2018 Reading List: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

I will be honest – my book choice for 2018 did not get off to a good start.

I received The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy, as a Christmas gift from my mom. Normally she finds amazing books, and we have similar tastes in genres and authors. I wanted to like this book. It is a New York Times Bestseller, it was on top reading lists, featured in bookstores, and it just looked like an interesting story.

But I didn’t love it. I struggled through the whole book with the Indian names and language. And honestly, I just got lost on the whole plot. I didn’t understand where everything connected, I forgot which characters knew each other or had relationships, and I was completely confused on the whole sequence of events. I tried so hard to pay attention and to get the story right in my head. The book jacket said that it was a love story, beautifully woven, fates entwined, lives braided together – but I just didn’t get it.

I could tell that it was a beautifully written book. I could tell that the author was a thoughtful, poignant storyteller. I knew that there was meaning behind the lives of the characters who had a history and a culture I could never truly understand. But this book was not for me.

I would recap it for you, but I’m afraid that I would do it an injustice due to my lack of understanding. Here’s a better review.

If you find that your book preferences have been in line with my own over the past year (see my list of 2017 books here), then you won’t like this book. But if you’re looking for an intricate dive into a different culture with a storyline that is full of metaphors and hidden meaning then you will find Arundhati Roy’s newest book to be very intriguing.

Have you read The Ministry of Utmost Happiness? What did you think? 

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2017 Reading List: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

This will be my final book in 2017. I read Two by Two, by Nicholas Sparks, because I was looking for something lighter, something less true and more of a story. A novel, not nonfiction, to end my 2017 Reading List.

I am not generally a Nicholas Sparks fanatic. I love The Notebook and Dear John. The movies they’ve made from his books are always pretty good- romantic, sad, and touching. But I’m not the type of person who reads every single Sparks book. I’m not always the sappy romantic type of reader.

Sometimes I am though. But I must admit, part of what made me pick up this book was that the main character works in advertising.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed has been on my list to read for a while now. I read Strayed’s book, Wild, a few years ago and fell in love with her. Cheryl Strayed’s tenacity and grit in the face of all her challenges and loss are qualities to be admired.

Before reading Tiny Beautiful Things, I had never read or heard of Dear Sugar. So without any background, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found was more than just an advice column. It was a window into Cheryl Strayed’s heart. The columns and stories she tells in this collection go deeper than right and wrong, this not that, yes and no.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make A Difference

There is no better book to read during the holiday season than one filled with stories of kindness, compassion and generosity. I read Chicken Soup for the Soul® Celebrating People Who Make A Difference at this time of year when it’s all too easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the holidays. This was the perfect book to bring me back to center, to focus on what’s really important and to remember that there is so much good in the world, even when the terrible news and headlines can feel overwhelming.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

This next title on my list of books is part of our office book club. This is the book we chose after none of us could get through “The Invention of Nature.” Quite the contrast.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini, is a young adult work of fiction. It was made into a movie in 2010, a movie which I have not seen.

When I first read the plot summary of this book and some reactions about it, I was under the impression that it was, actually, going to be a funny story. I thought there would be some dark humor, some funny quips, some comedic relief. Maybe some people saw it, but I didn’t. I just found it to be a somewhat sad story of a boy with depression.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Sarah Maas has returned to my reading list, at long last. She has again delivered a fantasy novel that I can’t put down.

When I finished Empire of Storms, I was a little extremely disappointed that the next book, Tower of Dawn, would be an off-shoot to follow the character of Chaol. I was over him, and I wanted more of Aelin and Rowan’s adventures.

But Sarah Maas never fails to disappoint. Reluctant as I was to continue with Chaol’s journey, I can see now that it was an important one. However, it took me a little bit to really get into this book. I felt that the beginning of it was a bit slow, and overall, there wasn’t a whole lot of action, until about Chapter 45.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

I finished the next book on my 2017 Reading List a few weeks ago, but hadn’t had the time or mental capacity to write my review until now. The second that the movie, Hidden Figures, came out, I knew that I had to read the book first. As I’ve probably mentioned, I find most books to be better than the movie, and I prefer to read them first, to imagine my own world and characters.

There was quite a waiting list for Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly, so by the time I downloaded it from the library I was really optimistic.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

As my coworker and I were browsing a bookstore while on a work trip (because we’re nerds cool like that), she saw this book propped out on a table and told me I just had to read it. But really, it’s been on my list for quite awhile now.

So after my heart-wrenching book about dogs who love their humans, I went to the lighter side with Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

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2017 Reading List: A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

As I write this, my dog is sitting on the couch next to me, looking at me with her big, soulful eyes. I spend a lot of time wondering what she’s thinking, projecting my human emotions into her animal mind, putting words into her wordless mouth. I can only hope that my imagination is even slightly accurate.

I imagine she’s full of love, adoration, eagerness, and some sass. I imagine she thinks we’re weird and crazy. I imagine she doesn’t understand how much we love her.

So I read the book, A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron, and I found out what he imagines when his dog looks at him with wordless, soulful eyes. And it was amazing.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: The Book of Joy

I read this book at the perfect time.

I had put a hold on a digital copy of The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams, months and months ago. I had no idea that this was such a sought-after book. I almost forgot about it, until one day, just before I left for vacation to Greece, I got an email saying the book had been downloaded to my account. Finally.

So I started my vacation to a new country, new culture, and new cities, with the words of two of the holiest, most compassionate people on the planet echoing in my mind.

“What is the purpose of life? After much consideration, I believe the purpose of life is to find happiness.” – Dalai Lama

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