Last year I tried to keep track of what I read, ala Ruth. I was not very successful. Now, it’s July, and I haven’t written about anything I’ve read. It’s time.
Granted it’s hard to remember what order you read what in after 7 months, so this will be a little truthy. You know, like A Million Little Pieces. What I can recollect. Thankfully, I have not been high the whole time, so I should be a better historian than James Frey.
It may have been 2011, but since we’re not really counting, Book #1 was The Paris Wife, an account of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife. I loved it. Written mostly from her perspective, you really understand his charm and allure, but also what a blatant jerk he was a well. Book #2 was Lit (P.S.), a memoir about addiction. It was interesting at times, an engaging beginning, but sections just lost me and it took me a long time to finish. Amy and Isabelle came next. It was quirky, just out there enough characters to keep it interesting, but nothing earth shattering.
Book #4 was a favorite, The Art of Fielding. I’d heard something on NPR about it, but hesitated because it was touted as a book about baseball, which I couldn’t really care less about. The story though was deeply engaging, and the characters enthralling. There was even some random baseball history that I found fascinating.
Still-Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, by Lauren Winner, was Book #5. This one kind of knocked the wind out of me. Winner’s Real Sex has been one of my favorite books on relationships and sex and being single for a while. I really liked her because of it–she’s smart, educated, and made a lot of sense to me. Real Sex clarified a lot for me and was kind of a guidebook of sorts. Still, however, kind of blew that out of the water. It’s about her divorce. And how she’s not really sure where she stands with her faith. The writing itself was a bit…boring. Kathleen Norris wrote about basically the same ideas in Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, and did it with more thoughtfulness and craft in my opinion.
Book #6 didn’t get finished. Again. I thought with the movie coming out I’d try Blue Like Jazz. Again. And I. just. could. not. do. it. I love Donald Miller’s blog, and find his writing there quite engaging. The book, however, just felt so random and drug out and just really uninteresting. I quit halfway through. And promised myself I will not pick it up again.
It took me a while to get through Book #7, The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son, but it was worth it. The book is about a father coming to terms with his severely disabled son, and paralleled experiences I was having in internship at the time. It left me with some nagging questions about what it means to be saving babies who are born early with more and more severe disabilities. I don’t really have any answers, but the questions are good.
Book #8 was more of a professional book for me, Parenting with Love and Logic. To point out the obvious, I have no children. But, I’ve seen friends who are doing this with their (well-behaved, obedient) children, and I thought I could glean some things for school. Book #9, EntreLeadership, was also out of professional interest. Lots of nuggets of business wisdom to store away for the future.
Books #10 and #11, The Tiger’s Wife and Half the Sky, I read for the summer book club I started. I’d always wanted to do a book club, but a whole year sounded like too much commitment. And I needed a social outlet for the summer, so I started a book club for just the summer. And since I started it, I chose the books. The Tiger’s Wife is probably not a book I would have picked if I had read it before choosing it. It was long, drawn out. The writing was good, but it just couldn’t keep my attention. And there are far too many good books out there to read ones you’re not interested in. Half the Sky, by the New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof was the opposite. I couldn’t put it down. He writes about some pretty heavy topics–maternal health, sexual violence, human trafficking–all in the context of women around the world. I was hesitant because I questioned whether it would be another book about first world guilt, but instead he offered hope and practical, pragmatic solutions.