First off, apologies for the lack of post on Wednesday. I was sick, and in no state to write anything. This month was obviously slower than last. But the good news is that I’m still ahead of the game according to Goodreads, and I’ve got a vacation coming up, which is always a good time to do some reading.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
This was a book I’d heard about a while back, and all I knew is that it had won some big awards for science fiction, the author is a black woman (which is helpful to know when you’re trying to read books from a more diverse group of writers), and that was about it. It turns out this book does some immense world-building, and there’s elements of magic in it too, but it’s all done in a new way. As in, it’s geologically based, and it’s fascinating. I love the way this idea of this magic has integrated itself into the language of the world. It took me a little while to get my bearings in the story, but once I did, it was so worth it. Of literary note, it has a fascinating structure where there are three stories told at once, but they are each told in a different persepective: one in first person (i.e., “I did this”), one in second person (“You did this”), and the last in third person (“She did this”). I’ve never seen that done, and the way the stories related to each other in the end was something I sort of saw coming, but also did not. Highly recommended.
10% Happier by Dan Harris
I think I borrowed this book thinking it would be more of a “self-help” thing, but it turns out that it’s definitely not what this book is. This book is the memoir of a national newscaster (one I’d never heard of?), and relates specifically to his experiences with meditation. Because as he will tell you in the first minutes/pages of his book, the way to get 10% happier is through meditation. It’s an interesting book, and one that makes me want to get back on the meditation bandwagon if I can find the time/motivation to do so. But it helps to know what you’re getting into before you get into this one. Not that the news memoir is boring – it’s not. It was just wholly unexpected.
Educated by Tara Westover
This book is crazy-go-nuts. I’m not sure there has been a book that I have yelled at as I drive (since I listen to audiobooks) so much as this one. The number of incidents described in this book that made me cringe, or shudder, or drop my jaw in disbelief is ridiculous. This book seems to be a part of a new sub-genre which explains “the other” to those of us who read memoirs. Like Hillbilly Elegy, author Tara Westover gets out of a family and a place where there aren’t a lot of opportunities. But in her case the family is LDS preppers in rural Idaho who are manipulative, abusive, and seemingly reckless. The number of times the family decides not to take advantage of modern medicine (and the kinds of situations where they avoid it are the times that made me shudder) is astonishing. Particularly fascinating in light of the recent measles outbreak, since vaccines are one of the things her family rejects, and this book gives you an idea of why some of those families now are not vaccinating their kids.
IN PROGRESS/IMMEDIATELY NEXT:
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
Haha. Didn’t finish it – in fact, I was so behind that I was reading in the car on the way over to book club last week. Luckily as I said before, it’s short stories, and I’ve gotten a little further into it, but it’s almost like it was made for reading in chunks. The stories that I’ve finished have been really good and thoughtful, and I’m about to read the title story, which won all kinds of awards, so that’s exciting. This will be excellent plane/hotel fare.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
I added this one to my list because it was on all kinds of “best of the year” lists either last year or the year before, and it won the Pulitzer Prize. So that’s cool. Also, it turns out the book is partly about travel, and I know that the last stop on the story’s itinerary is somewhere I’m going to visit soon, so that’s something to look forward to!
I have a bunch of books downloaded to my kindle, and will download a few more audiobooks to take with me for plane rides/etc when I’m on my trip. Keep your fingers crossed that Baby Girl sleeps decently while we travel so that I can get a) some sleep and b) some good reading done.