Yesterday I finished reading my 10th book of 2016. I am really enjoying watching my TBR list shrink! And so far it has not at all been tempting to add new books. Here’s a break down of what I’ve read so far.
Scary Close by Donald Miller is a dead useful book about relationships. Miller talks a lot about his dating relationship with his now-wife and his personal growth in self-awareness and vulnerability. His books are very personal and Scary Close definitely is not an exception. I learned a lot from this book about the kind of person I am in relationships and about the kind of person I want to be. I appreciate Miller for writing a relevant, gospel-informed book without ever quoting Scripture. (Nonfiction)
Sometimes the story we’re telling the world isn’t
half as endearing as the one that lives inside of us.
– Scary Close, Donald Miller
Demon’s Heart by Emily H. Bates is a young adult (my favorite!) adventure. It’s about a young boy with a crappy past and a prophecy and his new friend and a journey. My favorite quality in a fantasy writer is being able to describe unfamiliar/made up locations without going on for paragraphs about the way it all looked. Bates described the settings quickly and well so we could all move on to the action. (Young Adult, Fantasy)
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was like nothing I’ve ever read before. It’s about a girl who never dies. She keeps living the same life, but with the free will to make different choices and with a faint premonition of tragedies from past lives (and consequently the desire to do certain things to avoid those tragedies but not understanding why). It’s literally just written life after life and I loved it all. It really got me thinking about how one or two choices or events can really change the trajectory of your life. It also got me thinking about how many ways one can die. (Science Fiction, Historical Fiction)
A little whimsy never hurt anyone.
– Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley sounds like a fun little fairy tale about a boy who becomes a “water baby” which is basically like a miniature mermaid. What it really is is a super long story about weird things that happen to this weird water baby. About two chapters in I just wanted it to be over. It won a literary award and is classified as a classic, but I was definitely not a fan. (Children’s Fantasy)
Being quite comfortable is a very good thing;
but it does not make people good.
– The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd seemed to be a disappointment to many after the smash hit that was The Secret Life of Bees. It definitely disappointed me! Well, it half-disappointed me. (SPOILER AHEAD!!) The book is about a woman who goes back home to this tiny island to care for her crazy mother. On the island is a monastery full of monks (as monasteries are wont to be) and a mermaid chair full of memories (as I suppose mermaid chairs are wont to be). The women ends up “falling in love” after a mini conversation with a monk. If I could roll my eyes, I would do so every time someone falls in love after one conversation. (Then I’ll totally write a short story where that exact thing happens because I’m a hypocritical romantic.) I myself LOVE love. I eat up romances like they’re Oreos. But I do NOT love adultery (because the woman is so totally married), especially when it seems to be celebrated and necessary and justified. So that whole part of the story did not sit right with me. But the other half of the book is about the crazy mother and finally telling the truth and closure and memories and relationships and all good, hard, brutiful stuff. (Fiction)
So few people know what they’re capable of.
– The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen was described on GoodReads in bold as “hilarious and moving,” which really set my expectations high. Too high, as it turns out. Last year I read my first memoir, and then promptly read like, seven more. I loved them. They were all hilarious and moving. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress was neither hilarious nor moving. It was, in my humble opinion, a little pretentious (she just writes like she knows she’s smarter than us), and definitely repetitive. Plus there was never a mention of a little black dress even once! Talk about a let down. (Memoir, Audiobook)
MIDDLE OF THE PACK:
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley was amazing. Fantasy + Historical Fiction is my new favorite genre. This story is about a man who just gets caught up in an event, a person, and a relationship. I loved the reality of things (a convenient marriage) juxtaposed about the magic of things (a clockwork octopus). On a completely unrelated note, do you ever read a book and just have a feel of the author the whole time? Not in a bad, transparent and poorly written story kind of way, but just in an author’s presence kind of way? The whole time I was reading this I thought it had been written by a man. Of course that could be because the main character is a man. It could just speak to Natasha Pulley’s expertise at writing from a man’s point of view. Anyway, it was great and the only reason it didn’t make it into the top three was because it was a little long. Some parts I could’ve done without. (Fantasy, Historical Fiction)
The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister would have totally been in the top three if the magician’s lie had been a better one. The whole story builds and builds and we go back and forth between present and past and I’m totally jiving and then the end gets squashed in there and the lie turns out to be pretty insignificant. Something I’ve been doing lately is imagining how a book could have been better (which I realize is pretty bold – and not necessarily in a good way – of me) and I thought of like, five different lies the magician could’ve told that would’ve made this way more interesting. What I’m saying is that I’m totally available for a collaboration, Greer Macallister. (Historical Fiction)
It’s the story of modern life. You want something,
and you get it… and it’s not what you thought it would be. –
The Magician’s Lie, Greer Macallister
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is the beautiful story of the life of a Chinese girl into her adulthood. I really only ever learn about Asian culture of any kind through reading fiction so I am always grateful for authors like See who broaden my horizons a little bit with their educational fiction. (Historical Fiction, Cultural – China)
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd is told from the perspective of a boy with autism, although the word “autism” is never once mentioned. I enjoyed living through his eyes for a bit. Apart from that, the story is about the mysterious disappearance of the narrator’s cousin. It’s a mystery! It’s fun and fast paced and I’m sure a great conversation starter about special needs and learning disabilities and diversity and all of that great stuff. I would recommend it to middle school boys who aren’t super into reading. (Mystery, Young Adult)
If you enjoyed the book quotes included here, you can find more from books I’ve read at Words, Wisdom, etc. If you enjoyed my commentary, or want to check out my TBR list, you can follow me on GoodReads!