Jonathan's working tonight, and I'm sort of determined to finish this series of posts before 2017 rings it in! Ha!
Backstory // Q1 // Q2
July/August/September we cruised right along and hit some more highlights (serious highlights) of the year.
A close second to Mudbound for fave of the year is The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. I should pause here and put in a plug for a big component to my reading year, which was listening weekly to the What Should I Read Next podcast. I look forward to it every week! Anyway, sometime in the summer she recommended The Thorn Birds to someone and made it sound so intriguing. Then my pal Leanne started it/immediately loved it, and I started not long after. What a perfect summer read—I freaking loved that book, and loved the experience of reading it too. It was kind of like watching Friday Night Lights for the first time—so sad when it was over and jealous of people who hadn't experienced it yet. The writing, the story, the sweeping grandeur of everything it covered, generations, love, loss, etc...ooooh, it has everything. If you haven't read it, DO IT.
Next was another big chunk of book with 11/22/63, my very first Stephen King read. I think I heard it mentioned on that podcast too—what often happens is that I'll hear a book mentioned, add it to my to-be-read list on Goodreads or somewhere, and then request it via Overdrive (kindle) or OneClick Digital (audiobook) and then whenever it comes up my turn on either format, I'll go ahead and start it. What happened with this book is that it came up on audiobook first, and I listened to a few hours of it (it's easily over 30 hours I think, read aloud!) and then switched to paper version (one of the few books I read in paper this year). I've always been intrigued by the Kennedy assassination because 11/22/63 was my dad's 9th birthday, and he lived just down the road from Dallas (in Waco, Texas) when this world-changing event happened. Then, Amazon Prime (or was it Hulu?) made a miniseries of this book, which I have yet to finish... Anyway. Solid 4 stars, good summer read. And Stephen King... I get it. A man for the masses! (Can I say that?)
Book club rolled around again, and with it was The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. I enjoyed reading this book, but it was not life-changing or mind-bending by any means. The subject matter was pleasant and interesting enough (a jump between New York City of the '50s, 12th or whatever century Netherlands, and modern-day Australia), but it wasn't enthralling.
I'm nervous to even write about this next book. This was also for book club, and being such a hefty book, I started it early, not realizing I'd fly right through it (sometimes against my own will). A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. Oh boy, what to say. This falls in the category I've heard described as a "before and after" book—you thought one way before you read it, and you think another way after. I may think of this book at least once every day and it's been months since finishing it. The writing is absolutely superb, she takes you right through the most difficult subject matter (almost imaginable), but the reading experience itself feels...effortless. I've never experienced anything like it before. I can't say I'd recommend this for everyone, because it is so, so difficult at parts to get through. If you qualify as a "highly sensitive person" in any capacity, I'd skip this one. But wow. A real, true masterpiece of a book.
It would've been difficult to follow A Little Life (in fact, it took me a while to come down from the experience of reading it and being so completely absorbed)... next, I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I took a race relations class at church in the fall, which was amazing, and this book was part of the reading list. It was a timely read, considering all of the current events/impending election, etc. Coates is definitely a commanding contemporary voice, and I'm glad to be familiar with his work.
A good follow-up to Coates was a highly-acclaimed book of the 2016—which happened to pop up on my Kindle from the library at just the right time—was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This story follows two African sisters from centuries ago, one who was sold into slavery, and one who stayed in Africa, and where subsequent generations found themselves, taking the reader through the Civil War, Jim Crow, integration, and on. I found this book fairly easy to feel engaged in (and again, timely!), although I did read people say that they would start to feel invested in a character and then the story would move along, and I identified with this. But definitely, a really worthwhile read!
On audiobook, I went through:
- The Nest by Cynthia d'Aprix Sweeney (meh...I do not get all the hype. At all. Yes, it has a pretty cover?)
- The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes (maybe I would've gone through this faster and enjoyed it more in non-audio? It fell a little flat to me.)
- The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Gailbraith (pseudonym for JK Rowling... good, but took me a while to get into on audio, even though again, yay for British accents where they're due.)
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