July through December 2017
Title: Four Seasons in Rome
Author: Anthony Doerr
Date Finished: 7/23
Format: Hard cover
Ranking Out of 10: 9
Notes: Ah, so beautiful. Every sentence of this book was lovely. It’s a memoir of the author’s year in Rome while writing a novel, just after his wife gave birth to twins. I am not at all interested in children or parenting, yet even though the children are featured prominently in this story, I loved it and felt I could relate. That’s how well it was written. I was immersed in he and his wife’s experiences as foreigners trying to make Italy their home. And Doerr’s use of words made me pause many, many times to consider my own feelings or form elaborate mental images of what he was seeing.
Title: Hillbilly Elegy
Author: JD Vance
Date Finished: 7/25
Ranking Out of 10: 8
Notes: This was worth the wait in the library queue. This book is a unique look at the experiences of someone growing up poor in America, someone who should have been a failure and made nothing of himself. What makes it unique are the takeaways, what the author attributes to his ultimate success in life. So many decisions, big and small, combined with circumstance. His honest yet non-judgmental look at everyone around him is refreshing and valuable too. It’s a good sociological exploration of Appalachia written in a relatable and ingestible way.
Continue reading →
Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it’s no excuse.
As we lower onto the December-cold pleather seats of the minivan, we knock hands: both of us reaching to turn on the other’s seat warmer first.
We don’t get older, we just get more detailed.
…you spend an hour and half entering random search terms on the internet and posting on a half dozen What’s the Book? forums trying to find a book, whose title and author you have both forgotten, that you read somewhere between two and four years ago, and then suddenly you realize that you have this feature on your blog in which you track the books you’ve read and the missing book has been at your fingertips all along.
I agree to live now, live as sweetly as I can, to fill my clothes with wind and my eyes with lights, but I understand I’ll have to leave in the end.
January through June 2017
I didn’t read very much during the first half of this year. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve gone through a major life change and, as a result, haven’t had the concentration for reading that I normally do. I’ve set aside the printed word for a lot of Netflix binges. But that’s OK. Books aren’t going anywhere. Despite the grim state of civil liberties in this country we aren’t that Orwellian/Soviet…yet.
Title: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Author: Katherine Boo
Date Finished: 1/2
Ranking Out of 10: 9
Notes: Beautiful book about a group of slum dwellers in Bombay and how their lives affect one another and how they are affected by the politics of poverty. It’s hard to read at times – Boo does a great job of bringing you into the terrible reality of their characters’ lives, their struggles, and their brutality towards one another in the effort to improve their own lives. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, which is mostly why this didn’t get a perfect score. **Update: I found out about three months after I finished this that it is non-fiction. I have a hard time believing that. She knows too much about too many people’s lives and the dialogue and inner thoughts and retelling of certain situations is too vivid and real. There’s just no way half of this can’t be made up.
Author: Nathalie Sarraute
Date Finished: 1/21
Ranking Out of 10: 6
Notes: I read a few segments of this in an online flash fiction class I took a year ago and loved them. Very insightful little snippets into the lives of strangers. But I didn’t enjoy the book as much. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it, but most of the snippets seemed to abstract for me. As if they were just on the other side of the line between concrete and abstract. Some I loved – like the one about the women shopping – but others I just couldn’t get into. It’s only 52 pages, so I’ll most likely give it another chance some time. Continue reading →
So file me under acquired tastes; it may help you realize that some things are not yours to acquire.
But even as a child, she knew what this* meant – that it would only become more difficult to locate what you had lost, for the galaxy was yet breaking apart, and the stars, in their brilliant independence, were burning for no one.
*this = the idea that the initial explosion that created the universe was still happening, and space ever-inflationary
We feel around making sense of the terrain,
our own new limbs,
bumping up against a herd of bodies
until one becomes home.