For the first time in a long time, I am so stinkin’ happy March is over! Why? Because that means April, and hopefully, SPRING!! are here! After an unusually hard winter, I am craving sunshine and warm air…I hope it’s here!
I had some great reading this month. My favorite fiction book of the month was a hard choice, but I think I’m chosing 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World as the winner. It was so uniquely done, and the writing was engrossing and kept my turning the pages as fast as I could. Some amazing honorable mentions include: Go As a River and Rootless! Hands down, the best nonfiction book I read this month (and in a long time) was Invisible Child. It is powerful and emotional and I think everyone should read it. It shines such an intimate light on homelessness in New York City, and more compellingly, on the children of homelessness. It’s heartbreaking, but so very important.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Etaf Shafak
Tequila Leila is a sex worker in Instabul who has been stuffed in a garbage bin and left to die. As her heart stops beating, her consciousness slowly begins to stop as well – over the course of the following 10 minutes 38 seconds. Each chapter follows that timeline, one for each minutes, as Leila recounts key moments in her difficult and tragic life. We’re introduced to five key people in her life – her “water” family – and we see everything that has added up to become Leila’s life. I honestly went into this book totally blind, and I’m glad I did because I’m not sure the world Shafak created would have opened up to me as brilliantly as it did. What stood out to me the most was Shafak’s incredible writing. Her sentences created such a sense of time and being and insightfulness that I intentionally slowed down to savor every bit of it. Her characters were larger than life, and by the end of the book, I wanted them to be part of my found family too. One of the most uniquely told books I’ve ever read, I loved the emotion Shafak evoked from me and how she got the story to sink into my bones. I won’t forget this cast of characters anytime soon!
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott
This book is a nonfiction modern-day classic. The sheer amount of time Elliott spent with Dasani’s family gives this book depth and nuance I haven’t read before regarding homelessness (specifically in New York City), poverty, and the massive injustices of a broken social and legal system. What infuriated me the most about this book is that there are many, many families in the same situation as Dasani’s. The system that is meant to help them actually works against them, and while politicians run on platforms proclaiming they’re here to help and to create change, actually falls by the wayside once they’re in office. Is it because they forget, or because their policies aren’t good, or because we’re too far into a system that doesn’t work? I believe the answer is all of the above – and then some more. There were moments of judgment on my part, but Elliott also quickly humbled me by her own narrative and personal insight into such situations. I don’t have the answers to this massive issue, but I do appreicate the opportunity to learn, grow, and discuss. While Dasani will stay on my heart for a long time, I also know there are thousands and thousands more like her just in the United States alone and that knowledge will haunt me for a long, long time.
Rootless by Krystle Zara Appiah
While Efe and I are opposites in almost every way – she’s Ghananian, career-focused, and has never had a desire to have children – I was absolutely inthralled with her character! She is tough, independent, resilient, and doesn’t bend for anyone. Appiah captured the essence of her and her struggles so well, and as a reader, I had sympathy, empathy, and a whole lot of love for her. Sam, her husband, also captured my heart. While he had his faults (like we all do), his love for Efe was deep and true. He kept making the conscientious choice to try to understand and change his ways so that Efe and him could continue to grow in their love. Appiah is a wonderful storyteller and I absolutely loved her writing style. Seeing how this is her debut novel, we all have a lot to look forward to! (**Please know there are some content trigger warnings here…I didn’t mention them so as not to spoil the book, but please seek out more information if you are a sensitive reader.)
Go As a River by Shelley Read
This debut was a perfect genre mash up for me. Part historical fiction, part coming-of-age, part romance, and part love letter to nature. I fell head over heels in love with the setting (I am a native Coloradoan after all!) and the characters. Set in the 1940’s, teenage Victoria Nash happens upon a stranger that will change her life. We witness her grow from a motherless, indifferent young woman into a strong, resilient woman who is determined to save her peach farm no matter what. She faces obstacles head on and becomes a very determined person that is fully capable of handling things on her own. Honestly, I hesitate to give many more details because I went in blind on the advice of a trusted source, and I would offer the same advice to you. Let yourself be drawn in by Read’s incredibly lyrical writing…and just trust the process. It’s a journey that was well worth the anticipation; this is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. And now Palisade peach season can’t come soon enough…
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Full of memorable characters and experiences, this one totally came alive on audio! While it dealt with a lot of tough topics – grief, racism, trauma, abuse, and addiction – I quickly became absorbed in the complicated and complex lives of Misbah, Salahudin, and Noor. The part that stuck me the closest was Sal’s grief over losing his mother, and subsequently, his complicated relationship with his father. Something about Sal’s situation, his dedication to his mom’s dream of running a hotel in America, and the choices he made really pulled at my heartstrings. He is a character I will think about for a long time – even if the details of the overall story may fade.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
It’d be weird to say I liked this book, but I can absolutely say IT MADE ME THINK! In some near future, a virus has made all animal meat nonedible; therefore, animals have become nearly nonexistent. To replace animal meat protein, the government has introduced “special” meat to the diet – **ahem, cannibalism. Marcos works in a slaughterhouse while trying to survive the day-to-day of his incredibly messy life. It’s obvious that Bazterrica is making an analogy to how we treat animals as products to consume, but what kept me reading this very difficult book, was that dichotomy she so delicately presented. I’m a meateater through and through; I have no interest in becoming a vegetarian or vegan…BUT, wow, this turned my thinking upside down. When these arguments are portrayed with a human component, it really changes the way I think about my protein consumption. Will I stop eating meat? No. But this did make the wheels turn in my mind and I have found myself thinking about this story nearly every day since I finished it. This book would be one of the best book club books because there’s no doubt there would be A LOT to talk about and examine!
A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2) by Louise Penny
The second book in my Journey to Three Pines Readalong wasn’t as good as the first one. I struggled to stay in engaged with this one…for whatever reason, I felt like it was a jumbled mess. There were a lot of characters, and while I could keep up with those introduced in the first book, there was a whole extra cast that sort of added to the confusion (one in particular felt totally unnecessary). I loved the additional insight we got into what seems like will be the core group of characters that will show up in every book, and the slow foundation Penny is pouring to make these people part of our hearts is fun to read about. The setting of Three Pines is still making me want to move there asap. I get that with 17 books in the series, some are going to work better than others, so I’m eagerly awaiting my library hold for Book #3 to come in!
The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton
This is a book that shines a very bright light on the future we are facing if we don’t start to address some of the climate change concerns soon. In fact, it may very well already be too late, but Brooks-Dalton handles this issue with subtle enough realism that it feels like she’s talking about a not-too-distant future. I loved Wanda and Phyllis and they definitely kept my attention throughout the book. I know, without a doubt, that I am not made to survive the situations that Wanda adapted to after her home was hit by hurricane after hurricane. The waters rose and the infastructure that made Wanda’s home a town slowly disappeared until everyone has fled or has died. The story is sad and grim, but it really made me think how important someone’s home is and how that can be a source of comfort even when it drastically changes. While this book gave me a lot to think about, I wasn’t as captured as I wanted to be. My interest slowly waned as the book went on, and I mostly finished it skimming so I’d know how it ended.
The Quiet Tenant by Clémence Michallon
While I enjoyed this one for what it is, I was also left with a lot of questions at the end. It starts off quick – short chapters that are fully engaging and quite good! But as it went on, it slowly became too ridiculous for me. I found it unbelievable and I was extremely frustrated with a lot of the main character’s choices. I wanted to scream at her and wake her up…I guess I really prefer for my captured victims to be survivors and Rachel didn’t feel that way to me. I wasn’t attached to her or her decisions so that makes this one a hard book to love and recommend from me.
The Galveston Diet: The Doctor-Developed, Patient-Proven Plan to Burn Fat and Tame Your Hormonal Symptoms by Mary Claire Haver
Honestly, since I’ve been dealing with so many issues for so many years now, this book didn’t introduce me to anything new. But if you feel like you are gaining weight no matter what you eat, that you have low energy all the time, and your hormones are out of whack, this seems like just as good a place to start as any. The biggest takeaway for me was that I really need to try intermittant fasting!
12 Friends + 12 Books + 12 Months:
2023 Nonfiction Challenge:
Didn’t read any books for this challenge this month!
A Journey to Three Pines:
Hosted by Currently Reading Podcast.
3 thoughts on “March Wrap Up // 2023”
I was disappointed not to enjoy Rootless – the upsetting nature of the fracturing marriage outweighed the interest of reading about the Ghanaian British experience for me. A good reading month for you and I hope April is good, too!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m sorry! I hate when that happens!
Just found your site and love your recommendations. Thank you!