Another month gone by, another little stack of books completed. This month was a lesson in extremes . . . the books I liked, I really liked, and the books I didn’t care for, I really didn’t care for. At least they made an impression, for better or worse. No waffling in the middle here.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) This book was intense. I read it in high school, and boy was it a different experience to re-read it as an adult. Set in a society ruled by a controlling (and downright terrifying) religious government, it follows the life of a ‘handmaid,’ a young woman assigned to an infertile couple for (hmm, how to put this delicately) . . . procreational purposes? . . . against her will. It is not fun, or light, or enjoyable to read, but it is hands down one of the most moving, powerful, frighteningly real books I’ve ever read. This is definitely one that I would recommend with some caution—not for the faint of heart—but if you can stomach some of the rather disturbing themes and writing, you will definitely never forget it. I give it 5/5 stars, not because I liked reading it, but because it is one of the most powerful books I think I’ve ever read. It’s not fun, but it’s incredible.
2. Can You Keep a Secret? (Sophie Kinsella) After the heavy Handmaid’s Tale, I really needed to decompress with something as trivial and light and silly as possible (and no, the irony of following up The Handmaid’s Tale with chick lit is not lost on me). And although I definitely can’t say I enjoyed this one much, it absolutely served its purpose—it was about as light and silly as they come. I should know by now, after trying a few of her books, that I don’t care for Sophie Kinsella’s writing, but I can at least see why other people like her books. They’re not my cup of tea, but hey, sometimes you need something a little ridiculous.
3. Something Borrowed (Emily Giffin) All things considered, I didn’t much like this one either. Just a dragged out sob story of selfish people acting selfishly and then feeling sorry for themselves when their selfish decisions don’t work out well for them. But on the other hand, it gets bonus points for having awesome main character names—Rachel and Darcy, how about that?—and I do have to hand it to Giffin . . . she really beefs up the typical chick lit with some extra substance and character development. Didn’t like it much, but have to give it props for being written pretty darn well.
4. At Home (Bill Bryson) Man, I just love Bill Bryson. This non-fiction book slowly works its way through the modern home and dives into the history and development of everything you can possibly imagine taking place there. For instance, the chapter on kitchens covers food preparation throughout history, common diets in different areas, etc. I know, that description makes it sound absolutely dry as dust (I’m bored just writing that), but somehow Bryson makes it all so interesting and funny and enjoyable. There was definitely a pretty wide range of interest for me here—some chapters were so interesting, and others never hooked me—but overall, I loved it. So interesting and informative, and Bryson’s wit and humor are so enjoyable to read. I’m pretty sure I read about half of it aloud to Jeff because it was so full of interesting little tidbits that I had to repeat to someone else.
5. When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead) I feel a little left behind on this one. Clearly, I didn’t get something that everyone else got from this book—the reviews are fabulous and I am definitely in the minority by not falling head over heels for it. It follows Miranda, a 6th grader who begins receiving mysterious anonymous notes that tell her she can help save a life. I thought it was interesting and well-written, and I don’t even have any specific complaints about it . . . it just never grabbed me. But with all the love it has received, I guess I’ll have to accept that it must be awesome and I just don’t quite get it.
Did you read anything you loved this month? I’m always up for recommendations! Hit me. (And feel free to follow me on Goodreads if you’d like to see more of my reviews.)