As I noted in my last Review Roundup, it can be difficult to write a full fledged book review for every book you read. For me, writing a short Goodreads’ review can be just enough. Because my last post was such a hit, I’ve decided to start doing a review roundup more often. Less pressure for me, more book recommendations for you! So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been reading lately.
This is my first Ann Patchett novel and I don’t know why. If anything else of hers is as masterful and beautifully written as Commonwealth, I need to read it immediately. I haven’t read anything with such command of its characters in a long time. Spanning 50 years, six children, and four parents, Commonwealth tells the story of all families — messy, unbreakable, and so broken all at the same time. Patchett perfectly captures the grief of losing family members, through time, distance, and eventually death. But she also shows the small joys of calling one another family. I felt like weeping at the end, but instead shed just a few tears. This is definitely a contender for my favorite book of the year so far. 5 out of 5 stars.
P.S. Kathleen read and loved Commonwealth too. Check out her review here.
It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)
I am obsessed with Nora McInerny. I listen to her podcast, Terrible, Thanks
for Asking. I follow her on Twitter and Instagram. I live in Minneapolis and am constantly keeping my eye out for this tall, blonde-haired lady who’s experienced more grief in six weeks than I have in my entire life. This book made me feel a lot of emotions, which are depicted appropriately in the book’s title.
While I haven’t experienced major grief, Its Okay to Laugh put into perspective how lucky I am. Multiple times I set this book down, looked up and around at my life, and found myself immensely grateful. The flow of the stories and how they related together didn’t always make sense, but it didn’t hinder me from reading this in two sittings. I personally like her podcast more, but this was another way for me to get to know Nora before I “randomly” run into her and bathe her in praises. 4 out of 5 stars.
Approximately two days after I wrote the above review, Joli and I attended a book reading of Nora’s at Subtext Books in St. Paul, Minnesota. To put it mildly, Nora was amazing. I got the book from the library and because I have terrible social graces, hadn’t purchased a book by the time of the book reading. But, you’ll notice I’m holding a book in my picture. That’s because Nora gave me HER copy. Like I said, she’s amazing!
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it (Sorry, Aubrey!). Having read so many WWII books, this is a good one, but not a great one. I always appreciate WWII stories that are told from a different perspective, and I did enjoy the three characters: Elsi, a teenager living in the ghettos of Poland; Willem, a Nazi doctor with a kind heart, but few choices; and Matilda, a Romanian 9-year-old who is given away by her own mother to be German-ized and adopted by a German family. The characters were well-rounded and yet, I didn’t find myself connecting to them the way I hoped. I liked the story, but found myself wondering what it was working towards, which made the 453 pages feel a bit drawn out. Overall, 3 out of 5 stars.
The Fortunes tells four stories of Chinese-Americans at various times in U.S. history. Each story showed a different perspective of what it’s like to be American, while feeling like an outsider in your own country. The book was thought-provoking and I appreciated stepping outside my comfort zone. I thought the stories connected to each other in smart ways, but were each different enough to provide a different experience. I liked some stories better than others, but they were all worth reading. 3 out of 5 stars.