Welcome back to the bookish version of Six Degrees of Separation. Here’s how it works: Start with the book suggested by Kate over at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, and see where you end up by linking it to six other titles. It’s easy and it’s fun, and no two chains are the same!
This week’s starting point is Redhead By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. I haven’t read this one but as I perused some of the reviews on Goodreads, the main character was continually described as a quirky perfectionist. He is regimented and likes things to be very ordered. This description immeditely made me think of…
First Degree: …Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Like Micah, the main character from Redhead By the Side of the Road, Eleanor Oliphant is middle-aged woman who likes things to be extremely ordered and predictable. She is socially awkward, but when she and her co-worker, Raymond, help a man who has fallen on the sidewalk, a friendship quickly forms. Eleanor, the character and the story, leaves the reader with happy, feel-good feelings, and it’s a truly delightful read.
Second Degree: Another book I’d describe as delightful is The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. Tiffy needs a cheap flat quick…and Leon needs the cash. During the day when Tiffy is at work, Leon will occupy the flat, and then when Leon works at night, the flat will be Tiffy’s to use. Their friends think it’s crazy, but it’s the perfect solution for Tiffy and Leon. As time goes on, Tiffy begins leaving notes and food for Leon and a sweet friendship develops. I loved the writing and the characters and was taken completely by surprise by this one!
Third Degree: Speaking of sweet romances, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, also took me by surprise. Generally speaking, I don’t usually fall for romances but something about Stella’s quest to become more sexually confident (!) endeared her to me. Stella has Asperger’s and she is incredibly unsure of herself in the bedroom so she hires Michael, an escort, to help her out. Hoang’s writing captured me and I was totally engulfed in this story. (CW: the sex scenes are incredibly spicy, so if that makes you uncomfortable, this book is not for you!)
Fourth Degree: Speaking of other characters who are on the autism spectrum, my thoughts turned to Anika from The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves. Single and living in New York City, Anika runs into her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan, and their romance is rekindled. Alternating between present day and ten years prior, we discover what led to their demise the first time around. While I sort of found Jonathan’s character a little “too good to be true”, I was also hopeful that there really are men out there with his character given the circumstances of the relationship (no spoilers! 😉).
Fifth Degree: One of my favorite books set in NYC is City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Set in the 1930s, Vivian Morris sews the costumes for her Aunt Peg’s failing theater, the Lily Playhouse. Everything about this book is BIG – from the characters and their personalities to the vibrant scenes that Gilbert paints for her readers. As the story progresses, so much nuance and emotion is revealed which left a deep imprint on my heart. This is still one of my favorite books of all time and I think it’s about time for a reread!
Sixth Degree: Another book that captured my heart and lives on my Favorites shelf is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. In many ways, Vivian and Evelyn remind me of each other, and while there is some crossover in their stories, what I think stands out most about both of these books is the strong sense of characters and place. I felt like a fly on the wall with both of these stories – and that is one way to make me love a book forever!
Next month (March 6, 2021), we’ll start with Phosphorescence by Julia Baird.