Six books and 1,945 pages later and I can say I have officially reached my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge of reading 50 Books for the year. Despite only reading six books there were a few incredible must reads, such as Selma Blair’s Mean Baby or revisiting Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Beautiful World Where Are You. The only real disappointment was Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girls Support Group. Question: have you read any of these books and if so what were your thoughts?
Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney
When I read, Conversations with Friends, last year I wasn’t exactly blown away. Sure, I liked it; however, I didn’t necessarily feel drawn to it in the same regards that I did to Normal People. Recently I decided to give both books a reread and this time I had more of a connection to the novel.
Frances the narrator of the novel intrigued me but constantly infuriated me. I found her behavior and actions to be childish at times and confusing. I just wanted to tell her, “Say what you mean and mean what you say…” But that is the point of the whole story and Rooney really captured what it’s like being a 21-year-old as they navigate relationships.
I know that Bobbi is a favorite of most readers; however, I can’t say the same for myself. I found myself being aggravated by her hypocritical behavior, her false sense of moral superiority, and judgmental actions. I mean… If Melissa wanted to have an affair with her, she should have been 110% down with it.
Nick and Melissa’s dynamics didn’t do much for me. I found them boring for the most part. Yet I dove in and consumed this read. Now to reread Beautiful World, Where Are You.
Anne’s Dream House – Lucy Maud Montgomery
Anne’s Dream House might be my absolute favorite of the Anne of Green Gables series. Yes. I know I’ve said that before, but they just keep getting better and better. Well aside from Anne of Windy Poplars. I didn’t care for that one much.
The beginning of the novel we are reunited with Anne and Gilbert as they get married to one another and move to the small seaside village of Four Winds. Like all the Anne novels we are introduced to a wide assortment of interesting characters. Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia Bryant, Leslie and Dick Moore, and Owen Ford. My favorite was probably Captain Jim. I could spend hours with him just listening to his tales.
While there is much to celebrate for Anne and Gilbert there is also a great amount of heartbreak as the two lost their first born, Joy, shortly after her birth. However, by the end of the story we are introduced to their second child, James Matthew, who has been named after Matthew Cuthbert and Captain Jim.
With concluding the fifth novel in the series my heart is happy and full yet a little sad. Now I only have three Anne of Green Gables novels left.
The Ghost in the House – Sara O’Leary
What if a ghost were haunting your house? What if you were that ghost?
Published by Doubleday Canada, The Ghost in the House has been on my radar for some time; however, because it’s not published here in America, I had to patiently wait and scour the interwebs to find a copy of this novel that wasn’t too expensive. Finally, I managed to accomplish this task and once the book arrived, I began reading it.
This is my first Sara O’Leary reading and her writing did not disappoint. I loved all the prose, her writing at times felt lyrical and the stop captured my attention immediately. Like many of the novels that I love, this book is a character study with very little plot. Fay, the novel’s narrator, wakes up on her piano wearing her pearls and her husband’s white shirt. As she wanders through the house, she realizes something is off and begins to believe her house is being haunted. After further investigation he realizes it is haunted and that she’s THE GHOST!
I’m not going to give away any of the spoilers but what I will say is it was a fantastic read.
Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney
Beautiful World, Where Are You is Sally Rooney’s third novel introducing the world to Alice, a novelist, living in rural Ireland and her best friend, Eileen, who lives in Dublin. With the two characters living in separate locations a majority of the novel is told in epistolary format as the two ladies spend most of the time corresponding with one another through email.
Like all of Rooney’s work, the characters have very unhealthy dynamics with one another and their significant others. Alice is seeing Felix, a man who works in a warehouse and isn’t used to the extravagant lifestyle that Alice is accustomed to. Out of Rooney’s collection of characters, Felix is probably my favorite. I like that he too is a queer character and would love to see that in more of her work.
While Beautiful World, Where Are You explores social class, friendship, and romance the themes and writing structure of the novel felt more mature than Rooney’s previous works.
The novel’s namesake comes from Friedrich Schiller.
The Final Girls Support Group – Grady Hendrix
What. A. Disappointment. I wrote more about why I found this one so disappointing. You can read by clicking here.
Mean Baby – Selma Blair
Sharp, real, and vulnerable, Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up, is an incredible piece of literature. I grew up watching Selma Blair on my television. Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, The Sweetest Thing, just to name a few films. In 2018, after my leukemia diagnosis, I came across her Instagram profile and decided to follow. A few weeks later, she announced publicly that she too was battling an illness that had hijacked her body. I remember that day vividly, headed to an appointment with my oncologist. I sobbed. I know this sounds strange, after all she is a complete and total stranger; however, I felt a weird connection.
Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up chronicles Selma Blair’s life from childhood, to becoming a working actress, and receiving her MS diagnosis. What I loved most about this work of art is how raw, real, and vulnerable Blair is. There are many lessons to be learned throughout these pages; however, two take-a-ways that I want to share with you all here. First remember to be compassionate with yourself. Second, if you feel something is off or wrong with your body it’s important to be your number one advocate. I learned both during my battle with leukemia and it was a great reminder while reading this memoir.
Finally, this book is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I can’t brag about it enough. There are even moments that felt reminiscent of Joan Didion, Sylvia Plath, and Carrie Fisher and I’m not just saying that because they are all mentioned in the book.