The average dedicated reader in North America goes through 12 books a year. That’s one a month for those of you who haven’t read a lot of math books. I have you covered for the rest of the year with 5 books I’ve recently read and 5 books I’m gonna read. That even gives you one to spare in case you’re slightly above average.
Funny story. I’ve tried to sit down and write this post for the past 3 days and just haven’t been able to do it because my mind is on a book. It’s not that I keep leaving my post at the computer to go and read the book, it’s that I just can’t focus because I want to be reading the book. I didn’t even like the book to begin with. You know how you can read the first few paragraphs and know immediately if you’re going to enjoy a book? I read the first few paragraphs of this book and knew immediately I was not going to enjoy it. Not. Not, not, not. It was a stupid book and the writing was trying way too hard and it was just not my kind of thing. A math book would have been better. A book about a math book would have been better.
But because I paid for the book, felt bad for the writer who had put SO much wasted effort into their ridiculous, elaborately constructed sentences, and still liked the premise of the book, I kept reading. Because I’m a good human being like that. The sort of person who goes out of their way to help people, who sees the good in the storm clouds and who sometimes even shares her french fries. A. Good. Human. Also, I didn’t have anything else to read.
It took a few chapters to get past my annoyance. By the middle of the book I was shocked to realize I really liked the book. And by 3/4s of the way through ( the point I’m at right now ) I can’t stop thinking about getting back to reading it.
The moral of this story? I’m not sure. But I think it’s to never share your french fries.
There are three genres of books that I always gravitate towards: Circus folks, WWII and slavery. I’ve yet to hit a trifecta with a book about all three.
For me, the past year was a bit of a dud for books. There really wasn’t a single book that I went nuts over like I have in the past with Tell The Wolves I’m Home or We Were Liars (you can read about those in this post and this post.) But I did read some solidly good books.
SOLIDLY GOOD BOOKS
Click on the title of the book to read a more complete description or to buy it.
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County was one of my favourite reads from last year. It follows the birth and life of Truly Plaice. A recordbreakingly giant of a girl making her way through life in the small minded, small town of Aberdeen, New York. Just bordering on Magical Realism (Much like The Snow Child) The Little Giant of Aberdeen County confronts themes of body image and assisted suicide.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will convince you of two things. England has way cooler named little towns than anywhere else on Earth and … you’re never too old to do something remarkable. Retired beer salesman Harold Fry sets off one morning to mail a letter but passes by the letterbox and just keeps going. Suddenly determined to deliver the letter in person he travels by foot across 600 miles of England. What’s not to love about that?
The Remains of the Day is another pilgrimage through England, this time by car. The book follows Stevens, the quintessential English butler, as he travels across the English countryside in the last years of his fading career, reminiscing about and coming to grips with the truth of his past glory days. Set in post WWII England, The Remains of the Day raises questions about memory, perception, social constraints and the decline of the British Aristocracy.
Who Moved My Cheese O.K., here we go. A reader has been trying to get me to read the book Who Moved My Cheese for the past 500 years. It’s categorized as a Self Help book which might as well be categorized as a Hey Karen You’ll Hate This with All of Your Heart book. So I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. Years went by. Finally last year I bought it and when it arrived I realized it was just a little wisp of a book and I whipped through it in one sitting. It was like reading a comic book. And I will wholeheartedly now agree to recommend it to other people. The message in it is so simple and easily applicable to pretty much everyone on the planet.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry I forgot one other genre of books that I gravitate towards. I love books about books. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is one such book. A.J. Fikry owns an independent book shop in an out of the way seaside tourist town. He is alone and miserable until one day when a package that will change the course of his life shows up. BAM! You want to read it now don’t you?! And you should.
BOOKS I’M HOPING WILL BE GOOD
The Kitchen House I have a tendency to save books if I think I’m going to really love them. I don’t want the experience to be over. It’s like when you love a movie or television show so much you think I wish I could see that for the first time again! Knowing (or at least being pretty sure) that I’m going to love a book results in my putting it at the bottom of the pile time and time again. I’m doing that with The Kitchen House. The Kitchen House is the story of a 7 year old girl from Ireland whose parents die during their passage to America. Orphaned, she finds herself on a Tobacco plantation as an indentured servant working with the kitchen house slaves.
A Man Called Ove This is one of those backwards cases where I was aware of the movie but not of the book. I stumbled onto the Swedish movie A Man Called Ove over the winter and loved it with all of my heart. I included it in my Dinner and a Movie post where I paired unusual movie ideas with dinner ideas for your weekend enjoyment. Because as previously proven with the whole french fry sharing thing, I’m a good human being. It was in the comment section of that post that I learned the movie was based on a book. I bought that book.
Dear Committee Members I have absolutely no idea how or why I bought this book. I must have read about it on a list or heard about it somewhere but for the life of me I have on idea where or from who but from the description on Amazon I can’t wait to read it!
Eventide is the second book in a trilogy by Kent Haruf. I loved the first one Plainsong. Just the title of it evokes the emotion of the book and author Kent Haruf’s writing. Haruf was a bare bones writer who constructed his novels in the back shed of his house on a manual typewriter and his quiet stories of rural townspeople and their lives reflects that.
In a Dark, Dark Wood is a book I impulse bought at Costco. One review describes it as the next “Girl on the Train”, which isn’t a big selling point for me since I didn’t like the book and couldn’t even watch the movie. On the upside the back of the book jacket proclaims Reese Witherspoon liked it so there’s that I guess. It’s a murder mystery I think. Or maybe just scary. I guess I’ll find out and let you know.
As is always the case I expect you’ll be making and leaving your own recommendations in the comment section. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a book to read.