Another end of the month, another round-up of what I read. I was all over the place book-wise. I actually am in the middle of five (?!) books right now for a bunch of random reasons so I’ve read more than the list suggests. I have a feeling October’s round-up will be extra long because of it. I usually don’t pick up a new audiobook or book until I’m done with the last, but I got off my library’s waitlist for a book I was dying to read, I tried to finish a book (and failed) before a last-minute book club, and had to click pause on a book while I tried to finish up screening books for the Bad on Paper podcast I’m going to be a guest on!
Despite this, I read some AMAZING books this month! Really excited to share this list.
I picked up this book without reading what it was about. Since there is a girl on the cover, I assumed it be about… a girl. Which, I guess it is, but it’s really more about three men who were in love with the same girl. I thought this was a very interesting book– Richard Russo writes with humor, captures the essence of nostalgia, and hones in on very specific, incredible character development. But, I don’t believe I was the target audience. The men, now in their sixties, are reflecting on their past and parsing through their present reality. The most interesting element of the book was how the men were coming to terms with their relationships with their own parents (and who their parents were when they were in college), now that they’re older themselves.
If you read ONE book from this list, make it The Nickel Boys. It’s a historical fiction novel– based on a horrific (and real) reform school in Florida, but the actual plot is imagined. However, you will believe you are reading a true account, it’s just that good. I flew through this book, unable to put it down– or turn away. It’s disturbing and powerful. This is going to be a top contender for best books I read for the year.
I almost didn’t read Whisper Network though I’m really glad I did. The novel follows a law firm in Dallas and some of the women who work there and their male boss. I found this to be another “can’t put down” book. I did think the plot was a little too transparent at times, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a little bit of a “whodunnit” as a character dies early in the plot under mysterious conditions and tackles a lot of issues women face in the workplace a la the #metoo movement.
My friends LOVED this book and I just couldn’t get into it. (From what I’ve heard from other people, it’s polarizing– you either love or hate it.) I felt like I knew exactly what was going to happen within a few chapters. I kept reading hoping something else would surprise me, but nope. The main character travels to Buenos Aires after ending her career as a competitive skier and amidst a LOT of family and personal drama. The writing style seemed super abrupt to me (two years could be summed up in a single paragraph and I kept finding myself re-reading parts in case I had missed something). The best part of the book was definitely the descriptions of Buenos Aires!
I would only recommend this book if you’re already a fan of Alice Hoffman. It’s a book about WWII and she weaves magical realism throughout the entire book. I love the way she tells stories; this one was about hidden Jewish children during WWII. This is a DARK book. Some of the chapters had me sick to my stomach, but it’s ultimately beautiful.
I love a good memoir and this one was SO GOOD. If you have the chance to listen to the audiobook, I highly recommend it as Ruth Reichl reads it herself. She was the editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine and kind of a huge deal in both the publishing world and food industry. I knew a bit about her– enough to recognize by name just from pop culture– but this book totally gave me a whole new understanding to her as a person. The food descriptions are delicious; I was hungry the whole time I was listening. And I LOVED the insider’s scoop on the magazine world.
Oh, this book. I’m not even sure any kind of blurb can do it justice. It’s a short book (or long short story) and a quick read, but it will cut deep into your core. There is a lot of buzz surrounding it right now and after reading it I totally understand the hype. It tackles family, class, motherhood. Teenage pregnancy, unfulfilled dreams and hopes for a better future, life & death. Jacqueline Woodson is a gifted storyteller. I will definitely be reading it again, because I know it’s a book that gets better the more you dig into it.