2019 Reading List: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

The next book I read for book club was one I would never pick up myself. Those always turn out to be the best kinds of books though, don’t they? It’s not that I would have had anything against this book. I just would have gone for other ones first. Maybe stayed on more familiar territory.

This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, is about a family whose fifth and youngest child is transgender. There may be some unavoidable spoilers in this post, just to warn you now.

This book was so terrifically written that there wasn’t a single copy available in the entire county. The wait list was a couple weeks long, though I got notified a copy was ready for me earlier than I expected, maybe because like me, people couldn’t put it down and finished it in just a few days. Continue reading

Advertisements

2019 Reading List: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Once again, I love reading about a futuristic world that could plausibly and theoretically come to fruition.

I am late to the game, but I honestly don’t know much about The Handmaid’s Tale phenomenon that is on Hulu. I don’t have Hulu. Pretty much all I know about it is Peggy Olson wears a red dress.

When I picked up this book, I actually anticipated reading historical fiction.

Funny, how Margaret Atwood takes us to a place in the future where we’ve actually reverted to the past, implemented archaic politics and policies and cultural norms, surrounded by the desire for power and control. Is that not where we’re at today?

We’re detaining children and separating them from their immigrant parents. We’re controlling women by controlling their access to birth control and prenatal care and, if they want it, their right to their bodies through abortions? We’re allowing gun rights advocates and activists to keep the laws unchanged that are allowing firearms into the wrong hands, the hands that shoot up children’s schools, places of worship, sporting events, and supermarkets. I could go on.

Instead, I’ll turn to the book. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

What would you do if your baby was kidnapped while you were at a party next door? How would you react? In The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena, Anne and Marco’s babysitter cancels last minute, so they decide to leave the baby at home while they go to a party, promising to check on her every half hour. They have a monitor with them and every time they check, the baby is fine. And yet. They get home after the party and the baby is missing. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book was fascinating.

I had Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on my list to read after seeing it recommended by a blogger I follow. It was insightful and eye-opening and poignant. It was also educational, but not in a condescending way.

This book follows the life of Ifemelu, who is from Nigeria. In the beginning of the book, and at various moments throughout, we get a peek into her present life: she is getting her hair braided at a new salon (in the U.S.) before she moves back to Nigeria. We don’t know much more than that at first, but the book slowly unravels her life, starting with the family and home where she grew up. In high school, in Nigeria, she fell in love with a boy, Obinze. They had a beautiful and frantic relationship, as most teenagers do, and then Ifemelu moves to America.

In America, she struggles to find her place. She struggles to find a job, to make friends, to meet good people. She never feels like she truly fits in to any group, but when she speaks to her parents, she no longer feels that she is a part of their Nigerian world either. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I read All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, by Bryn Greenwood, as part of my office book club.

In Greenwood’s novel, she explores flawed characters, dysfunctional families, inappropriate relationships, sex, drugs, child abuse, murder, friendship, and love. It sounds like there are more ugly things than wonderful things, in my opinion. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I don’t play video games, I don’t watch many movies, and I don’t know a thing about the 80’s. But I loved this book.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (now a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, which I have not yet seen), was a book that didn’t depend on your knowledge of literally anything in the book. Sure, maybe it would have been more relatable had I ever played the game Joust. Maybe it would have been more impactful had I ever seen the movie War Games. Maybe if I knew more of Star Trek than just the name.

But I don’t know those things, and yet, I found this book impossible to put down because the structure of it, the framework, the plot, and the characters were so real. That was the only thing that mattered.

They could have been playing completely made up games, just like the OASIS is made up. They could have been watching movies that never existed. It didn’t matter. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The second book selected for the MarketSpace book club was a novel titled, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. My co-worker who put this book on the list couldn’t remember where she’d heard about it, and after reading the synopsis online, the group was a little skeptical. But I told them at the very least we can all attempt to read it and if we don’t like it, we just stop. I’ve done that before.

So I downloaded the library book onto my Kindle, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to put this book down. The chapters are longer, so that also makes it hard to find a stopping point, but I just didn’t want to.

I will try to make my own summary of the book a little more intriguing than the book jacket. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

The saga has ended.

980 pages chronicle the battles that almost doom the continent. 980 pages to journey to the place where it all began. 980 pages of torture, deceit, strength, hope and valor.

980 pages had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I am always amazed that no matter how long the book, how detailed the journey, Sarah J. Maas always manages to tell a riveting story and the final installment of her Throne of Glass series, Kingdom of Ash, is no exception. Continue reading

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

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