Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Due to a mysterious accident, Christine wakes up each morning not knowing who she is. Her husband, Ben, has to explain who she is and who he is. She goes through the day and then forgets it all by the time she wakes up the next day. But then she starts remembering things and writing notes down in a journal so that she can remind herself who she is. She starts to suspect that her husband is telling her lies. How do you get to the bottom of your life when you can't remember yesterday?

A super-thriller that kept me glued.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Addie and Louis are neighbors and both long time widow/widowers. Addie misses the late night conversations she had with her husband, so one day she visits Louis with a proposal. Would he like to spend the night sometimes just for conversation and company?

This short, tiny book packs quite the emotional punch. It can be easily read in an afternoon, but it might stay with you for awhile longer after that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Boomer saw that I was reading this book called The Vacationers and he asked, "What's it about?" I said, "A family goes on vacation." And Boomer said, "That sounds nice." But he doesn't know that the family is in quite a fragile place. The parents are contemplating a divorce even though this vacation is supposed to be a celebratory 35th wedding anniversary trip. The brother is in a not-so-great place and the sister is reeling from a friend's betrayal. This is all of the baggage that the family brings with them to the island of Mallorca.

The Vacationers is a pretty light, so-so read. It would be a great beach read.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is quite the saga. Ifemelu grows up in Nigeria where she falls in love with Obinze. She then moves to the US for university and eventually cuts off all contact with Obinze.

This story takes place over about fifteen years and we get the history of Ifemelu and we also read her blog posts which are humorous and truthful observations about race in America.

The ending was a bit of a disappointment. But I guess I am someone who actually enjoys ambiguous endings. This one was a bit too tidy and predictable.

Prepare to invest time (it's 500+ pages) and some heart into this reading experience. It's rich and well-written and will prompt you to think about some uncomfortable things.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans tackles the question of why young adults leave the church, and she uses her own story to help understand what's going on. I like her writing, and I like how she strikes a nice balance between theology and memoir and keeping it real.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

Kate is a music therapist in New York City and recently engaged to a seemingly perfect man. After their engagement, Kate starts having dreams about her late husband who died 12 years earlier and what their life would look like now if he had lived.

Harmel also wrote The Sweetness of Forgetting which was a bit unrealistic, so I liked that The Life Intended was actually a bit more believable. There's a bit more depth to this book compared to your average "chic-lit" book, and I had an above-average reading experience. A more quality beach read.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand

Adrienne bounces around the world from job to job and relationship to relationship and never settles down. Her latest move is to Nantucket where she starts working in a restaurant. Will she stay?

I didn't like the main character Adrienne that much, so that made it hard to like the book. But if I was on a flight or on the beach with nothing much else to read, I would read it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal was recommended to me by a friend, Huy, while Boomer and I were vacationing with him and his wife.

Gawande argues that the quality of life matters, even at the very end of life when modern medicine traditionally pulls out all stops to continue life. Gawande tells stories of family members and patients of his, and what mattered to them at the end of their lives, and the kinds of conversations that were necessary in order to provide them quality lives at the end.

This isn't a book that looks that fun to read, and honestly, it's not. However, it is important and provides a different perspective about how to care for older adults and why it matters.

Thanks for the recommendation, Huy!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

Here is a book that falls under the "book you chose because of its cover" for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.

In May, Boomer and I spent a weekend in a little town in northern California to attend my cousin's wedding. It was a beautiful wedding with little jars of homemade jam as favors. :) I got persimmon jam, and Boomer got spicy grape jam. Fun! My aunt was walking around trying to poach the persimmon jam from other tables. I slipped mine into my purse once I figured out what she was up to.

The Sunday after the wedding, we wandered around the little downtown area and browsed in a bookstore where this book caught my eye. I wrote down the title and checked it out from the library. By the way, this is how well Boomer knows me. Once we walked out of the bookstore, he asked, "Do you need to write down any titles in your notebook?" He knows that when I go into bookstores, I find titles that I want to check out of the library. I used to write down the titles while in the bookstore, but I got the stink-eye one too many times from bookstore employees, so now I remember them in my brain until I can write them down.

The author of this book, Marina Keegan, was a writer and very recent graduate of Yale when she died in a car accident. This book is a collection of some of her writings, both fiction and non-fiction. This was a heartbreaking book to read because Keegan's writing is SO good and it is so sad to think that her life was cut so short, and how many stories did she have in her that we will never know?

I really enjoyed her short stories although one of them (The Ingenue) left me feeling grumpy because of the ending. But isn't that a sign of a successful story? That we are emotionally engaged and touched. I usually don't enjoy short stories, but I really enjoyed Keegan's.

I am trying to figure out who I can buy this book for....:)