Every month this year, I'm gathering up all of the books I've read (my goal for 2015 is 52 and I've tackled more than 30 already!) and sharing quick little reviews with you. This post is a few days late because the nasty stomach flu knocked me out cold for a few days, but here are the books I read this May!
Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott. // "Love falls to earth, rises from the ground, pools around the afflicted. Love pulls people back to their feet. Bodies and souls are fed. Bones and lives heal. New blades of grass grow from charred soil. The sun rises."
Anne Lamott. I cannot say enough good things. This book was one I read in a short afternoon at one of my favorite cafes, and although I found myself recognizing a lot of passages from previous books I've read by Anne, I still loved it. I've always been a major fan of the totally honest, transparent style of prayer and writing too (why get all flowery and formal when you can just be totally real with God?) so I loved her way of highlighting her three essential and simple prayers: help, thanks, and WOW! This is a great little book that I heavily underlined, laughed through while reading, and would pass along to many friends.
The Dinner by Herman Koch. // "My mind was already made up. I did what I thought I had to do as a father: I put myself in my son's shoes."
This book was an interesting one. As a New York Times bestseller, I assumed the quality would be high. With a Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) review on the front saying "Chilling, nasty, smart, shocking, and unputdownable," I assumed it would be similar in nature to Gone Girl. It wasn't, at all. I honestly found it pretty boring and slow. I really didn't get much out of it, didn't really find it particularly enjoyable, and wouldn't really suggest you read it. So that's that.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. // "'I can promise you none of these things. No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at all. No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them. No atmosphere of inquiry, for I will bring you to the land not of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God.'"
Oh, C.S. Lewis, how I love you. Your words challenge me, open my eyes to new perspectives and ways of thinking and believing, and constantly push me to make my faith more real and more my own. This book was a beautiful fantasy, what Lewis calls in the preface an "imaginative supposal" of what Heaven and Hell might look like. It was a great afternoon read (in my Eno in perfect weather, no less) and one that will linger in my thoughts as I think of what might await us someday. As always, I highly recommend ANYTHING Lewis writes, because he's the best.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. // "I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
I've been trying to make an effort to read more classic literature and major award-winning books, because they're rich and good and so worth reading. This was one of them-- I've heard of and loved quotes from Plath for a while, but had never really read any of her work. I didn't know what to expect with this one. It took a while for the story to really get going and I wasn't really satisfied with the ending, but there was a lot in the middle about the breakdown of the main character that was fascinating and horrifying and gripping. It wasn't a favorite of mine, but I'm glad I read it.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. // “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.”
My sweet friend Amber sent this book to me as a beautiful birthday gift, with a note inside that said "this has been my very favorite book for some time. I hope it sits as beloved in your heart and on your shelves as it does mine." I read it in one evening (you're very productive when in a big empty house after the baby you're watching falls asleep) and truly loved it. It's a rich story of a brave girl in a turbulent time in America's history, and the love seeps through the pages in a sweet (it's all about honey, so literally, it's sweet) way. It's no secret why this book is a bestseller.
All The Birds, Singing: A Novel by Evie Wyld. // "I reached the doorway of my house and looked out. It was still there, whatever it was, the feeling like something had hunkered down in the valley, waiting and watching and ready to stoop."
This book was an interesting one. I honestly don't think I would ever recommend it to anyone. I found it at Barnes & Noble in a section of "Great New Writers" to discover and it was labeled as an award winner, so I thought it would be good. Straight up, it wasn't. I couldn't get into it, couldn't connect with the main character, couldn't keep up with the flashbacks and flash forwards and random characters and overall strange lack of emotion and character OF the main character...it was just a dull, flat, uninteresting read to me. It totally baffles me how The Boston Globe is quoted on the cover saying "The writing floods every age with menace" when I found the TOTAL opposite to be true.
In case you missed my announcement with Amber of Mr. Thomas and Me last week, we have launched a new kind of book club for book lovers: #COLLABOREADS. (READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE OR HERE.) Choose a book currently on the NY Times Bestsellers list and get to reading! We will host a link-up on both of our sites at the end of the month for you to share your thoughts on your book with all of us! PS: I've chosen "All The Light We Cannot See" and am SO excited to dive in to it!