Recent Reads -- 4 stars each

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

I first read Middlemarch when I was in college. I'd picked it up because I knew it was one of the "greats" and I felt like I had to read it sometime or other; I didn't suspect how much engaging it would be. A few months ago, I started listening to it while I ran. Thus, when I had a chance to read an early copy of My Life in Middlemarch, I jumped at the chance. To be honest, I was expecting more of a memoir than this biography/criticism/personal reflection, but I still loved reading about the layers of George Eliot's life, the construction of the massive, masterful novel, and the way books color and influence every reader's life.

4 stars

Warnings: Some thematic material and vague references to sensuality

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle

I love Madeleine L'Engle. If, someday, I am a famous writer (I can dream, can't I?) and someone asks me who my greatest influence was, she will be at the top of the list. I actually read part of this memoir several years ago and I have no idea why I didn't finish it at the time, but several of the lines I highlighted have become so much a part of my own opinions that I had forgotten that I first read them in A Circle of Quiet. This memoir explores L'Engle's experiences with writing, living in a small community, spirituality, and family life. It is rambling but gorgeous, with many gems of wisdom. I am so excited that there are three more Crosswicks Journals for me to dive into.

4 stars

Warnings: A few instances of language, discussion of some heavy ideas

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is pure delight to read. Something about the way she frames emotions and experiences makes them both infinitely relatable and yet entertainingly unique. Landline is the story of Georgie McCool (which, really? what a name -- but it worked with the character once I got acquainted with her), a career woman and mother whose marriage is faltering. After she chooses work over family and her husband, Neil, takes their kids to see his family for Christmas without her, she tries to call them from her mother's landline -- only to find that it isn't present-day Neil but Neil from her past that answers. As she speaks with him, she evaluates her life, love, and relationship and tries to work her way back to her family. One of the things I loved about this book was that I could really empathize with Georgie in many ways. I am a working mother too -- I am going to have to be away from my family on Christmas too (although for me, it is not a choice, and my husband isn't mad at me about it, thank goodness). The pain she experienced reverberated with me, and as she went through the growing process I also felt like I learned some things about love. Rowell is an auto-read for me now.

4 stars

Warnings: Language, references to sex (no explicit scenes)

Paper Towns by John Green

I'm (very slowly) working my way through John Green's backlist. Paper Towns is about a guy whose name I've already forgotten whose childhood best friend goes missing -- but leaves some clues for him to find her. As he leaves on his wild goose chase he learns about love, friendship, and living. So here's the thing about John Green. Fault in Our Stars was amazing and moving. Looking for Alaska was pretty good, and unique from Fault in Our Stars. However, Paper Towns reads a lot like Looking for Alaska. Manic-pixie-dream-girl, much philosophizing about love, friendship, purpose, and death. It was a solidly good book, but definitely didn't veer from the prototype. I will say that I don't mind Green's hyper-intelligent protagonists, though -- I know people complain that teenagers don't talk like that or think like that and so on, but I disagree. Not all teenagers do. Maybe not even most. But some do, and I think they would definitely be the most interesting ones to read a book about. End of that rant. Basically, good book, good coming of age story, if you like John Green, here's a John Green book that sounds just like a John Green book.

4 stars

Warnings: Language, teen drug use and drinking, references to sexuality

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