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This is the first week in quite a while that I haven’t finished a book! As you can tell from this month, June, and May (part 1, part 2), I’ve been on a pretty quick pace the last few months. But this week I’ve been trudging through The Interestings and Lolita. Guess you will have to wait and hear about those next month.
This book has been on my radar for a long time, and I’ve wanted to read a fiction book by Patchett since I read Truth and Beauty in 2008. I don’t know why it took me this long to get around to it! When Anne told me she had seen people compare Bel Canto to The Sparrow, I decided it was time to jump on it.
The comparison comes, I think, from the fact that this book is more about the characters and human nature than the plot line. Which I kind of love! The characters in this novel will stick with you and break your heart. Highly recommend.
The Amish Seamstress by Leslie Gould and Mindy Starns Clark – None of the subsequent books have been as good as the first book in this series (The Amish Midwife), but I keep reading and enjoying them anyway. The mix of history, mystery, and romance with the Amish culture makes for a fun read.
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – As much as others have raved about this book, I am surprised no one ever ruined it for me. So I don’t even want to tell you what it’s about, because I don’t think I even read the book jacket, I just started reading. In all honesty, I sometimes struggle with the vernacular in modern British lit and that can be enough to make me not enjoy the story as much. I think that may have been the case here.
I realize this makes it sound like I didn’t like the book! But that is not true at all. Louisa is a fantastic character, very interesting, and the story unfolds well. I love a novel that hasn’t been written a thousand times before, and Moyes is innovative with the subject matter here. I’m looking forward to starting The Girl You Left Behind, which I have from the library, soon.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – My husband insisted I read Mr. Penumbra before he ever put it down. A book that mixes the high tech of Silicon Valley with an ancient mystery found in pages of old books, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is an innovative novel by first-time author Sloan. I actually found his characters to be more compelling than the story line itself – they are quirky, lovable, and funny.
The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister – Bauermeister’s prose is good enough to eat. Her beautiful stories about the characters that center around Lillian’s restaurant are nothing fascinating, but the way she writes makes me want to devour each one. Simply delightful to read, just like The School of Essential Ingredients. There’s something dreamy about the world Bauermeister creates. I didn’t really remember the characters from Essential Ingredients, but it was OK and a fine stand-alone as well.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Why yes, I am doing ALL THE CATCHING UP this summer on big books everyone else has already read. While there is nothing high and mighty about Eleanor and Park, nothing that is going to classify it as “great literature,” Rowell writes a story that you simply can’t put down. Eleanor is a wounded eldest child of five, living in a vapid home with an angry, drunk stepfather and a mother who’s given up. When she meets Park on the bus, nothing seems extraordinary. But slowly, they fall. It put a big goofy smile on my face, thinking back on being an infatuated 16-year-old girl. Rowell is utterly readable. I whizzed through this book in 12 hours … and only because I thought I should probably sleep at night.
Southern Fried Faith by Rob Tims – Admittedly this is more of a treatise or manifesto than a book in its length. But Rob Tims (who was the youth pastor at our Nashville church when we joined there) outlines some of the issues of the Southern Protestant church. His explanation of the conflict between patriotism and being a Jesus-follower makes so much sense, and that hit home for me. A quick read with a good message, especially for any Southern pastor.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – I think Kidd redeemed herself from The Mermaid Chair with this great piece of historical fiction. I would really give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars – I held back the last star because it wasn’t un-put-down-able. But it was really REALLY good. Compelling historical fiction taking place in Charleston, S.C., in the early 1800s. Alternating views between a young slave-owner from a wealthy planter family and her slave, girls of about the same age. Fantastic and based loosely on the real life of abolitionist Sarah Grimke.
What did you read this month? Let’s talk books!