
*A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines. I didn’t much like the main character, and the flow felt stilted, but the ending was super powerful.
*A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert, by Karen Piper. A personal, informative account of the war-making machine, but as a story goes: meh.
*Speaking with Strangers, by Mary Cantwell. Beautiful, fluid writing, but I did not “get” her at all.
*The L-Shaped Room, by Lynne Reid Banks (the abridged version, because that’s what my mother had lying around the house). Interesting.
*The Power, by Naomi Alderman. Pros: Intriguing concept and good writing. Cons: Weak plot, underdeveloped characters, repetitive, and lacking humanity and nuance.
*The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Insightful, multi-layered, and relevant. After reading it, I bought a copy so the older children could read it. The girls both loved it.
*Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. Super fantastic. Incredible. Exquisite. Delicious. Felt a little Barbara Kingsolver-esque. My husband and I fought over it who got to read it and when (I started it first, so I got dibs.) I inhaled the entire last section, came up gasping for breath, and then was so worked up (in a good way) that I had trouble sleeping.
Currently, I’m reading four books: Becoming (having trouble getting into it), Salt, Fat Acid, Heat (ordered it!), A Gentleman in Moscow (I keep having to take it back to the library and then get it out again), and The Wife (a whippy-fast page turner).
Now, your turn! What good books have you discovered in 2018?
This same time, years previous: balsamic-glazed roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts, sex for all creation, old-fashioned sour cream cake donuts, the quotidian (12.22.14), the quotidian (12.23.13), bacon-jalapeno cheeseball, marshmallows.