May started out kind of slow in the reading department, but it picked up speed at the end.
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
This was the first book I've read by Held Evans, but I am sure I will read more. Questioning her evangelical upbringing, Held Evans leaves the church of her childhood to find a place to belong. Most of her questions are the same ones I have, the same many evangelicals have, in this current landscape.
Held Evans book is beautiful because she is able to appreciate parts of the way she was raised while still finding a way to move beyond it. She rises above the cynicism that plagues most of us at times and finds God in her seeking.
I've followed Held Evans on Twitter forever, and I'm an even bigger fan of her now.
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
Li pretty much destroyed me with this one, yet I recommend it highly.
This is not a light read, not an easy book to get through, but it's
Li writes about her struggles with depression
and the books that helped her as she tried to find her way through it, a
journey that may never end for her in this life. She loves author
William Trevor as much as I do, so reading about her interactions with
the author was a joy. However, reading about suicide is difficult,
especially if you've lost somebody to it. Li's observations are precise
and they will leave readers thinking long after the last page is
If you struggle with occasional depression like I do, take this one slowly. It can consume you.
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
should be required reading for everyone. In an elongated letter she
wrote to a friend who wanted to know how to raise her daughter as a
feminist, Ngozi Adichie gives 15 suggestions for how to raise girls who
will embrace their roles as equals. She inspired me to write this short piece about dads raising feminist sons.
The advice is practical and easily applied, and the style of the writing makes for a fast read.
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
love reading books about books, and Paul's non-fiction account of her
life with Bob is one. In fact, Bob is Paul's book of books, a journal
she started keeping in college that contains the name of every book she
has read since then.
Paul expertly tells about the
books she read as she unfolds the story of the life she was living
during the readings. I loved that someone else put into words how I
feel about books, that they are portals to other places in life. When I
see William Trevor's Reading Turgenev on my shelf, I'm taken back to college and a difficult time in life when this book felt like an anchor. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
reminds me of nursing Sam all night after he survived pneumonia his
first month of life. It was a dark book, one I'm not sure I would have
read if I hadn't been in such a weird, sleep-deprived place, unable to
rest out of fear. John Steinbeck's East of Eden is one that I have read so many times it feels like a string connecting certain points of my existence up to now.
For those who love books or who want to love books, My Life with Bob
is a must. As expected, Paul convinced me to add tons of books to my
reading list, and I realized that my Erin Condren planner is sort of
like my own Bob since I chronicle the books I've consumed there.
The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve
I've always sought out Shreve's books. The Last Time They Met and The Weight of Water are my favorites, and I recommend them both over The Stars Are Fire.
To be fair, the book was well written with interesting characters. The backdrop was Maine during a fire that ravaged the coast during the 20th century, and Shreve did her homework when it came to the history. Her characters, a lonely wife with two children whose husband goes missing during the fire, are vivid, and it is enjoyable to watch the protagonist explore her desires for her own life after tragedy.
This is a quick read, but for those who enjoy Shreve or want to start reading her work, this isn't where I would start. It didn't have me waiting with baited breath like others she's written.
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
I read this one while on vacation in Austin, and I will always remember hiding in the tiny laundry room perched on the counter trying to get in a few more pages before the dryer went off. Butler follows two boys who went to camp together and their divergent paths in life. As they age, Nelson, the outcast as a child, comes back to run the camp he loved. His friend's son and grandson eventually make their way to the camp. Events unfold for these men and boys, everything from war to destroyed relationships to violence. One of the highlights of this book is when we receive the view from a female character who ventures to this camp as an adult.
This book was rich and drew me in. I devoured it in two days, quite a feat considering how thoroughly those kids wore me out when we were out of town.
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
Chevalier retells Shakespeare's Othello, except the setting is a school in the 1970s where preteens make the first day for the new, only black student difficult, to say the least.
Chevalier's books have always been hit or miss for me. Falling Angels was my favorite, and while New Boy is well written, I wasn't dying to pick it up every night. Maybe all of those Shakespeare classes in college stripped away all the suspense for me.