This year, every few months I am choosing the books that inspired me or spoke to me the most, and sharing a little bit about them here on the blog. As always, you can see everything I’m reading on my Goodreads profile!
These past few months I didn’t get quite as much reading done as I normally do. A lot of that was because I was moving to a new place and getting settled in, and a lot of it was because I got stuck on a couple books that seemed to drag on forever. I also didn’t prioritize reading as much as usual, so now I’m 5 books behind on my goal for the year. That’s a shame, but I’m getting back into the habit now. Even with a slower reading pace, I read these few books that I thought were outstanding.
1. Missoula by Jon Krakauer
I really wish this book didn’t have to exist, meaning I wish that the phenomenon of rape wasn’t even an issue that required discussion. But unfortunately, rape is far too common and we need to talk about why and how to fix it. Jon Krakauer (best known for his books Into Thin Air and Into The Wild, both excellent) writes a heartbreaking, infuriating book about the extreme prevalence of sexual assault in just one town in America (though there are hundreds with similar problems). He does an amazing job of humanizing the stories of several victims, and subsequently follows their cases (or lack thereof) through the justice system. It’s horrifying, but very important, and written in a way which honours and fully respects the victims. He did his research and writes with passion and conviction, and I for one am very glad that someone has written such a relevant, human account of this major issue.
2. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is a total genius when it comes to creativity. You can see her talk about the major concepts from this book in an awesome interview here, but I would highly recommend reading the book for yourself – whether or not you consider yourself “a creative person” (according to her, we all are). She talks about taking creative work seriously but lightly, about working hard but with a ton of self-love and compassion, about how to deal with fear and resistance, how it’s okay to just do it for you, separating your passion from a paycheck, and a whole lot more concepts that kind of smack you in the face and lighten your load and make you feel inspired. This book is empowering, but no-nonsense, but wildly spiritual and full of love. I loved it, and I can’t wait to read it again.
3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
While reading this book, I had this deep sense of being guided gently along my path, that the author was there to answer all my questions and was carefully helping me through the book. I don’t really know how to explain it beyond that, or by saying that this book is incredibly well-written. I never felt confused or adrift (something I often find myself feeling in “highly literary works”), simply compelled and happy to be reading such a well-crafted novel. Middlesex tells the story of one little girl’s family’s past, all the way through her life, to her recognition that she was, in fact, a he (more specifically, an intersex individual), and his current-day reality. It’s nuanced, and not overly serious, and funny, and compassionate, and thoughtful. Really, it was tremendous, it’s no wonder that it won the Pulitzer. It was recommended to me by one of my best friends whose book recommendations are always spot-on (see: the Jonathan Safran Foer last month), so thanks Katie!
4. Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff
I just finished this one, and it was a great read. It outlines the course of one marriage, told from both (fascinating) perspectives. I loved how overarching this story was, I really felt like in a way it made me appreciate all the little things in life, the passage of time, the seasons of life and love, how we can both know and not know so much about another person. I liked the switch in perspectives at the halfway mark and how new things were revealed about the same relationship. I had high expectations for this one (all kinds of bloggers were raving about it and the “Gone Girl-style twist”), and I wasn’t as wowed as I thought I’d be, but I still really liked it and found it fascinating and lovely.