Now that grad school is over, I’ve been able to pick my own reading lists, so here are some of my recent “reads,”* as well as a few random thoughts about each.
From Amazon.com: “Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; . . . and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. . . . To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.”
I loved this book. Not exactly sure why, but it is my favorite read in a while. The various formats (emails, memos, journal entries, etc.) that piece the story together do a great job of character development, in an indirect way. The seemingly random elements (a proposed trip to Antarctica, a personal assistant from India, Bernadette’s past, etc.) all fit together beautifully. I tore through this in record time. I just kept wanting to know what happened next! Dare I give it a 5? That’s unheard of! And yet, my rating: 5 out of 5.
From Amazon.com: “Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”
This was an audiobook I listened to on a recent road trip, and it was very engaging. At first I thought it might be nothing more than a teenager’s coming of age/sexual awakening story, but soon realized it was a lot more than that. Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time (although I didn’t cry at all, which surprised me), it is a beautiful story about true love in the face of some serious circumstances. My rating: 4 out of 5.
From Amazon.com: “. . . most of what we’re consuming today is no longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. . . . Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.'”
I listened to this book while exercising, and in part because I was multitasking, I zoned out during some of the more scientific elements Pollan describes, much of which I’ve heard before in one way or another. Basically, it seems that at some point in history, every food has been bad, then good, then bad again, and we are too obsessed with these nuances to look at the big picture, which can be summed up in those seven words above. Pollan’s book is broken into three parts, and the most helpful part to me was the third part, “Getting Over Nutritionism,” which fleshed out practical ways to follow Pollan’s “new” eating rules. Overall, this book made me want to read more Wendell Berry, and spend more time in the kitchen, specifically with tomatoes and olive oil. 🙂 My rating: 3 out of 5.
From Amazon.com: “1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood 14-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. . . . June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness . . . June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.”
This was a great story, since it is set in 1987. It reminded me of growing up during this time, without cell phones, digital cameras, or medical knowledge that we have now. It was a beautiful story that made me want to look more closely at those around me whom I ostracize and remember that they, too, are people deserving of love and respect, and may even have something to teach me about those things. My rating: 4.5 out of 5.
*In quotes because some were audiobooks!