2018 Reading List: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Every day, I look into the big endless depths of my dog’s eyes and I wonder what she’s thinking. I imagine that she’s grateful to have a warm, loving home. I imagine that my parents’ dog is her best friend. I imagine that she gets annoyed when we’re late coming home from work. She can’t articulate these things, but I write the story of her thoughts in my own mind, anthropomorphizing her.

I love books that do the same, in the same, realistic way that I would write it myself.

To be honest, I picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, at the library because I thought it was a book about greyhounds (which should be written, by the way). Instead, the “racing” was referring to car racing. But the book itself was still written from the perspective of the family dog. And it was perfect. Continue reading

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2019 Reading List: American Sniper by Chris Kyle

This is the second time I’ve read American Sniper, by Chris Kyle. If you know me at all, you’ll know that’s highly unusual for me – I don’t read books twice because there are way too many other books in the world that I haven’t read yet.

In this case, this book was chosen as the book for my book club at my new place of work. I started the book club here when I started my new job at the end of November, and I was thrilled that a few people said they wanted to read with me.

If it were any other book, I might not have picked it up again. I might have said, Oh, I’ve read that, so I’ll just wait till you all are done and talk about it later. But this was American Sniper. I remember loving this book the first time I read it. I remember feeling like my eyes were opened to this whole new perspective on war and combat and service – things I’d never truly considered before.

Many people have seen this movie, but I never have. I would love to, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But now that I’ve read the book twice, I can say that it was definitely a different experience each time. Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay

I went to the library to get the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I wanted to get into the Christmas spirit, to remember gratitude and appreciation, and to relive childhood memories of decorating the tree with this black and white film playing in the background.

I found the movie, but I also ended up checking out this book, titled Not That Bad: Dispatches for Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay.

Perhaps I was compelled to pick it up since I’d just done a self-defense workshop a few days before. Perhaps I’ve been feeling frustrated with reports of sexism and sexual abuse that seem to permeate the news. Whatever the reason, I opened this book, which was featured prominently on a stand near the library entrance, and I read the first few pages.

I wasn’t sure how to write this “book review” or if I should even write it at all. I was worried about whether my opinions would come across too strongly for this smattering of book review readers I have here. I was worried that the word “rape” might scare people off or worse, instigate a fight, a defense, a discussion.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that that’s exactly what we need, to change this rape culture. We cannot be afraid of the word “rape.” We can’t be afraid to talk about it, or voice our opinions. I hope we all have the same opinions. That rape is wrong, that no means no, that silence means no, that drunk girls aren’t asking for it.

I wrote a little essay of sorts in my journal after I finished this book, so I’ll write it for you here. Because whatever my thoughts are, those might be the thoughts of someone else too. And they just might be the thoughts that someone needs to hear. Continue reading

2018 Reading List: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Do you believe in love at first sight? How about falling in love in one day?

In The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon, Natasha and Daniel experience the romance of a lifetime – in the course of less than 24 hours.

Daniel is a poet and a dreamer. He thinks the world is beautiful and rich and often unexplainable. He believes in the power of love and the ability for the universe to bring people together. His older brother has made his life difficult. He is a Korean American, and his parents want him to go to college at Yale next year. He has an interview with an admissions counselor today.

Natasha believes in science and facts. She is 17 years old and wants to go to college to be a data scientist. To her, there is a reason for everything and there is always an explanation. Her best friend is currently touring colleges and she just got cheated on by her boyfriend. Her life seems pretty normal for a teenager, but there’s one problem. She’s an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica, and her family is being deported today. Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead

I feel strongly that women are meant to have a bigger role in our communities, education systems, government, and businesses. I love reading books about strong women. I love hearing about powerful women who create change. I know that the world will be better off when women no longer see and hear the internal and external arguments about whether and how they can succeed.

I believe all of this 100% and yet, I am still yearning to figure out how to create an impact of my own. I still have a strong desire to learn what it is that holds women back, and more importantly, how to communicate that to others.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware, was much more of typical murder mystery than my last murder mystery. This book was very much a “there’s a murder, I saw it, we have to find out who did it, oh it’s not who we think” type of mystery.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot. Murder mysteries hook me, keep me reading, and fly by quickly. This was no exception.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

I wonder if the author’s name should have been a warning.

I am still haunted by this book. I signed up for a self-defense class because of this book. Pretty Girls, by Karin Slaughter, contained every detail of my biggest fears and my worst nightmares. I read those gruesome details and then laid awake all night, afraid to fall asleep and dream those nightmares.

Not to scare you off or anything.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: The Bone Clocks

I feel like I’ve read five full novels in the span of 600+ pages. And when I finished, I Googled, “what is a bone clock” because after all that the meaning of the term and the title of the book completely escaped me.

I read The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell, with my office’s book club group, and though I can’t imagine fully summarizing it in any length of blog post, I will do my best.

This book spanned time, characters, countries, plot-lines, and reality in a way that riddles the reader’s mind and defies logic. One minute I was a stowaway with Holly, mad at the unfaithful boyfriend, the next I’m whisked through Cambridge and into Switzerland, cheating friends and mentors to make a buck, relying on wit and charm to get out of trouble, and then before I know it, I’m in the trenches, with shrapnel raining down around me, gunshots in the distance. And then we’re at a literary event, full of high society and esteemed critics, where a packet of drugs puts a friend behind bars, and then we get swept off around the globe where we meet the atemporal beings who live forever, reborn in the bodies of dying children, communicating through telepathy and stopping time. And at the end of it all, we’re 25 years in the future, surviving a near-apocalypse after civilization has wasted every resource and forced its citizens to resort to an ancient hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

I promise, this is just one book.

Continue reading

2018 Reading List: My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Right before I visited Salt Lake City, Utah, I read Elizabeth Smart’s memoir, My Story. I swear, I had no idea that Elizabeth Smart was from SLC. I know that the story of her abduction was big news at the time, but I was only 12 years old. I heard her name and vaguely knew the circumstances from the 5 o’clock news clips, but I wasn’t really familiar with the details.

That’s why I picked up her memoir.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Based on the title of this book, Truly Madly Guilty, by Liane Moriarty, I was expecting something intense. I was expecting murder. Or some kind of crime. I was expecting drama and suspense, passion and accusations.

There was some of that.  Continue reading