Thursday, December 21, 2017

Reading Update

Book #84 of 2017 was a reread, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, by Lauren Winner.  I read it for the first time last year, and it is such an honest book, and such a relatable one.

Book 85 was Anne Bogel's Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything.  This was very interesting, and at some point I will go back to it and delve in more deeply.  It gives an introduction to several of the best-known frameworks for identifying personality types, like the Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, and Love Languages.  I love Anne Bogel's podcast, What Should I Read Next?, and her blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy.  On the podcast, she has an amazing ability to cut to the essentials of people's reading tastes after just a few minutes of conversation.  The other week, she did a live event where she recommended books based on even less contact.  Some of that incisive understanding is on display in this book, as well.

Book 86 was The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale.  There are very few books which examine a long, platonic friendship between a man and a woman.  Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings (briefly reviewed here) is one, and there are hardly any others that I know of.  While I didn't necessarily believe all the details of this book, I very much believed the essentials of the friendship, and I loved reading about it.  I find Hale's books uneven; some I enjoy, and some I can hardly finish.  This one was lovely and surprisingly touching.

Book 87 was Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue.  This book, set in New York City in 2007 and 2008, is about a couple from Cameroon who are trying to make it by working for successful, wealthy Americans.  I liked the realism of the book and the complex, imperfect characters.  Books about immigrants are my favorite, and this one is up there with the best.

Book 88 was Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God, another Lauren Winner reread.  Winner explores metaphors for God and the way humans interact with Him.  This is a wonderful book, my favorite of Winner's.

Book 89 was English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith, by Andrea Lucado.  Yes, that Lucado; Andrea is Max's daughter.  Her voice reminds me more of Donald Miller's than Max Lucado's.  I enjoyed this book and would like to read more of her work.  The "English" of the title refers to Lucado's time studying in Oxford.

Book 90 was How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History's Greatest Poem, by Rod Dreher.  Dreher combines his reading of Dante with therapy and meetings with his Orthodox priest to make sense of his life.  I could very much relate to his approach, as I often find myself and my life situations in what I'm reading.

Book 91 was The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka.  I loved this poetic, wonderfully written story of picture brides coming from Japan in the twenty years before World War II, and the way they were caught up in the internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor.  I've never read anything quite like the first-person plural voice of this short and beautiful novel.

I've been reading Book 92 for a long time, and I finally finished it.  It's Isabel Allende's novel about Haiti, Island Beneath the Sea.  This was hard to read because of the subject matter, Haiti's bloody history of slavery and oppression, and also because it seemed to go on and on.  I wanted to finish it, and eventually I did.  The characters had a lot happen to them, but were surprisingly forgettable; this may be partly because I took so long to read it, and kept going weeks between sections, and partly because the details of the story are so horrific and gory that I was almost flinching as I read parts of it.  It also felt very much as though I was reading in translation, which of course I was.  I haven't read any of Allende's other books, but maybe I should try one. 

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