Hello, everyone! I hope 2019 has gotten off to a great start. I know I'm simultaneously counting down the days until I graduate in May while also enjoying all the wonderful, exciting opportunities I'm currently being presented with!
So I read a lot over the past few months and wanted to share my thoughts on these novels and collections. I'd love to know if anyone has read one of these or if you plan to!
The Unremarried Woman by Artis Henderson
A fun fact about me: I read multiple books at once. When I picked up this book, I was also reading five other books; they’re all vastly different (genre and story-wise), so I don’t get confused. Despite having so many books to choose from, I devoured this book within roughly six hours, over two days. I was working on a piece about PTSD and equine-assisted therapy, so I was looking for all books related to the military and came across this one. I cried two times, solidly, and a third time threatened. Readers (especially those who aren’t married to someone in the military and/or didn’t have a parent who’s been deployed) are given a firsthand account of what it’s like. We’re also shown what happens when that loved one is killed while deployed. It’s heart-wrenching. Henderson writes with such clarity—I had a few dreams that I was in her place...that’s how easily I was able to imagine the pain and confusion she experienced. I felt like the ending left us on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it was equally enlightening - another example of someone who survives immense grief and continues on their life journey. 10/10 recommend.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
MUST READ. Truly amazing work (as always). Relatable and heavily reported to reflect all sides and portray an issue that (as this work demonstrates) still exists in America.
Birds of a Feather by Lorin Linder (with Elizabeth Butler-Witter)
As I mentioned, I was on the hunt for a well-written nonfiction book about PTSD and our military/history, so when I stumbled across this book at my local library, I had to check it out. It’s was an incredibly interesting book for me simply because I know so little about birds; it was also eye-opening to see another example of how humans (especially those suffering with a mental health condition such as PTSD) connect so well with animals, even (apparently) birds.
Florida by Lauren Groff
Every week or so I get a few newsletters from my library about “The Best” nonfiction/fiction/memoir/etc books, and this collection of short stories made the list quite a few weeks in a row. I’ll be honest: Turns out I’m not a huge fan of reading a bunch of short stories, but only because Groff was able to craft such intriguing SHORT stories. When I would turn the page and see it was a different story, I became disappointed because I wanted the one I was reading to continue. That being said, she is able to create such detail, scenes, and plots in such a short space – truly a gift.
Love by Toni Morrison
I had a professor last semester who mentioned that she was asked to write a review of this novel within a day of receiving it. I read a few Toni Morrison books in undergrad, and like any book you’re forced to read and dissect because of class, I couldn’t really enjoy it for what it was. Morrison definitely makes you work to understand who’s speaking and what they’re saying, but I enjoyed the challenge. I will say that I did not enjoy the ending. It fell flat for me, and I was pretty disappointed. It’d still recommend the read if only because everyone should read at least one Toni Morrison book in their lifetime.
never broken: songs are only half the story by Jewel
I’m a sucker for a good inspirational book. (If you haven’t read Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff by the beloved Chip Gaines, then stop reading this blog post and go find yourself a copy.) My mom attended a convention last year where Jewel was a speaker and performer; after listening to Jewel speak, she bought her book so that I could read it. If you think you’ve had a rough life, consider leaving home at 15 and then being homeless. Jewel’s life was full of some serious sh*t that I’m incredibly grateful to have never experienced. What makes this book remarkable is the way she dissects the moments, the way she tells a story, and the one-liners and alternative ways of thinking. She ends the book by doing a deep dive into some of the trains of thought and sayings that she has lived by throughout her life. The wisdom and insight that this woman has (and is willing to share with us via her book) are worth remembering (and applying in your life).
when I lost you by Kelly Rimmer
I could. not. stop. reading. this. book. From the second I finished the first page, I entered a battle with myself to read this book as fast as I could (not because I had nothing else to do, which was partly true, but because the story was so addictive). Although I always skim the last page of a book after I read the first chapter, I’m still committed to finding out what happened to the characters and how they ended up there. This book will tug at your heart and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll definitely cry. It’s a book worth reading. (Excuse me while I go see if any more of Rimmer’s books are available at my local library.)
Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich
I have no recollection of how I came across Janet, nor how long ago that I started inhaling her books, but I have all 25 Stephanie Plum novels as well as the handful of seasonal short novels that accompany the series. I read 75% of this particular book on Christmas and finished it the next night. The books are filled with humor and ridiculous (and relatable, in a weird way) characters. Janet also has this innate skill of recapping relationships, important scenes, and character’s descriptions in a way that doesn’t get annoying in the 25th installment (I think that’s a real talent). PS: I've recently gotten my mom hooked on the series as well!
The Best American Food Writing 2018 edited by Ruth Reichl
I was first introduced to the “Best American” series during undergrad, although then I was reading works of nonfiction rather than what everyone seemed to think was a cookbook simply because it said “food” in the title. I purchased The Best American Food Writing because I wanted to see how descriptive and detailed the authors were; writing about food presents such a challenge, and I wanted to learn how they used language. What I discovered was not only this use of language and vocabulary, but also so much about literally anything related to food. (My favorite inclusion was an article about The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.) This series is a great resource for writers looking to better their craft as well as readers who simply want a well-written and thoroughly reported story.
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
I really liked this book. I loved that each chapter was told through a different point of view, without being confusing. I think the characters had unique, varied voices. I’m going to be honest, I did not like the ending. I still 10/10 recommend reading this book—it’s just so well-written and captivating—but I’d love to hear what someone else thinks about the end!
Hindsight by Justin Timberlake
I requested this book from my local library after seeing it appear on the best-selling nonfiction list; when it went to pick it up, I thought I requested the wrong thing. The book is massive. Turns out, there are hundreds of high-quality photographs and artistic choices made within the pages of this book that make it so large. The most stunning parts of this book, though, were the words and their substance. JT has such a beautiful way of looking at life, and I encourage everyone to give this quick-and-easy, yet thoughtful-and-provoking book a read.