April books

I started April strong on the book front, stalled in the middle, and regained my footing at the end. Lesson I keep learning: If I’m resisting reading a particular book, it’s because it’s not for me. And it’s okay to let that one go.

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OF COURSE this is taken from my real life, what are you even talking about? Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Unsplash.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvatar. This was the fourth and last book in a series, but the first one I read. Like, ever, not just in April. I must have heard good things about it because it made my “to read” list. This is one of those magic/teenager books that are popular at the moment, but you know what? The writing was good, the plot kept me interested and I didn’t seem to lose anything for coming in at the top floor instead of starting at the bottom. I’ll probably read the entire series just for something to do. (I’m no purist on my book choices. Give me entertaining any day of the week.) No regrets.

Educated by Tara Westover. (Nonfiction.) Where to even start? This book is absolutely fascinating — Westover comes from a large, devote Mormon family, was barely homeschooled, had her life endangered practically daily by her father and/or brother, was mentally abused … eventually went to BYU against the family’s wishes, where she had to learn basic things like hygiene and how to take a test, finally earing her Ph.D. after a serious bout of depression. So just, like, props to her for managing, seriously. What made this book hard to read, however, were the pages upon pages describing the messed up antics of her father. The guy is probably bipolar, but it’s infuriating to witness someone with so little regard for anyone else — who purposely puts his wife and kids in dangerous situations because he’s got a Jesus complex (and a unhealthy distrust of the government, medical care, even dance lessons). That’s abuse. I was glad to see that Westover finally escape and prosper, but damn! The cost of her education was so high. Definitely recommend.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. This was okay. It’s a book on writing and grief and dogs. No characters are named. I felt it was a bit too hyped, but eh, I made it through and it was fine. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend, but that’s more because of my personal tastes than anything else. It’s clever enough.

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. (Nonfiction.) Holy shit. This book crushed my soul. It’s nonfiction and well researched, but written in story form. That made it very easy to digest. I felt like I got to know the girls who worked painting radium on watch dials to make them glow in the dark beginning in 1917 — and it was devastating to see them suffering so greatly because of company negligence. Well, beyond negligence, really — calculated cruelty. What absolutely floored me was how, after everything these women went through to bring the company to justice, radium was STILL being used and other women STILL being exploited doing THE VERY SAME WORK as late as the 1970s. (All caps because WHAT?!) I mean, I probably shouldn’t be surprised. We think that businesses/government agencies have our best interests at heart, but most do not — the bottom line means more than human life. (If you’re charging almost $1,000 for two EpiPens, then you clearly value something, but it ain’t people.) So now I’m all fired up. Definitely recommend. Because knowledge is power.

Books I tried to read but couldn’t:

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I just … I didn’t make it very far into this book, which is too bad because I could have used a good distraction as I was sitting for hours at a time in the ICU waiting room with Eric’s family. I felt like the writing was fine and the storyline had potential, but got tripped up on the actual reading part. Not for me.

On my list:

I’ve got six on hold from the eLibrary — but it might take a while to get any of them (like, six months for some of these): The Wicked King, The Good Neighbor, Becoming (by Michelle Obama, I love her), Stardust, There There and The Invention of Wings (recently added to my list via a recommendation last month).

Which means I might just go on Amazon and buy something. Feeding the beast, but I love my Kindle so much. I think Abby has a couple of real books she wants me to read, but she won’t be home from school for a couple of weeks and I can’t wait that long. 😉 We’ll see what I settle on. There’s a long list of books that aren’t available via eLibrary that are in the running.

Now I want to hear about what you’ve been reading. Because I have plenty of room to add to my list.

March books (no joke)

Let’s start off on a tangent: How is it that February, the shortest month on the calendar, took 57 years to get through, but March was like 87 seconds? Time is a mystery, my friends.

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Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash. Incidentally, this is TOTALLY my life and how I read all the time! 😉

Anyway! March was a good month on the book front. Maybe a little TOO good — my eLibrary account really came through in the past couple of weeks and I have five titles lined up at the moment. Fun fact: If you keep your Kindle on airplane mode, they can check the books back in, but they can’t technically erase them from your device. I know, that’s totally cheating, but I promise I’m cheating with a pure heart. Uh, assuming that’s possible, I guess.

Here’s what I read, in order even:

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing by Merve Emre. (Before you have to ask, I’m an INFJ — introvert, intuitive, feeling, judging. They say it’s the rarest of all personality types, but I assume they say that to everyone to make us all feel like we’re special unicorns.) Well, Emre isn’t joking — it IS a strange history and it’s kind of amazing that the women who created it, a mother-daughter team, had it in them to be so persistent in getting the thing published. Emre is a skeptic on the personality testing front, and I appreciated that, actually — I felt like it gave her the ability to step back from the hype. One thing I hadn’t realized until I read the book is that according to Briggs and Myers, your personality is set the day you are born and it never changes. That seems weird to me, but whatever. Anyway, it was an interesting read and good to learn that the test is loosely based on Jung’s theories but is in no way scientific. I found that comforting somehow.

Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? by Mindy Kaling. After the craziness of Emre’s book, this book was a fantastic pallet cleanser: It’s hilarious and a quick read. I’m probably the last person on earth to read it as it came out in 2011, but anyway, I recommend this one if you need a laugh.

About a Boy by Nick Hornsby. How did I JUST read this book? I haven’t seen the movie, either. It was just so sweet and funny and great. It’s like the book equivalent of a fancy donut. Recommend!

An American Marriage by Tavari Jones. I suppose it was about time for me to read something more difficult after two fun-fests. This is a great book — well written and made me think about what I take for granted being a middle aged white woman married to the same man for 23 years. There were parts that were hard to take because it was difficult to accept the injustice of it all — for Roy, wrongly accused and imprisoned, and Celestial, who has to navigate life with her husband locked away. It’s not what either of them had expected, and the outcome isn’t, either. Recommend.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I think this might have been an Abby recommendation. One of those sci-fi/fantasy stories with magic and a gang of kids out on an adventure. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the sequel.

What’s on my list:

After about four months of waiting, Educated by Tara Westover has finally come my way via the eLibrary. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book and am looking forward to reading it.

I’ve also got The Friend by Sigrid Nunez and The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin lined up. I’m currently reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, but it’s the fourth in a series and, while all accounts point to this one being a stand-alone (whatever that means), I’ll probably end up reading the entire series just for something to do. More sci-fi/fantasy/kids on a magical adventure. I don’t mind.

Your turn: Whatcha reading?