I come from a family of readers. I’ve read myself to sleep every night for as long as I can remember. I prefer reading fiction and, its my cozy ritual of escape from the stresses of today and before I worry about tomorrow’s to do list. The more I have going on, the more I crave that escape into someone else’s problems, adventures and lessons. As I’ve gotten older and busier I discovered Audible.com and audiobooks. Some say that having the books ‘acted’ out removes your ability to interpret and imagine, but to me its still the art of storytelling and when you get a really good narrator(s) its a richer experience (ex: The Help). On the other hand if you get a shitty one, it will ruin the book for you (ex: Wild). When do I have the time? We’ll see how this changes as baby girl gets older but I listen when I drive, cook, workout and get ready in the morning and manage a few books a month. Now that she’s here I’m actually back to reading with my eyeballs again more. Long nursing sessions means I always have one hand free for my iPhone and I’m trying to read more books instead of constantly trolling social media.
I’ve been in a local book club for a few years with a wonderful, eclectic group of smart women that I look forward to every month. We mix up the genres every month and take turns hosting dinner at our homes. I love hearing their perspectives and mild debates we can get into, and why one person can love and another can hate the same book. I have a couple of friends that I do this with when our reading list overlaps, but I thought I’d start sharing here too.
Here are my favorites from this year (in no particular order):
State of Wonder I love Ann Patchett’s writing (Bel Canto is another must read.) Her prose is so descriptive you can taste, feel and hear the rich environments she’s writing about. This one is set in the Amazon rainforest and you really feel like you’ve been there when its over (not sure I need to go again now). I’m a sucker for a strong female lead, and there are several that you’ll love and hate in this book. It brings up questions of science and morality that I hadn’t thought of before while following the character on an amazing adventure.
Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.”
Still Alice Ugh. A book I kept seeing and avoiding until I saw the trailer for the movie with Julianne Moore this week. About a woman who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers at age 50, I thought the author did a wonderful job portraying what the progression of this disease must feel like. How a Harvard professor, one of the sharpest minds in her field, can’t slow or stop its progress and the helplessness for all involved is heartbreaking. As someone who is finding her way out of the fog of pregnancy brain, I scarily related to several of her lapses and her patterns of looking for things reflect my actual nightmares. It was a quick, compelling read and I recommend that everyone does read it. I think the main message of this book was awareness for Alzheimers, especially early onset and gives insight into the lack of resources and social acceptance there is for dementia.
But will I always love her? Does my love for her reside in my head or my heart? The scientist in her believed that emotion resulted from complex limbic brain circuitry that was for her, at this very moment, trapped in the trenches of a battle in which there would be no survivors. The mother in her believed that the love she hadd for her daughter was safe from the mayhem in her mind, because it lived in her heart.”
These Is My Words (Sarah Agnes Prine, #1) Goddangit this book is good AND I just realized there are sequels (yay!). Written like an actual diary by a pioneer woman setting up life in Arizona territories, Sarah’s character is so well-formed you feel like a friend to this brave, witty, loyal lady. Written with her own developing language skills you grow along with her through the crazy hardships of life back then. The men had it hard, but man, the women did so much physical labor just to put food on the table while often pregnant with children, I really can’t imagine.
Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule. Our children weight hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank,and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.”
The Signature of All Things Yes, this is the same author of the polarizing (in my circle) Eat, Pray, Love. I’ve always been firmly in the love camp, but Signature is a fictional novel, also with a strong female lead character (I think there’s a theme here). Goodreads summarizes as: “A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge.” I love a book that tells the story of a person’s entire life and the many turns one life can take. The idea of being born again through one brave choice, or the meeting of one person is so fascinating and inspiring to me. This story spans a couple hundred years and travels all over the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. It takes you into obscure worlds of science and spirituality and is another look at a woman breaking out of the societal norms of her time.
Well, child, you may do whatever you like with your suffering,” Hanneke said mildly. “It belongs to you. But I shall tell you what I do with mine. I grasp it by the small hairs, I cast it to the ground, and I grind it under the heel of my boot. I suggest you learn to do the same.”
Others worth reading:
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Love everything Mindy and she gives and entertaining look back at how she got her start.
Longbourn If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan, this is an interesting look at the perspective and lives from the servants living “downstairs”.
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage I love Molly’s food blog Orangette, she has the best voice and I wish she was my friend. We got to eat at Delancey (yum, yum, yum) this summer in Seattle and saw her and their daughter. I chose not to act stalkery and played it cool.
Big Little Lies Not the deepest of stories, but a playful mystery set amongst an Australian Kindergarten class. Made me dread playground politics in my future.
Follow me on Goodreads, I try to keep it up to date.