It’s been a while since I’ve written a book post, and I’ve read a lot since my last one. So, I’ll just share few picks that include several I liked/loved and a few I ended up quitting. But first. . . I finished a special one earlier this week. Are you all familiar with Karianne of Thistlewood Farms blog? I’ve read her blog for years and only briefly met her in person a few years ago, and as you would expect from her writing style, her personality is contagious. Her new book is as much fun as I thought it would be.
In her wonderful conversational style, she writes about living the try-hard life, her personal downfalls and the grace that brought her through. It’s funny and sweet and honest. She also talks about her family’s huge leap of faith that took them from their roots in Texas to a tiny Kentucky town that just happens to be about 30 minutes from where I grew up. #smallworld
This would be a great book to gift to a girlfriend or anyone who needs a little encouragement–and a good laugh. Sound like anyone–or everyone–you know? The release date is just days away (Sept. 5th) and you can pre-order here.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain I just loved this one. It’s written from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, which in itself wouldn’t have made me want to read the book. But, this is a moving story of love and betrayal and heartbreak set in Paris in the 1920s. It drew me in, and I’ve downloaded this one (also based around Hemingway’s social circle) to read next on my Kindle.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd This is going on my top 10 favorites list. It’s historical fiction set in Charleston in the 1830s and is based on female abolitionist Sarah Grimké and her complicated relationship/friendship with her slave girl Hetty. It’s told from each of their perspectives and I was cheering for them both. If you read just one from my list, I’d recommend this one.
The Good House by Ann Leary I don’t read tons of modern day books but I do like Ann Leary’s style–entertaining without being too light. (I also read The Children.) This one focuses on a middle-aged realtor who is coming to grips with her drinking and unwillingly finds herself finds herself as the go-between in a small-town affair between an old family friend and a new real estate client. Despite the subject matter, it’s still humorous and a fairly quick read.
gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson I found this book at a thrift store at the beach and it was the perfect Summer read. There are a lot of twists in this book that deals with a murder, racial prejudice and family tensions in the Deep South–but all in the funniest of ways. I know, I know. But, I promise it’s a good one.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson So many of you recommended this book to me and while I liked it, I wouldn’t say I loved it. It’s endearing–the story of a widower and a widow and their new friendship that eventually turns into a somewhat complicated romance. I did really like the main character but felt like the book was a little slow overall. . .
Missoula by Jon Krakauer I also read this while we were at the beach this Summer and while I would highly recommend, it’s definitely NOT a “beach read.” This is one of those (non-fiction) books that’s terribly (emotionally) hard to read but feels necessary. It’s about the rape crisis in a small (football-obsessed) college town and how the criminal justice system there has dealt with (and often failed) the victims. The books takes you through several specific incidents and there are really terrible details to absorb. But still, I’m not sure I wouldn’t want my girls–and boys–to read this before they head off to college. (I’m glad I have a few years to think about it.) It was definitely eye-opening.
Okay, and I promised some books I’ve abandoned. I’m only sharing these because I would love to hear what you think if you’ve read them, too. . .
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders I was so excited to get this book in my hands after hearing about it on a podcast and reading a raving review online. The librarian even went on and on about it when I checked it out. You all–I have never felt so blah about a book since required Summer reading in high school. I don’t get it. Are people saying they love this book because they think it makes them seem smarter? There was nothing–and I mean nothing–enjoyable about it for me. I quit 100 pages in when I realized I’m a 40-year-old woman and there is no longer any “required reading” for me.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid I admit the main reason I didn’t finish this book is because it was due back at the library, and I just couldn’t get into it. I actually really liked the storyline but the characters felt far away to me. If a book feels like work, I’m trying to do better about just quitting and moving on to the next.
What have you read lately?
Find more of my book review posts here.
KariAnne Wood says
Thanks so much for the shout out friend. :) I love the books you mentioned—adding The Paris Wife to my book list!
Happy day rock star!
Just a word of caution about recommending Sue Monk Kidd in case you aren’t familiar. If you do a general search of her and Christianity, you will see her “evolution” from Christ follower to Goddess worshipper, and she is mesmerizing in her quest to have others convert through her writings. I could never recommend any of her books because of that.
Always enjoy these posts! A couple years ago I was privileged to visit a friend in Charleston during their Annual Home and Garden Celebration. We read “The Invention of Wings” prior to going on house tours. Charleston offers a Grimke Sisters Tour which visits sites mentioned in the book (or where they once were) and it really gives you a feel for the historical basis of the story.
I would highly recommend visiting Charleston in April for their celebration and the opportunity to learn so much of the culture of this area. It was amazing and the many events you can choose from are from many cultural and ethnic viewpoints.
Emily Clark says
I would love that!
My favorite line “I’m a 40 year old woman and there is no longer any “required reading” for me.” I’m a 50 year old woman and feel exactly the same! I often feel a bit guilty, especially if many people have loved the book, but why do I want to waste my limited free time reading something that I don’t love??
Emily Clark says
And that doesn’t only apply to reading ;)
Emily, love that you put this together for your readers!! I’m going to check out The Invention of Wings and Missoula.
Also, as someone who never enjoyed reading, I actually look forward to your summaries of these books and got hooked on a couple that you talked about a few months ago. Thank you for taking the time to give short, but detailed opinions on these books. :)
Emily Clark says
So good to hear!
If you liked Gods in Alabama then you MUST read Between, Georgia–also by Joshilyn Jackson. I love all of her books, but Between, Georgia is my favorite! You won’t be disappointed!🙂
Emily Clark says
Thanks. I have another one of her books on my nightstand now but I’ll have to check that one out, too.
I always enjoy reading your posts about books (I’m a middle-of-the-night-reader) and adding some of these titles to my list. Several years ago, I gave myself permission to “abandon” books that didn’t appeal. Time is valuable, right?! Thanks for the recommendations!
Karen T. says
Ha! I think we are book-twins! I abandoned both of those books too. I couldn’t get into either of them and didn’t understand the buzz (also The Girls, I thought that one was soooo bad.) Some good reads I enjoyed this summer–Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Rose Garden (it has a time travel bent which I’m not always into but I liked this one), The Stars are Fire, The House We Grew Up In, and It Ends With Us. Happy reading!
I can’t remember from your previous books posts but based on these I think you would really like Molokai and Hawaii, both by the same author.
My book club has been busy this summer! We read A Gentleman in Moscow, Hillbilly Elegy, and the Girl on Humingbird Lane. Right this minute I cannot remember the authors but I highly recommend all 3 books.
We have a lady in our club who at 100 said she did not have time for bad books. So we have taken her advise and try to find good ones!
I just read Lilac Girls. (Historical fiction based on WWII following 3 women in entirely different roles). I couldn’t. Put. It. Down. I do love history so it may not be for everyone. But the writing was fantastic…especially for a debut novel. It would be a fantastic movie.
You have some of my favorites here including The Invention of Wings and KariAnne’s new book. I so enjoyed reading it and bought the audio version for my upcoming road trip. KariAnne reading her book…what a treat that will be!
I also abandoned Lincoln in the Bardo. I did not make it through as much as you did.
Barkskins by Annie Proulx was a favorite of mine. It is longer than my usual reads, but I found it intriguing. I would recommend it highly. And if, by chance, you have not read Kristen Hannah” The Nightingale, please pick it up. It is one of my very favorites of the past few years.
I am so glad to hear someone else just couldn’t do Lincoln in the Bardo. I floundered through nearly four hours of the audiobook before deciding I just did not care what happened in the slightest! I think it’s getting such good reviews because of the unconventional format, though that’s just my opinion. (FWIW, I did like Exit West, but couldn’t tell you why. Right book, right time kind of thing maybe!)