It’s December! This has been both the longest and shortest year of my life. I used to look forward to the New Year, but I know enough now to know we’re not close to ending this nightmare of a situation yet.
I’ve thought repeatedly how lucky I am that I have a love of reading. This year, more than ever, I’ve been able to escape to a world that’s different than the one I’m currently living in. That has allowed me a “break” from the anxiety, stress, and fear of the current events.
I loved this article by Emily Temple about how reading backlist books has helped her get through the pandemic.
Now, nto the books I read last week!
Last Week’s Reads:
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
It’s been days since I finished this one, and I’ve been scared to try to put my thoughts to paper. I’m just so worried that I won’t do the book justice and I’ll fail to convince you to read this masterpiece. It’s truly a perfect book for 2020.
Let me start by saying that Backman has been a hit-or-miss author for me. I have loved the Beartown series, but I did not love A Man Called Ove. All of this to say that it took a long time to convince myself to pick it up, especially considering the mixed reviews I kept seeing. Because it’s a book that’s got a lot of buzz and is on a lot of award lists, I knew I needed to at least give it a try.
I’m so glad I did! It’s a brilliant study on human character and empathy and listening to each other’s stories to understand why it is we tick the way we do. It looks at how experiences shape us and how we all have something to learn and appreciate and understand about those around us. It’s thought-provoking and complex and deep – and it’s just one of those books you want to hug at the end. You will view the world and the “strangers” around you differently – and by differently, I mean with a little more compassion and wonder and an overall sense that the world is still good. It’s an experience and when you finish, you’re forever changed. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
*** A Burning by Megha Majumdar
I attempted this one at the beginning of the first Coronavirus lockdown, and I quickly realized that my frame of mind wasn’t right for this story. I picked it up again this week because I’m trying to read some of the big buzzy books from the year before I attempt to put together a Top 10 List (I am dreading this…I’ve read so many good books, I don’t know how I’m supposed to narrow it down to just 10!).
This book starts off strong with an intense opening scene. I was hooked and even more so when Jivan posts on Facebook condemning her country’s government. I immediately thought of all the posts I’ve seen on my personal FB account that totally call out our own goverment, calling our president and leaders derogatory names. My first thought was how grateful I am to live in a country that values free speech and allows its citizens to have a voice. My second thought was how scary it would be to live somewhere where you can’t.
As the story went on, it was clear that India’s justice system is full of prejudice and injustice (but really, aren’t they all?). I was sad for Jivan and disappointed in the few people that really had a chance to help her out, yet chose to save themselves instead (though I really couldn’t blame them for that decision either).
It was a cautionary tale about what we post on social media. Can this same thing happen someday in America, a place where many of us take our freedoms totally for granted? For that aspect, I enjoyed the book. But there was a lack of depth overall and it was easy for me to breeze through this book – I read it entirely in three hours – so for that reason, it probably won’t be a book that sticks with me beyond these surface-level reactions. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
*** Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
I started this one on audio because I couldn’t think of a better scenario than having Matthew McConaughey in my ears while I prepped food for Thanksgiving. It was a true delight to listen to this book, and through his uniquely told memoir format, I immediately bought the hard cover to keep on my shelves. I laughed, I sighed, and I sunk into deep thought multiple times throughout…McConaughey’s anecdotes have so much truth and relatibilty to them, that I know this will be a book that I read and reread for years to come. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
I am still enjoying this book, even though it’s turning into more of a marathon book than I first anticipated. My favorite parts are when Obama is being reflective. It reminds me of his steady and calm leadership style. While the policy parts are helping me reflect on his presidency and how it may (or may not) have contributed to our current political situation, they tend to get a bit dense and informational. I like Obama best in his emotions, but understand the straight-forwardness of his policy talk as well. I’m a little over halfway through this and I hope I have it finished next week. 🤞🏼
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
This book first came on my radar cleeeeear back at the beginning of the year when Jordan mentioned it on his Instagram feed. I kind of forgot about it until it recently resurfaced after it won the National Book Award for Fiction. I’ll be honest, I’m only about 20% into it and its already made me shed a tear.
DNF (aka: Not For Me and/or Skipping For Now):
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan
When other reviewers referred to this as a sort of Daisy Jones and the Six (which I loved!) read-alike, I added it to my Book of the Month box. I kind of forgot about it, but in an effort to tidy up my shelves to be ready for 2021, I decided to give it a try.
Unfortunately, from the beginning, the story felt off to me. The writing was elemetary and lacked any sort of hook to grab my attention. I DNF’d it at just 15% (the poor reviews and low rating on Goodreads didn’t help).