Saturday, May 16, 2015
The Best of What I've Read Lately
Have you read anything really good lately? During the last month I was afflicted with some weird fluey bug that made me feel tired and draggy and achy a lot of the time... so what's a girl to do? Curl up and read, that's my solution. Actually, that's my solution to a whole lot of things. So what'd I read, you ask?
I have loved every single thing I've read by Marisa de los Santos, and I can highly recommend her newest, "The Precious One." It's told by two half-sisters who share an eccentric and intense father. One sister felt abandoned when he left her mother and started a new family; the other sister, growing up being the apple of his eye, lives under his demanding scrutiny. As with all of de los Santos' novels, there was great writing, wonderful wit, characters to love.
I will confess that I put this book on my Kindle because it was $1.99 and sounded interesting. (If you have an ereader and haven't discovered Bookbub yet, go sign up right now. It's free. It's great. Go ahead, I'll wait.) But I loved "History of the Rain" by Niall Williams, I totally loved it. It's told by Ruth, a young bed-ridden girl who reflects on her life and her small town in Ireland and most especially on her father, who is best known to her through the books he has left behind. This isn't a fast plot -- in fact, one friend who loved it too described it as a book without a plot. But there is a thread and wonderful, lyrical writing, and so many gorgeous ideas about books and family and community. I discovered after I read it that it was long-listed for the Booker Prize in 2014.
These days, John Green is best known for "The Fault in Our Stars", which was a lovely, unexpected sort of book. "Paper Towns" is another of those. It's the story of Quentin, a teen whose last high school year is unexpectedly enlivened by an enigmatic girl named Margo. She enlists him in an unusual adventure, and then when she disappears later, Quentin makes it his mission to find her. (Spoiler alert: no one in this book has cancer, in case you were worried about that.) Green has a way of writing about teens that is true without being at all condescending, and he evokes that sense of being on the edge of adulthood, the confusion and freedom so beautifully. This was delightful and thought-provoking. Don't let the Young Adult billing put you off. (Added later: I just saw a commercial on TV last night for the upcoming movie from this novel. Hmm. Read it first, that's my advice.)
I'm a sucker for books about books and bookstores. And "The Moment of Everything" by Shelly King is another good one. Maggie, recently laid off from the Silicon Valley start-up company she co-founded, spends her now-plentiful free time hanging out at her favorite used book store. She gets involved in running a book club for high-powered Silicon Valley women, discovers some old love letters in an old copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover, and starts making the bookstore life her own. It's a pleasant novel -- not earth shattering or deep, but fun and interesting and heck, it's about a bookstore. What's not to like?
And you, what have you read lately that you loved?