Books – March Roundup

Cover photos (from left): ©2011 Random House; ©1983 Viking Books; © 2016 Alfred A. Knopf

Two things before we get into the book roundup – how amazing is it that I actually get to write this on the day that I planned for (Fridays), a day which also happens to be the last of the month?  Pretty great timing.  Not so great?  Getting cocky at the beginning of the month and listening to podcasts instead of audio-books.  This plan may come back to bite my reading goals in December.  Now on to the books!

FINISHED:

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

My super-well-timed book club book that let me fake my way through seeing the production of The Sun Also Rises.  A fascinating read, but also frustrating, as our protagonist Hadley (Richardson) Hemingway makes so many poor decisions and lets her husband walk all over her.  I know you can’t apply modern morals to historical stories, but it’s so frustrating to watch her going through what happens.  I was also fascinated to watch what was happening during the first sexual revolution happen in the 1920s.  Fascinated because it seems that not everyone was on the same level and perhaps not ready for sexual freedom and openness.

Also – it’s super hard with a historical fiction book like this where you can peek at the Wikipedia page and find out what happens.  I peeked too early, and it didn’t necessarily ruin the book for me, but it definitely changed how I viewed certain characters when I knew their future.

Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony by Lewis Thomas

Oh hey – I finally finished this book!  It was a super interesting read mostly because it was written in the early 1980s at the height of the cold war.  The first few chapters focus a lot on what the focus on spending so much of our budget on weapons and less on basic science does for us as a nation.  Which felt oddly prescient and appropriate at the time I was reading it.  There’s discussion of the use of nuclear weapons, and also the ethics of their use.  There’s slightly lighter stuff too, but this is mostly a highly regarded science educator trying to parse life in a world where it could all end at any moment on the whim of those in positions of leadership.  It’s also got a very bleak last chapter.  Interesting with some context, but perhaps too dark for some fun “science reading”.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

This was probably one of my favorite books I’ve read recently.  It’s the story of a young woman who moves to New York City (more specifically, Brooklyn) in the mid-2000s (the great rise in gentrification and hipsters) and ends up getting a job as a backwaiter at a prestigious restaurant in Manhattan.  There is a lot of drug use.  So many bad choices.  But it’s also an amazing look at what life is like as a server in a restaurant.  The behind the scenes.  It sort of reminded me of Kitchen Confidential, except this was from the servers point of view.  It was such an amazing hopeful read where you see changes and progress from the protagonist through the book, and then everything comes crashing down at the end and you wonder, “Is that really how it ends?”  But listening to it was generally a feast for the ears and a pleasure.

IN PROGRESS:

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

That’s right.  Non-fiction about the “science” of shopping.  Interesting so far, but starting to get a little repetitive…

And that’s kind of it for now.  I told you it was a shameful list.  Fingers crossed April allows for more reading…

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