For as much as I love to read and consider it critical to my daily happiness, I sure am bad at blogging about what I’m reading. I always have this feeling that what I’m reading isn’t “relevant” if it isn’t what everyone else is reading (i.e. Gone Girl, 50 Shades of Grey, The Girl on the Train). No one has ever actually said that to me and it’s probably all in my head but come on, Wuthering Heights was published in 1847, so A) probably not on the Best Seller’s List and B) anything I have to say about it has probably already been said at some point in the past 168 years. Whoa, that book is old!
Still, I have read some things that were written a little more recently, so I thought I’d share those along with my future reads wishlist. Suggestions are always, always, always appreciated!
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
If you read the synopsis on the back of this book your first thought will probably be “Sounds like that movie with Jennifer Garner where they grow their son in the back yard.” Yeah, I’m talking about The Odd Life of Timothy Green (which I embarrassingly choked back tears during on a flight home from Jamaica…) and I wish I could say The Snow Child awoke those same emotions (except maybe not in public this time), but it didn’t. In fact, I’d say the plot took a major turn away from the direction I thought it was taking and ended up being nothing like Timothy Green.
Maybe it’s all in my mind, but when I read something by a first time novelist, I always feel particularly aware of it. That is to say, I feel like I can detect their uncertainty about their characters and where the plot is headed exactly. While I thought Ivey painted a beautifully mysterious setting and there were definitely moments here and there that felt magical, overall I thought it lacked real depth and originality. An unfortunate let down.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
I hardly ever read non-fiction but the plot of Brain of Fire sounded too Bell Jar-ish for me to pass up. And in the beginning, it really does read like some Sylvia Plath mental breakdown diary. Cahalan’s writing is straight forward but also poetic in a way. The latter being even more impressive when I learned that she’s a reporter and probably more used to facts and figures than flowery prose. There’s no better way to describe her writing than enjoyable.
About a quarter of the way into the book I realized her illness wasn’t self-fabricated or even a psychological condition. You learn later on that she’s the victim of an autoimmune disease that has her body attacking itself, something that is both incredible and terrifying at the same time. She does a good job explaining the whole thing in semi-Layman’s terms (though I’ll admit my eyes glossed over some of the medical jargon at times), being concise and subtly raising the issue of mental illness vs. autoimmune disease without turning the whole book into some kind of soapbox.
The whole book was incredibly eye-opening, fascinating (some of the things she explains about brain/body behavior is truly incredible) and thought provoking. That thought mostly being “how many people have conditions that with more time/research/financial resources could be cured, but without, are cast off as mentally ill?” I would highly recommend this book.
Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck
Currently reading! I picked this up on a whim because please save me, I’m Hemingway obsessed. So far, I like it okay but something about the fact that the two main characters refer to each other as “Papa” and “Daughter” when I am pretty sure they’re about to become romantically involved kind of creeps me out. Also European Hemingway > Key West Hemingway.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I just joined a book club that’s reading this and I’m already feeling disillusioned because I had to pick it up out of the Young Adult section.
Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Trying my luck with another fiction piece but it’s about food so it should be right up my alley.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Because I just remembered how much I love The Handmaid’s Tale.