Even though life is crazy, I am doing more reading than ever thanks to my commute. Let me share some of what’s been on my Kindle lately…
Literary fiction-y first:
I have to start with The Goldfinch. Even though it’s not out for a few more weeks. Even though I doubt I’ll convince anyone to read it who wasn’t already eagerly counting down the days. I rarely get to enjoy and admire a book simultaneously, but this was one of those experiences. Donna Tartt wrote what may be my favorite book of all time (it’s certainly in the Top 5), The Secret History. The Goldfinch has some similarities (their narrators are certainly a lot alike, and the bigger-than-life personalities they encounter are, too) but mostly it has differences. It covers well over a decade of time, completely changes more than once, and is significantly longer and about a whole lot more. I don’t want to say much because I went into it absolutely cold and you should, too. I just have two things to say: One of its major themes is art and its importance and how we value works of art. And if you’ve ever wondered what Charles Dickens would write if he were alive today, this book is the closest I’ve ever seen by a long shot. It would make a great double-play with Great Expectations.
Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. I always mean to read Danticat but never do. Luckily the publisher sent me a copy of this one so I got to enjoy it. Danticat’s writing is lovely and involving, she builds a town in Haiti for you by creating a patchwork of lives and stories of those living in it. From the poor fisherman to the middle class shop owners to the wealthy, you get to see how they are all connected and the tragedies that touch their lives. This is both the book’s strength and weakness, while you get to see how all the lives fit together, you also move on to the next one just as you start to get invested.
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. If you follow literary talk, you’ve heard too much about this. And if you’ve held off because you’re tired of hearing how good it is, just go ahead and READ IT already. I’m so glad I did. I know a book set in North Korea may not sound like something you’re interested in. But you should consider it. Unlike so much of what I’ve read. Unique and amazing. Definitely one of my favorite books of the year.
And some books on the lighter side:
Help for the Haunted by John Searles. I love this book’s combination of coming-of-age story, murder mystery and creepy paranormal family weirdness. I feel comfortable recommending this book to pretty much anyone. Sylvie’s parents are evangelical exorcists of sorts, helping people find peace. So as you can guess, Sylvie is not exactly in the popular crowd. Her older sister Rose wants nothing to do with her family, but Sylvie doesn’t know what to think. When her parents are murdered, Sylvie decides to hunt down their killer. This is a great “creepy” October book that isn’t actually scary.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. So this is a more children-y book, but I loved The Graveyard Book so that didn’t give me any qualms. And while this is a short read, it is a lovely one. Great for people who may not have tried Gaiman yet.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is YA at its finest. Characters who feel completely and utterly real. Some of their problems are huge, some are small, but they’re all fascinating. Cath starts college, finds herself distancing from her twin sister, worries about her high-strung father who’s left alone, struggles to fit her fan-fic writing into her studies, figures out her weird roommate and deals with boy trouble. Once you start reading Rowell you won’t be able to stop.
Just finished Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. King fans, feel free to read it. Just one word of advice: don’t go back and re-read The Shining first. That may be King’s best book (I liked it so much more the second time, I really think it’s right up there for him) and Doctor Sleep falls into the “lesser” King genre. Just go into it for a quick ride into the unexpected, okay? Take my word for it.
So I read blogger Lori Duron’s book Raising My Rainbow because I was interested to see the story of another parent with a “gender-creative” child. But I just didn’t connect with this book. I have a long Goodreads review with my full opinions that could fill a few blog posts. It may be useful for parents with gender-creative kids who don’t know how to handle it, but as a memoir it’s not going to pull you in. Which sucks. I want more bloggers to write books. I just want them to write better ones.