Recent Reads

Before I forget how to write anything but a weekend recap, let me talk to you about some books I’ve made my way through recently.  Mostly I want to tell you that, while it took me over a year, I finally finished reading The Stand!  By the end, I felt like I’d been on as much of a journey as all the characters and between finishing that behemoth and finishing my re-read of the Harry Potter series, it’s really been a year for me 😛

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The Stand by Stephen King

The backstory is that I agreed to read Joey’s favorite book and he agreed to read Harry Potter.  Fair’s fair.  And even though I kept getting interrupted, every time I picked up this up, it was like being greeted by an old friend.  It’s long but it’s all so expertly written and none of it feels unnecessary or purposeless or boring.  The characters (and there are MANY) are all so well-fleshed out.  There’s dimension and complexity that would be impressive if given to one character, but that he’s able to do it with so many characters truly blows me away.  Not to mention the plot.  It felt so genre-defining.  I’m so glad Joey pushed me to read this one because, whoa, what a book!

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

This book is so incredibly beautiful.  I tried really hard to explain what it was about to my mom and struggled because, though the actual plot of the book only takes place across a few days, there is just so much happening.  It takes places across generations, across cultures and across realms but it’s so seamless in its fusion of all these elements.  There is a supernatural element that never once feels hokey or out of place and I found the sense of unease and sadness that lingers over this whole story to be so moving.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

First and foremost, this is obviously a very funny title.  I felt like I had to hide the cover when I brought it into work but my friend Ari made the mistake of listening to it out loud at work and that makes me laugh every time I think about it.  There most definitely are erotic stories for Punjabi widows written out in the book.  Anyway, to me, this book felt lost between being a story about sexual liberation, the difficulty of being a second generation Indian woman and… uh murder?  That last part felt like it was tossed in as an attention grabber.  Like maybe the author or the publisher didn’t feel like a story about “old” (some of them are in their 40s!) women would be interesting enough so “we need to sensationalize it!”  As a result, the women didn’t feel well-developed — and some of them seemed like they could have been very interesting, if given the attention — and the main character, Nikki, just wasn’t that likable.  Still, it was a fairly entertaining read.

I just picked up I know this much is true (I’m formatting it as it appears on the cover, but not capitalizing all those words felt so wrong!) and it’s 901 pages long, so I guess I’m a glutton for long reads.  What are you reading right now??

Recent Reads

I have finished three books recently and haven’t even mentioned them… what am I doing??  What can I say except that I’ve been distracted by Marvel movies, summer daydreams and pondering what my dog is doing while I’m at work.

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I’d been wanting to read this one, so imagine my delight when it turned out to be our April book club pick.  I even won a copy of the book in our raffle!  Not going to lie, it is LONG.  And about three-quarters of the way in, it started to feel long.  But up until that point, I enjoyed it.

It begins as the story of a Korean girl moving to Japan and though her life remains a constant thread throughout the story, it does expand past her and manages to find a balance between telling the personal stories of its characters and the larger picture of life as a Korean in Japan.  I was completely ignorant to that narrative so I found this book so informative and eye-opening.  The characters go through so much pain and keep pushing on in such an inspirational way.  However, towards the end, there was A LOT of jumping from character to character and generation to generation in a way that left me wishing I was hearing about the characters I had spent the previous 300ish pages with instead.

For what it’s worth, the rest of my book club loved it!

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Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

I love a good coming of age story but they can be very heartbreaking and this one certainly is.  I’m at a loss for how to describe the plot of this book because, honestly, I was caught off guard by how it ended.  I’ll tell you that much of it is about a high school senior named Niru, living in D.C. with his devoutly religious Nigerian parents and their discovery that he is gay.  I cringed through the following chapters, where his father hits him, his mother takes him to church and then both parents decide a trip to Nigeria is necessary.

The story twists toward the end and the last chapters are narrated by Niru’s best friend, Meredith.  While I sincerely felt for Niru and didn’t mind the writing, the plot of this book felt a little too complicated to fit into such a tight frame.  I don’t regret reading it though!

Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris by A.J. Liebling

Can I just start by saying this memoir was not what I thought it was going to be?  It’s just over 150 pages but the language is smart and complex in a way that had me re-reading passages quite a bit.  It also gave me the impression of a work in progress that someone had pieced together.  Each chapter read like an essay that may have mentioned things from other chapters but could have just as easily stood on its own.  The first chapter could just have easily been the last chapter and vice versa.  Also, there was a lot of talk of food (and wine), but I didn’t find any of it all that descriptive.  Maybe I’m not cultured enough, but Liebling lists a lot of French dishes that I had no familiarity with and he offered no explanation, so I sort of glossed over it.

All this being said, I got absolutely lost in writing that seemed from another time and a version of Paris that will only ever exist in memories and that was a pure delight.

What are you reading?