Don’t you just love obvious and straightforward titles? No bait and switch here, people!
As I was placing a hold on some books at the library (all while promising myself that I would finish my Book Club book before indulging in any other titles), it struck me that perhaps some celebration is in order on the reading front.
I joined a Book Club last year and have not only enjoyed the lively discussion and accompanying snacks on Book Club Night, but I have really appreciated that it has motivated me to read more. And to finish more books. (Not my forté – I tend to be a great starter of things, but not always the best finisher. Forthcoming post about how my husband and I just might be a match made in heaven because I’m the Starter and he is Closer.)
So! Since 2017 seems to be wanting for things to celebrate (insert all the cringe-worthy headlines I wish weren’t true) – I will share a brief recap of my reads this past year.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Biographies and autobiographies are probably my favorite genre, so I liked this one simply because I like hearing peoples’ stories. The downside, of course, of individuals’ stories is when people take one story and turn it into an example or template for everyone. (Tune into The Danger of A Single Story, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was simmering in the back of my mind as I read this book.) I thought this was a great story of this individual’s life (thus far – he’s only in his thirties, I think!).
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Oh me oh my I love this book! I would highly recommend the audio book, which is not typically my preferred way to read, but the narrator is excellent – and really helped make the characters come alive, I think. This one is long, and so so worth it. Another one of Verghese’s books is currently on my hold list at the library.
Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
This was heartwarming. A bit slow at times for me, but I really enjoyed getting to know the characters throughout the course of the book. I would classify this as an “easy read” – not too much critical thinking required.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
I did not love this book, honestly, and my Book Club really did not love it. I admit that I had high expectations though, because I’ve enjoyed other books by this author. I do find myself thinking about this book and its characters often, so that has to say something about the impact of the story, right?
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
A local author! Whose bookstore I have yet to visit, but have heard great things about. I enjoyed many parts of the complex narratives in this story, but I was also confused at times trying to keep people and names and relations straight. I was happy to have read it.
Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore, Ron Hall, and Lynn Vincent
I felt similarly about this book as I did Hillbilly Elegy – I enjoyed it, but think that there is a lot of risk in holding up this story of Ron and Denver as a model for how everyone should interact with homelessness or poverty. However, Ron and Denver’s story is valid, and this book caused really great discussion at our Book Club and with my Mom, who I usually give my finished books to – the ones I actually purchase if I can’t get them from the library in time for Book Club. In my (privileged, white) opinion, I thought this book did not do justice to the issue of systemic racism and how that intersects with poverty and the criminal justice system. But … it made me think and I’m glad to have read it.
Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
This book really captivated me! And not just because of the gorgeous cover. It did take a few chapters for me to really get into it, but once I was in – I was hooked. I really enjoyed the literary references and quotes from other writers and philosophers this book shared. I would like to add other titles from this author to my “Must Read” list.
Thank goodness for Book Club, because I know I read a few more books this year, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what they were. Stay tuned, because I’m compiling my Reading Wish List for 2018!