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.

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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

2018 Reading List: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

There is something liberating and empowering about a strong, bold fictional heroine. Nevermind the fact that her strength lies in her ability to create chemical weapons that torture her targets and kill her assailants. This heroine in The Chemist, by Stephenie Meyer, may have had an unconventional career, but her independence and tenacity are undeniable.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

Welcome to the Garden, a wondrous, magical place where it’s always warm, the sun is shining, the waterfall lulls you to sleep, the grass is lush, you have friends and books and games, you have healthy food to eat, and all the time in the world to do as you please. But this, my friends, is not the garden of Eden. This is your nightmare.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

I was about to head out on a flight to Kansas City, Missouri for our annual company meeting and I needed to quickly grab a book to read. That’s usually how it goes, right? So I had The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer on my shelf and threw it in my bag. After the first five minutes of reading the first chapter, I thought I’d made a big mistake.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Why would you want to live in a town where women keep (allegedly) drowning themselves?

That’s the first thought I had as the story behind Into the Water by Paula Hawkins unfolded.

This book is a murder mystery by the same author of The Girl on the Train. A woman is found dead in what is known as the “Drowning Pool” – a section of river surrounded by cliffs where the water is calmer. There is a history behind the Drowning Pool. Women have been committing suicide here by throwing themselves off the cliff (hence the name) for years.

But wait – were they all suicides? Is Nel’s death now a suicide or something more sinister? Nel wouldn’t kill herself, right?  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

You all know the story of the Titanic (at the very least, you know the movie) – the British ship that sunk in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg, killing over 1,500 people. You might have heard of the Lusitania – the British ocean liner torpedoed by the Germans in 1915, killing almost 1,200 people on board as it sank. But you probably haven’t heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. At least, I hadn’t.

Which is absolutely insane, because the estimated number of people who died in the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945 was over 9,400 people. Picture the terrible, gut-wrenching scenes from the Titanic movie where people are screaming, crying, tumbling off the deck, flailing in life jackets, freezing in the icy waters – and then multiply that six times.

It is a travesty that people, particularly in the U.S., do not know about the sinking of a ship that resulted in the largest loss of life of any ship sinkings in history.

So now that I’ve made my point, if you too have never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff, go read Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I hate books that get tons of hype when they first come out, and books that are lauded simply because the author’s last book was a success. Luckily, Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green, wasn’t one of those.

John Green wrote the now-famous book, The Fault in Our Stars, which was later turned into a movie that was filmed in Pittsburgh. I saw Green’s new book displayed on every table in Barnes & Noble and prominently featured at the end of an aisle in Sam’s Club. I kind of didn’t want to buy it, just because I thought the bookstores were over-hyping it.

I ended up getting it for my mom as a Christmas gift and read it after she was finished.

This book is a very insightful look at mental illness and anxiety among teenagers. The main character, Aza, suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. We got to be inside her mind, see how she views the world, experience the things that cause her anxiety the way she sees it. It’s always an interesting perspective to me.  Continue reading

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? 

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