Hi bookish friends! I have BIG news. After being out of work since July 2018, thanks to leukemia, I have finally returned the workforce. Yes, that’s right, I have a job. Actually, my dream job! Which meant that I didn’t read as much as I normally do. In total I read eight books, 1,715 pages, and my most read genres were Contemporary, Classics, and Young Adult.
The opening line of T.S. Eliot’s 1922 poem, The Waste Land, is ‘April is the cruelest month’. Due to past trauma, I might have to agree with that; however, March was stressful and while April wasn’t stressful in the same regard, I did find it was cruel in the sense of not enjoying a few of the books I decided to read over the month. Initially my goal was to read books about the Earth, Environment, and Weather in order to celebrate Earth Day. Unfortunately, I followed through with that goal of only reading two books about weather. One of those books had nothing to do with weather or the climate and was very misleading. But for now, I’ll digress. That said, here are the books I consumed during the month for April 2022.
Brave written by Rose McGowan
Published January 30th, 2018
This past week I spent time with Rosa Arianna McGowan reading, well really listening, to her audiobook for Brave while also pairing it with the physical copy of the book. Random fact the purchase of both the book and audiobook in 2018 was a first for me. There was no question concerning the matter. I needed to support this kindred spirit, my soul sibling.
Since 2018 I have circled back to Brave periodically. In-fact I have read/listened to this book probably more than any other. Why? Because this manifesto is a solid reminder of the importance to stand up for the things you believe in and to speak truth to power even if your voice shakes.
Each read/listen I find my being experiencing all the emotions. There are some moments, I find myself giggling. Moments, I find myself enraged. Tears are always inevitable but more importantly I am completely in awe of Rosa’s courage and spirit. Often, I am asked what the shift was in my activism and the things I feel inclined to speak out about and this is one of the books that comes up. Why? Because it leads to the path of allowing your mind to be free. It also challenges your mind to be both compassionate and critical of oneself. And I find that to be incredible.
There are many things that I find to be exquisite about Rosa. I admire her artistic abilities whether through written form, photography, or film. But most of all I respect that she says what she means, and she means what she says. She is a truth teller. And personally, she’s made me a slightly less stupid human.
For that, Rosa, I thank you immensely. I also thank you for your art and for everything you have shared with the world.
The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
One of the most popular Victorian era detective stories and characters is Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson. Originally published in 1903 through 1904, this collection of Sherlock Holmes stories resurrects the self-described amateur detective due to response from readers.
With this being the sixth publication in the Holmes canon, I can safely say that these stories are a well-oiled machine that writes themselves. Each story follows the same formulaic route and there were several times I found the stories to be mind-numbingly dull. That could, however, be due to rapid consumption. Because of this I do feel like reading these stories would be best over a period, similar to the original publications.
There are a total of thirteen stories within this collection. The Adventures of the Empty House, Norwood Builder, Dancing Men, Solitary Cyclist, Priory School, and Black Peter, Charles Augustus Milverton, Six Napoleons, Three Students, Golden Pince-Nez, Missing Three-Quarter, Abbey Grange, and the Second Stain. My favorites: The Adventures of the Empty House, Priory School, Three Students, Norwood Builder, Dancing Men, Six Napoleons, and The Missing Three-Quarter.
Night of the Twisters – Ivy Ruckman
With the recent tornado outbreaks and the devastation across the southeast I felt that reading, Night of the Twisters, might be appropriate. Inspired by the June 3, 1980, tornado outbreak in Grand Island, Nebraska, Night of the Twisters, Dan Hatch, a twelve-year-old boy, who along with his best friend Arthur must survive a deadly tornado outbreak.
Growing up the film adaptation starring Devon Sawa, John Schneider, and Lori Hallier was one of my favorite films so to finally sit down and read the original source material was such a treat. While the film is faithful to the novel there are a few slight alterations. Grandma Bell is just a neighbor in the book, Dan’s mom goes to check on her with the tornado first hits instead of working at a local diner, and Goldie has less of a role in the book than in the film. Overall, I do think there is more substance to the film; however, the novel was a great read. Especially reading it during a massive storm.
I took the background photo in 2009 during a tornado outbreak here in South Carolina. That tornado hit the back campground of a state park that I worked in and the cleanup was tremendous.
Things We Lost to the Water – Eric Nguyen
Told through multiple perspectives, Things We Lost to the Water, is the story of a family of Vietnamese refugees Hương (the mom), Tuấn (the oldest son), and Bình (the youngest son) who immigrated to Louisiana and spans the course of 27 years from 1978-2005.
Out of the three perspectives I identified and connected the most with Bình despite the fact that he’s a baby of the family. I found those sections in the novel to be the most compelling. Granted, I think if the book would have been isolated to one particular time in their history, I might have found Hương and Tuấn’s sections equally compelling. With the story stretching through massive amounts of time portions of the novel felt rushed and a little shallow. We were being told what was happening or what had happened instead of experiencing ourselves.
I also loved that a portion of the novel takes place during Hurricane Katrina. Again, I wish we could have spent more time in that world during that portion of the novel. I understand why it was included and the parallels between the storm and fleeing Vietnam but because it was so last minute, and that situation was rushed it felt like Nguyen threw it in just to include it instead of it serving a purpose to the overall story.
Still, I enjoyed it very much.
Anne of Windy Poplars – Lucy Maud Montgomery
With finishing, Anne of Windy Poplars, I’ve officially reached the halfway point of reading the Anne of Green Gables series. This novel introduces us to a very mature Anne who is now the principal of high school in Summerside on Prince Edward Island. The format of the novel is also slightly different than before as it’s mostly written in an epistolary format; letters from Anne to Gilbert, Gilbert who doesn’t make an appearance in this novel. The stories themselves also felt like they were episodic. By this I mean you could read each chapter individually and they could be standalone pieces. That said, I did miss spending time with Davy Keith, Marilla, Diana, and Gilbert but spending time with Anne always makes my heart happy.
Sex and the City – Candace Bushnell
When I shared that I had read, Sex and the City, the only caption to accompany it was, “I prefer the television series…” This was a sad revelation because despite what other reviewers had to say about the book I really, really wanted to love it. Afterall the series and its films are my binge watching to go to. Now I knew going into this reading excursion that it would be vastly different than its television and film counterparts; however, I wasn’t prepared.
The book is a collection of Bushnell’s columns written about her and her girlfriends navigating love and life in New York City. But for a majority of the collection there is no real substantial plot. That would be fine, most collections such as these don’t have plotlines; however, characters are introduced and the book itself seems to be unsure of itself. Is it a collection of columns or is it a fictional novel inspired by Bushnell’s real-world experiences?
We do meet versions of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda; however, they are all bit players appearing periodically within the text. Samantha is a producer in her 40s, Charlotte is an English journalist, Miranda is a cable television executive, and Carrie a journalist in her mid-30s.
Overall, not a great experience. But glad to check it off my list.
Normal People – Sally Rooney
Published in 2018, Normal People, follows Marianne and Connell from 2011 to 2015 as they navigate through an extremely toxic but highly addictive relationship. This was my second read of the novel and I loved it just as much as I did the first time.
I’ve written about this reading experience before in the Kiss Me I’m Irish Book Tag: When thinking about a book with a GREEN cover the first book that comes to mind is Sally Rooney’s Normal People one of my favorite books. Funny enough I initially didn’t want to read the book because of the polarizing commentary surrounding it. Especially regarding the lack of quotation marks establishing dialogue; however, once I started reading, I immediately became hooked on the relationship and dynamics of Marianne and Connell.
On May 26, 2021, I posted this to Instagram regarding the Normal People: “Before going into this novel I heard so many discouraging things, which story of my life, made me hesitant to read it. Then I did and absolutely loved it. Granted I am not a fan of Rooney’s writing structure; however, she worked magic on me, and I was absolutely gripped by Marianne and Connell’s relationship. In full transparency I understood their relationship, as well as characters, because I’ve very much walked in their shoes regarding a toxic relationship like theirs.”
Weather by Jenny Offill
This was my first ONE STAR review. Dislike doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about this book. I contemplated DNF-ing the book; however, I persevered. Normally I like this type of writing structure and style yet this one felt aimless, incoherent at times, and above all anticlimactic.
Just not my jam.