What I'm Reading

posted on: Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's been a minute, huh? Every year, something happens around mid-May when the weather suddenly decides to cooperate and the sun comes out for the first time in months and all of a sudden our calendar becomes instantly and completely crammed full. It's like all of life's events manage to squeeze themselves into the three or four nice months of the year and there's not time for anything else... like blogging, for instance. Not that I'm complaining, after the winter we had I will happily take all the concerts, pool parties and cook outs life wants to throw at me.  But mostly all that it really means is that this old blog, (not to mention all the rooms of my house) might just be a little extra dusty for the next few months. 

But let's get to the books, shall we? In my last post on what I was reading I mentioned I had just started in on A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It was completely fantastic as I knew it would be. Just like the Kite Runner, it was beautiful and devastating and had me straight up weeping. Hosseini is one of our greatest modern day authors in my humble opinion and his books are just, so SO good. Definitely read this if you haven't already.

Next up, I read the Poisonwood Bible, which now I feel like I should have done a review right after I finished reading it and not two months later because I had a lot of feelings about this book while I was in the thick of it and now with some distance between us, they've sort of dissipated. This is the first book I've read from Kingsolver and upon reading it and subsequently researching her background I realized this book was, although a work of fiction, very autobiographical for her in the sense that she used her own familial and life experiences to shape the novel. The book follows a white, southern baptist family from Bethlehem, Georgia as they uproot their lives and head to the Belgian Congo as missionaries in the 1960s. This book is epic, for sure. What begins as a simple, single year long mission commitment for the family turns into a calamitous series of events that forever changes the course of their lives. It's much more than a personal, family story though. It's very politically charged, and often feels like a bit of a platform for the author to speak on. Not that I disparage her that, but it can get a bit distracting at times. You feel a lot of white guilt and disgust by American nationalism coming across the pages. Moreover, it feels like it's coming more from Kingsolver than any one of the characters on her pages. Like the author was using this novel to work out some inner conflicts of her own, like a theraputic exercise and we all just get to come along for the ride. I don't know, have any of you read it? I'd love to hear your take.

And then there was this one. Oh, The Fault in Our Stars, how I have resisted you. Resisted because a book about kids dying of cancer is SO not my cup of tea. But, with the movie coming out and everyone talking about it, I just felt really late to the party and didn't want to be left out any longer. So, I read it. I tried to stay very emotionally unattached as I read it, reminding myself it was just all made up - do not project these stories and characters onto your own children, Emily! I could do this. I would not let this book get to me! It was easy at first. The teenage drama and cheesy conversations were easy to roll my eyes at and I was doing ok. But then somewhere halfway through I became invested. Maybe it's because Augustus Waters is the most amazing fictional boyfriend since Peeta Mellark or it was that their unlikely trip to Amsterdam had the romantic in me swooning. But in the end, I was totally rooting for them. And crying. A lot. Got me again, YA. Got me again.

And now we come to The Dinner by Herman Koch. Coming off the emotional roller coaster that was TFIOS, I thought I'd read this next book as a treat to myself. It had come very highly recommended but I only had a vague idea of the plot. For some reason I thought I was getting a sort of a thriller/mystery that might be fun and exciting to read and what I got was anything but. I don't want to give too much away here, but this book really disturbed me. So much so, I didn't even want to finish it. All the characters disgusted me and it's one of those books that just really makes you question humanity. I can take a hard, depressing book (see, a thousand splendid suns) any day if you give me some glimmer of hope and at least ONE person with an admirable character. But this? Not happening. Not that this makes it a bad book, per se, but definitely a book not for me. 

And finally, The Lowland. It was good. It was similar to a Thousand Splendid Suns in that it follows it's characters from childhood through adulthood and it's all about family, political unrest, tragedy and what you make out of the life you're given. It's probably too bad I read it so soon after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns because they are so similar I kept comparing the two. And the Lowland just wasn't as good. Still worth a read though, and still very enjoyable.

So what else is good? I think I'm going to look for something fluffy and easy after this lineup. It's summer now which means it's time for some light reading, I think. Any good recommendations? As always, I'd love to hear!


  1. I am so shocked you read Fault in Our Stars! Not because it's YA but because you are very sensitive in those regards. I've heard so many things about it, but I am just not mentally good at reading cancer based books. Actually all of these books seem ridiculously heavy. I don't know if you use GoodReads, but it's a nice place to find books/see what is similar to books you've read.

    1. I know! I swore I wasn't going to read it, but I caved. I'll probably skip the movie though, not exactly a story I want to revisit any time soon.


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