It’s been a week. There were a few times when I didn’t feel like reading (gasp) so .my word consumption is down a bit. I also found my way to BookBub – a friend pointed me in that direction, and in the odd way that the world is full of coincidences, I saw it mentioned in an article the next day. I signed up, logged in, an proceeded to collect something like forty books. I’m going to give them a try, even if none of them were on my reading list.
And speaking of the reading list, I think I’ve reached a point where it’s not going to be so easy to read for the PopSugar challenge. I’m about 50% done with the list and it’s early March, so I’m not concerned that I won’t finish. I’m sort of liking this whole share what I read thing, though. I’m thinking I’ll just read as I want to, put things on the list when they fit, and then share all of them. This week, though, everything I read fit the challenge.
A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
First, allow me to offer my humblest apologies to Mrs. Jackson, my English teacher for my last three years of school. I am quite sure that she’s the one who assigned this book that I only read the first two or three pages of. I know! How could a nerd like me have participated in such shenanigans? It’s straight up crazy talk.
The real craziness, though, is that this is an extraordinarily awesome book No wonder it’s a classic. No wonder it keeps getting assigned in English classes all over the US. It’s terrific, nearly timeless, and generally wonderful. I’ve read more than a handful of books that attempt to explain, through various methods, the “American condition,” and what it really feels like to be a certain type of person or a given age. None has ever gotten it quite as right as this. Salinger manages to create a character who is simultaneously light-hearted and depressed, who hates everyone but loves a few to absorption, who is bold and afraid. In other words, he shows us the ageless and timeless teenager, in a masterfully well-written manner.
I’m glad I didn’t read this as a teenager; I suspect it hit me harder and settled deeper than it would have thirty years ago. It’s a feeling akin to taking the glasses off of the nerdy girl and discovering beauty.
A book by an author you’ve never read before
While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin
If I was a giver of stars, this book would get 2.5. It was interestingly descriptive and fabulously well-researched. I’m a fool for historical fiction, the more accurate the better, and Austin hit the nail on the head on accuracy.
This is the story of what amounts to three families living in Brooklyn during World War II. Eddie Shaffer decides that he can’t bear the grief of mourning his dead wife and enlists in the Army, even though he has two young children. His assumption that his mother, a hoarder who is nearly immobilized by rheumatism, will take care of them is quickly shown to be false. The shy and overly-protected next-door neighbor of his mom, Penny Goodman, steps in and volunteers.
After a lifetime of thinking she’s in love with the handsome son of her neighbor and being afraid of everything thanks to her controlling and odd parents, Penny packs up a couple paper bags of clothes and moves into Eddie’s apartment. Esther, the older daughter, hates her immediately because she’s not their mom. The other child, Peter, has mysteriously stopped talking. The downstairs neighbor and landlord, Jacob, is Jewish and Penny has been taught to fear Jews. She’s got herself in quite a pickle, in other words.
It’s got the makings of a great story. I read it to the end, even though it fell down for me in a couple places. Many of the sub-plots were so predictable that, when they finally played out, I found myself thankful they were done and we would no longer need to hear about them. The bits and pieces that would have been pretty cool and interesting were repeated so many times that I actually spoke aloud to the book, saying things like “Yes, we know.”
It was a great story, the writing itself wasn’t terrible, but it was seriously redundant. 🙂
A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
I love Jennifer Weiner – she’s one of those go-to’s for me. If you’re curious, some of the others are Neil Gaiman, Wally Lamb, Sohpie Hanna, and Elizabeth Berg. There are more, but those are the ones that popped right to the front of my head. They all write consistently wonderful stories. They’re all excellent in-betweeners; authors that I know will bring me back to the center of my love of reading when I’ve drifted off to things that don’t necessarily knock my socks off.
In this book, Weiner tells the story of a middle-class housewife with an embarrassing habit: pain meds. We follow Allison through an often painful journey (unintended pun there) as she works through a habit that just might be an addiction.
Allison’s antics made me cringe, laugh, and cry. She’s a terrifically developed character and I can imagine running into her at the library, Yoga Flow, even A Little Bit Sheepish. She reads like every 30-something female’s friend. Her daughter is hilarious and her best friend is the perfect foil. I found to book to be gorgeous and hard to put down. It wasn’t quite the hug-it-to-your-chest-when-you-finish type book, but awfully close. I’m trying to decide what my favorite thing was, the single element that gave me the most joy in reading this, and I think it’s probably the arc that Allison’s character takes. In my head, it’s a nearly perfect sine wave: from dead center to the top, then crashing down past center and farther than she thought she could fall (I agreed with her), then climbing back up again. Her rise-fall-rise is just gorgeous.
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- Ordinary Life by Elizabeth Berg
- Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell
- The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
- Autobiography of a Pocket Handkerchief by James Fennimore Cooper
And a random note: I just discovered that last week’s book post got lost somehow. I normally create them early in the week and schedule them to publish on Sunday – I imagine something in that process got wonky. Since I write from four different devices (typically, more can pop in from time to time), I’m not sure where it could be. I didn’t forget to write it; rather I forgot to verify. Sorry y’all.