Spring hasn’t been the best season for reading–I’ve been reading three books a month, which is a lot lower than usual. We did have a delightful trip to Parnassus Books while we were in Nashville where I bought two brand new books, something I so rarely do. It was a lovely experience and I would do it so much more often if we weren’t running out of space at home.
This is what I’ve been reading over the past three months:
Life & Other Near Death Experiences – Camille Pagan | It’s interesting writing these posts awhile after I’ve read the books… sometimes a book that you didn’t just adore reading really sticks with you. Other times a book you enjoyed is pretty forgettable. This is one of the latter. I didn’t know it was a “cancer novel” (or I wouldn’t have put it on hold) but it came in and it was and I read it anyway. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. The end.
A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman| Is it too early to pick my favorite novel of the year? Probably. But oh, this book was everything good. It was funny and sad, heartwarming and dry. I loved reading about the old man Ove and seeing his life unfold throughout the book. I don’t read a lot of books with significantly older protagonists and this made me want to read more.
My Kitchen Year – Ruth Reichl | I love cook books that are also books (see Bread & Wine and Dinner: A Love Story). This one didn’t disappoint. I was encouraged by hearing about Riechl’s journey through a hard year… and bookmarked several recipes to try.
We Are Called to Rise – Laura McBride | Another really good novel. I like the “lots of different stories converging” genre (along with the “kid gets through hard stuff with the help of a teacher” genre and “stories told through letters and/or emails” genre). This was set in Las Vegas and somehow addressed issues like PTSD, police brutality, immigration, and foster care while feeling incredibly human the whole way through. Highly recommend.
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me – Ian Morgan Cron | This was a reread. I read this book a long time ago (college?) and loved it. Lots of things have reminded me of it lately and I decided to read it again (something I very rarely do). It was even better the second time. It’s a pretty dark memoir about faith & growing up as an alcoholic’s kid. The end of the book tells a really beautiful story about the author’s children swimming in a rock quarry… I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice to say that it sums up everything I want for every kid I’ve taught, for my own kids one day — “to jump and not fall.” Read this one as soon as you can.
Night Driving – Addie Zierman | A raw look at doubt, burn out, and what to do when you don’t feel things anymore. I loved When We Were on Fire last year and was excited to hear Zierman was writing a new book. At times it felt like it drew a little bit too much from her first book, but it was overall real, honest, and compelling, so the repetition wasn’t too distracting. I would definitely start with her first book–if you enjoy it, read this one.
The Residence – Kate Anderson Brower | I’m really into the White House. I blame The West Wing (possibly my favorite show of all time). A couple of years ago I got really into JFK books (Killing Kennedy was my favorite). This book was (very accurately) branded as “Downton Abbey for the White House”–a story of life inside the most famous residence, as told by people who have worked on the domestic side for years. Their loyalty, professionalism, and love was compelling.
Everyone Is Beautiful -Katherine Center | I don’t read chick lit as a rule–but I make an exception for Katherine Center. Each time I read one of her books I’m reminded of why I don’t read chick lit (predictable, cheesy, etc), yet she manages to make characters so vulnerable and real that I’m always happy I read the book when I finish. Someone said it’s like “if Brene Brown wrote fiction” and I couldn’t agree more. Happiness for Beginners is my favorite of hers, but this one was good too.
My Grandmother Said to Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman | Full circle with this post–after I read A Man Called Ove in February, I immediately put Backman’s other novel on hold at the library. This one was a little bit more magical realism-y than Ove, but I really did love it. The companion novel Britt Marie Was Here came out this month and I’m patiently waiting on it from the library.