I finished several books this month, and I also grabbed some just for reference. I've listed them all here.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This book made me laugh out loud and cry multiple times, and I didn't want to let it go when I turned the last page. Eleanor Oliphant is not typical, but since we see the world from Eleanor's view, we see why she thinks everyone around her is absurd.
When anti-social, possibly alcoholic Eleanor helps save an old man, she starts a friendship with a co-worker that leads to some upheaval in her otherwise planned out life. As the story unravels we learn about Eleanor's past as she digs through her memories to piece together her own story.
This story is uplifting and shattering at the same time, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The author of The Girl of the Train, which I read by nightlight when the twins were tinies, is back with another mystery, this one involving the deaths of women in a river.
When a woman is found dead in the river months after a teenage girl was found dead there, questions come to the surface that must be answered. The dead woman leaves behind a daughter who was also friends with the teen who died earlier, and Hawkins introduces us to a vast array of characters, all who might be suspects.
This was an enjoyable read and I recommend it, but it is clunkier than The Girl on the Train. The story is told from so many different points of view that it's not easy to keep everyone straight. I flipped back several times to figure out who I was reading about, and that messed with the urgency to get to the conclusion.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
I ended August with a mystery/thriller, and Ware did not disappoint. Our narrator, Lo, sometimes seems a bit unreliable, but it's hard not to believe her when she feels something has gone terribly wrong on the luxury yacht she is aboard. A list of suspects and hundreds of pages later, Ware brings this mystery to a satisfying end.
I read this one at night when everyone else was asleep. Luckily, I've never been a good candidate for a cruise due to vertigo, but I would never go on one after reading this no matter what.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange was my classic choice for the month. I knew nothing about this book when I picked it up, but I almost put it right back down. The language the teenage hoodlum, Alex, and his friends use was disorienting from the start, and the violence that followed turned me off.
I kept reading, and the novel was a great study in what being a sociopath looks like. However, I didn't feel sympathy for Alex ever while reading this, so I felt indifferent to his situation when the government tried to reform him. The method the government used was wrong, of course, but I disliked this guy with a passion that ran so deep I felt almost nothing but loathing for him.
Poppy by Avi
Wren is in a book club, and it's the coolest thing ever. The pick for August was Poppy, a story about a mouse who learns that the owl who rules Dimwood Forest is not the kind, watchful eye he passed himself off to be. It's a tale of adventure that has great lessons about what it looks like when people in power use fear to control others and why it's important to question everything.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
Vance's look at the hillbilly family he grew up in while living in Kentucky and Ohio was brilliant for many reasons. Vance is able to look back at what most would call a very dysfunctional childhood with an eye for the good in those who raised him. He doesn't let his abusive, drug-addicted mother, his absent father, or his somewhat crazy hillbilly grandparents off the hook, but he shares his past with an obvious affection for those who helped him survive. He acknowledges that without his grandmother as a constant in his life, he likely wouldn't have escaped the poverty that most hillbillies find themselves trapped in.
Vance shares the struggles of hillbillies while still refusing to make excuses for why many choose to give up steady jobs, embrace addiction, and then blame outside sources. He writes with love and a critical eye and offers an inside view of life within this culture.
Stuff Jesus Never Said by Paul Ellis
This quick read that is illustrated with memes of stuff Jesus never said is insightful and hilarious while also being sad. Flipping through the pages, there are many sayings that most people have heard and assume are Gospel truth, except they are nowhere in the actual Gospels. Ellis kindly dismantles the false words we attribute to Jesus and helps us see who he really is and not just the image we've made him into based on inaccurate information.
This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick
I love Gretchin Rubin, author of The Happiness Project which I read again every couple of years, and Warnick's book reminded me of her. After moving regularly for years, mainly just because Warnick and her husband are always ready to try somewhere new hoping it will be better, she finally ends up in Blacksburg, Virginia. With two daughters, one who is entering the teen years, Warnick wants to learn how to settle down and love where she lives. Is it possible that we can make ourselves fall in love with our town or city, despite its obvious imperfections? Would learning how help the U.S. population be stayers more than movers?
Warnick explores ways to be happy where we live, and I needed this book right now. D and I have discussed the moving question endlessly for months, and we are no closer to knowing what to do. Settled here for the foreseeable future, Warnick helped me see the benefits of trying to fall in love with where I live, even if we don't end up here forever. She outlines ways to love our cities, and her instructions and experiments are fun to read and backed with data from many sources.
In the end, she confirms what Rubin believes: we choose to be happy, or we choose not to. That's true no matter where we live.
The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary D. Chapman and Ross Campbell
In an effort to know more about our kids, I checked this one out and discovered what love language they spoke. I'm now reading through the relevant chapters to figure out the best ways to communicate with them via their love languages.
The Adrenal Reset Diet by Alan Christianson
After seeing a naturopath, I found out my adrenals are trashed. I'm taking about 50 supplements a day, and the naturopath also recommended I read this book to learn how what I eat and when affects my adrenals. I'm reading the parts that are relevant to the stages of adrenal issues I'm in, stages two and three.
Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Topics I've been obsessed with this year: hygge, minimalism, and the Enneagram. In many ways they overlap because they are all about simplicity. The Enneagram, in its own way, makes it simpler for us to understand who we are and what motivates us, so I grabbed this book to brush up on what each personality type is like and how to better serve them. I am also reading up on ways to be the best type two I can.