Recent Reads

I’m on my third book of the year and it’s only January!  I know that’s not groundbreaking, but for me it feels impressive, exciting and so so good.  I’ve been a regular reader most my life but I feel like it’s taken me three years to really hit this stride I’m in.  This daily reading habit feels so essential to life right now ♥

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Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

This was our January book club read and it falls into that “not the worst, but definitely not the best” category.  It’s about a runaway who, to get out of trouble with the law, impersonates another girl who had gone missing ten years earlier.  If you’re thinking “that would never happen/work,” then I’m right there with you.  Sometimes you’re five pages into a book that’s so ridiculously implausible that you have to make a mental decision to overlook that, otherwise you’ll never get through the next 275 pages.

Redeeming factors: it wasn’t horrible writing, I steamrolled through it because I just wanted to see what happened in the end and it made for a lively discussion at our meeting.  It was also one of those books that I didn’t realize had so many plot holes and unanswered questions until 30 (we had a HUGE group this month!) other women pointed them out.  In other words, I’m not so sure I’d recommend this one.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I got this one in a book swap in December and when I put a picture up on Instagram, you all lost your shit!  Comment after comment telling me how good it was and I’d been wanting to read it for years so my excitement level was high.  And my expectation level was high too, so maybe that’s why the book didn’t blow me away.  Don’t get me wrong, I like it A LOT, but did I LOVE it?  Not exactly.

When you tell someone you’re reading a book narrated by a dog, you also have to tell them that this is an intelligent, well-spoken, soul-of-a-human type of dog.  I thought the voice Garth Stein gave Enzo was so wonderful.  He made him observant, understanding, relentlessly loyal and more sensible than a lot of actual humans are.  So while it won’t be joining the ranks of my very favorite books, it will definitely still be up there.

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84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This little book is only 97 pages long, but oh how many words it has inspired in me.  It compiles the written correspondences between a woman in New York and the employees of a rare book store in London, beginning in 1949 and lasting 24 years.  What begins as a request for a few books, turns into a rare friendship between Helene, her main correspondent Frank Doel, his wife, his neighbor, his co-workers and eventually his daughter.  Helene’s letters are so sharp, spunky and playful, even as a reader, you can’t help but feel attached to her.  She draws you in so quickly, as if you were an immediate friend.

It is so incredible to me how these relationships develop so easily and with complete sincerity.  From across an ocean!  The Londoners frequently and earnestly invite Helene to visit them and it is both wonderful and unbelievable to me that such a trusting bond could exist at such a distance.  Ain’t no way I’d invite someone I’d only interacted with through a letter to visit me and I’m trying to decide if that’s because we live in a less trusting world or if we’re just more cautious nowadays?  By the end of this, I was left feeling so heartened and heartbroken at the same time.  Gosh, I just adored it.

P.S. If you, like me, are a fan of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this reads like a shorter real-life version.

So tell me, what are YOU reading?

Friday Thoughts & Little Women

On our drive to work Joey asked me, “are you going to watch the inauguration?”  And you know what?  No, I don’t think I am.  Struggling real hard with watching and reading everything so that I can be an informed critic and not reacting with anger and disgust.  Let me know if you have the answers on that one, because I sure don’t.

In other news: new John Mayer out today!  Friday!  Fun weekend plans!  Lots of people posting Thank Yous to the Obamas ♥  But what I really wanna talk about right now is Little Women, in both it’s book and film versions.

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I finished the book last week and on Tuesday, I forced asked Joey to watch the 1994 version of the movie with me.  He kept saying stuff like “the 1949 version is on Netflix and the 1933 version is on Amazon” and my response was “WINONA OR BUST!”

I could probably go on and on and on and on about how much I loved the book.  How Louisa May Alcott’s writing was playful and entertaining but also chock full of wisdom and life lessons that I think stand the test of time.  I mean, it’s a classic for a reason.  The way she created those four sisters with their own paths and personalities was so incredible to me.

Not gonna lie, I was heartbroken when Beth died and inconsolable when Jo and Laurie didn’t end up together.  I know books don’t always end nice and neat the way you want them to, but I really really wanted this one to.  I would not have been mad at that predictability at all.

As for the movie, I definitely liked it, but I just liked the book so much more.  Christian Bale just rubs me (and Meg and Jo and Amy…) the wrong way.  But I will say I adored Winona as Jo and Susan Sarandon as Marmee.

In conclusion, here’s to the O.G. feminist, Jo March and to Louisa May Alcott for creating her.  It was 1968 and she was writing about a woman who was more interested in becoming a writer than getting married.  And at the same time, about a character that wanted to be a devoted wife and mother, because there’s nothing wrong with that life either.  Hell yeah to that!