Walden by Henry David Thoreau
This classic of minimalism and simplicity was our book club choice this month -- and only two of us made it to the meeting. I think I know why. Despite the many amazing insights of Walden, it is a pretty dense book, and it takes some motivation to get through some of the detailed descriptions of the depth of the lake, the idiosyncrasies of the animals in the surrounding woods, etc. Still, I'm glad I finally read it, and it did cause me to think and learn some things.
Abigail Adams by Woody Holton
John Adams by David McCullough, which is infinitely more readable than this tome that focuses on Abigail. I enjoyed all the details of her life, but at times the style was rather dry. I also listened to it on Audible, and I don't think an audiobook was the right format for a biography of this style. In addition, at times the author chose to view Abigail's actions exclusively through the lens of feminism. While I do think Abigail was ahead of her time in women's rights and did many amazing things for women, I don't think her every action was performed with that sole intention, as the author sometimes implied. Still, an interesting look into an interesting life.
How She Does It by Anne Bogel
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
The Age of Innocence, captivated me and made me feel all the feelings. I had heard that The Custom of the Country was her masterpiece, and I had very high expectations for it. I won't say that those expectations were dashed, necessarily, but I did have a very different experience with Custom of the Country than I did with the other two Wharton books I have read. While neither of them could be classified as "happy endings," they left me satisfied, albeit sad. However, The Custom of the Country left me feeling somewhat dirty and weary. I think part of it is the fact that the main character, Undine, is so unlikable. I am not the type to discount a story because the heroine (or anti-heroine, as it were) is flawed. I love Gone With the Wind, the book I hear mentioned the most often for having an unlikable heroine. However, Undine is selfish, foolish, a home wrecker, a life-ruiner... I was so angry at her for most of the book, and so sad for the people whose lives she affected. I do think that Wharton's writing was incredible -- it certainly still made me feel the way her other books have -- but the things I was feeling were so miserable and frustrated that I couldn't enjoy her genius. I can't rate this book, because it is a masterpiece -- but I didn't enjoy it.
Warnings: Off the page adultery, dark thematic material (such as suicide)