Recent Reads

My new thing is carrying a book around with me — to the couch, to the hammock, to bed — then playing on my phone instead.  It still counts as reading, if you have a book near you, right??  The writing just enters your brain via osmosis, I think.  Okay, but in all seriousness, I have still been a lunch break/before bed reading machine and I finished these two books recently and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

As always, SPOILER WARNING!

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The Unseen World by Liz Moore

A lot of times, I think I have my mind made up on a book and then I go to book club, hear so many good points made by the other ladies in the group and re-think my whole opinion.  That was the case with this book.  I originally rated it four stars but after discussing it, I came to the very real conclusion that it had way too much going on plot-wise.  I went home and tried to give Joey a quick synopsis and 10 minutes later, I was DEAD SURE this book had too much going on.

It’s about a young girl (Ada) and her single father (David) who, very bright himself, raises her to value intelligence over everything.  He home-schools her and every day she works alongside him and his team in the computer science lab he runs, until Ada discovers her father has Alzheimer’s.  Suddenly, all sorts of questions about David’s past (that he cannot answer) come up and it turns out his name and all the stories he’s told Ada about his life before she was born were a cover up.  Factor in a secondary plot line about a virtual reality program, a love story and jumping back and forth between time periods and you have the makings of a unnecessarily complicated story.  Just writing that paragraph was stressful!

If this book had just been about a socially inept single father raising a daughter who had to navigate the real world once her father developed Alzheimer’s, I would have liked it so much better.  That being said, the relationship between Ada and David was really beautiful, the character development was well done and the writing was enjoyable so it really wasn’t a pain to get through this one.

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The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

One of my Read Harder Challenge tasks was to read a collection of stories by a woman and this one was only a few dollars on Amazon so I went with it and ended up LOVING it!  They’re all short stories so I could get lost in one over lunch and WHOA, did I love that.  I just kept thinking “why don’t I read more short stories?!”  The format is so approachable and I’d end up blown away by the plot/emotion that could come through in just a few pages of writing.

They’re, as the title suggests, somewhat like a fairytale, but also jarring and heartbreaking and delightful and never what you expect.  I didn’t love every single story, but I can genuinely say they were all interesting and some of them I straight adored.  Favorites were “The Rental Heart,” “Underskirts,” “The Broken West,” “Coin-Operated Boys,” “The Gracekeeper” and “The Light Eater.”

What are you reading right now?

Have you ever read a collection of short stories?  I’d love another recommendation!

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?