10.04.2018

Books I Read in September

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
This was a unique little volume written from the perspective of a character who has Asperger's and how her life revolves around her dedication to her work at a convenience store. It's fascinating food for thought on our actions, the life we lead, and how it relates to societal expectations. How different is someone who intentionally imitates others in order to fit in, versus those of us that just do so subconsciously? The cover is somewhat deceiving, as it conveys light and happy and this was more of a stark and contemplative read.

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan
Kelly Corrigan is my new auto-read author. I have read (on audiobook) two of her books this year and are both absolutely five star worthy. (You can find my review for Glitter and Glue here.) I highly recommend her stuff on audio to process the full range of emotions. I feel like Corrigan can see right into my heart. It’s as if she has a manual for LIFE and is translating it for us all in the most relatable stories. Tell Me More is good reminder to listen, to give yourself grace, to show up for those you love, and cherish them in the short time that we have. In a recent episode of the What Should I Read Next podcast, Anne Bogel included it in a very short list of books she would want everyone to read. I echo this sentiment tenfold.

The Fourteenth of September by Rita Dragonette
I was excited to receive this complimentary review copy from JKS Communications and She Writes Press, and to try a debut author with an independent publisher. Alas, this was not the book for me. I felt ambivalent about the main character and there weren't any relatable moments for me to connect with her. I can't imagine the pressure and the situation for college students during the Vietnam War, so perhaps it's a generational gap. Indeed, the Goodreads reviews on this one are off the charts - so your mileage may vary! 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This young neurosurgeon's account (published posthumously) of being diagnosed with cancer was a tearjerker, obviously, but ultimately hopeful. I loved the crossover of faith and science. Sort of supporting my own personal feeling that the belief in miracles of science, of our biology, is a type of spirituality. It would seem that Kalanithi's decision to become a neurosurgeon had more to do with humanity and exploring the soul than just being a doctor and helping others. Thinking about what makes us who we are, and how amazing the human brain is, was absolutely fascinating and gave me so much food for thought.
I wrote a bit more about it here.

The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
I listened to this audiobook after reading When Breath Becomes Air, and it felt serendipitous. I'm not usually a fan of self-help like books, but the former made me more open to the teachings of Tutu and the Dalai Lama. They are obviously of different faiths, are welcoming of all religions, and agree that science is intertwined with our spirituality. The ways in which they support the '8 pillars of joy' with such intriguing scientific facts is so compelling. For example, people who have a more self-centered perspective and use mostly personal pronouns ( I/me/mine instead of we/us/ours) run more risk of heart attack, and fatal ones. Apparently it's more of an indicator than smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol! Or that holding grudges increases stress, and that even just THINKING about forgiving someone lowers stress levels. So much good stuff. Also, the pair are adorable and entertaining, always joking with each other, and they have the funniest of idiosyncrasies (Tutu loving rum and Coke, and switching to Coke Zero to ingest less sugar made me smile). Again, I wrote a bit more about this here.

CIRCE by Madeline Miller
This book sat on my shelves unread for many months. I kept pushing it down the list because I was afraid that despite the awesome reviews that it might not be my kind of book. Oh, man, how wrong I was! If the descriptor 'for fans of Greek mythology' might have signaled 'stuffy and cerebral' to you as well, fear not. Miller's prose is indeed smartly written, but in an accessible way. It reminded me that I did indeed enjoy my college Freshman year lecture class and the ol' book: Mythology and You. The stories have stood the test of time for good reason: they are gripping material! Miller takes it further with her simple and powerful prose, yes. But she also made me empathize and identify with the struggles of a fiercely independent goddess, especially once Circe becomes a mother. From the incessant crying of babyhood, to letting her baby fly the nest, her story felt so deeply human and real. A favorite quote:
"You dare to threaten me?"
These gods, I thought. They always say the same thing.
"I do."
My father's skin flared blinding bright. His voice seared at my bones. "You would start a war." 
"I hope so. For I will see you torn down, Father, before I will be jailed for your convenience any longer."
It for sure will be on my favorites of the year list. 

News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt
This was a lovely character driven WWII historical fiction and you can read my full review here

7 comments:

  1. I was the same about Circe, and then felt the same about it too! I was all "oh noo, mythology? I don't think so" and I even started it in print and felt like I didn't WANT to and then remembered that I bought it on Audible when I had credits to burn and I listened and <3 <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yay! I'm glad it was as good on audio!

      Delete
  2. So glad you loved Circe! It was a wonderful surprise to me, too. After Circe, I read Song of Achilles and loved that, too. Nice line up of books here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, good, I'm glad to see another vote in favor of Song of Achilles - I definitely want to read it now, too :)

      Delete
  3. You had an amazing reading month!

    I feel the same way about Kelly Corrigan. I listened to Tell Me More on the treadmill, which was fine until the chapters about her best friend, at which point my outburst of tears was embarrassing for everyone in the gym.

    I'm so glad you liked Circe. Barring some last minute unexpected awesomeness, it's going to be my favorite book of 2018.

    Given that you like Corrigan on audio you should listen to Beck Dorey-Stein. It is humorous and a reminder of what the WH used to be like. She narrates and is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I have that Dorey-Stein audiobook on hold!

      Delete
  4. So many good books! I'm glad to hear you liked Convenience Store Woman. I cannot get ahold of it at the library and am debating splurging on it from Amazon!

    ReplyDelete