I’ve been reading so, so much lately. My internship is exhausting, emotionally and physically, and when I come home I often just can’t face writing. So I’ve been reading instead, books full of emotions that help me work through some of what I experience at work. I’ve had amazing luck in my choices lately, and thought I would share what I’ve been reading.
Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle – As much as I love L’Engle’s children’s books, I adore her adult fiction in an entirely different way. It’s honest and vulnerable, full of interesting characters and profound thoughts and tragedies and joys. And so when I saw this one in a library, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s the story of an actor named David, framed around the David story from the Bible–they have the same number of wives, and equally troubled family lives. Some of the action was utterly unsurprising, since I am familiar with the David story, but it was a beautiful novel. I cried a lot. I wrote quotes down. The characters were real and flawed and struggling. For a hint of how well L’Engle writes characters, I cried at the death of a character who’d been in the novel for twenty pages.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larson – Absolutely fantastic. I love Larson’s writing style, which is descriptive of real life: he tells you what characters ate for breakfast, what they put on, everything they do in a way that isn’t boring but makes them and the scenes feel real. It feels like this action could be happening in real life. The people feel real. I’ve always thought it was a great way to write a mystery.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The story of a German orphan in Germany during World War II, narrated by Death–yes, it’s about as happy as you’d expect, but it was also brilliantly written. Rather than being morbid or pessimistic, it was both honest and woven through with threads of hope. It was a wonderful, powerful story of the power of words and actions both.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – The story of the abolitionist Grimké sisters as well as the story of their fictional slave girl, Handful. It was a story about women and resistance both loud and quiet, about growing up and discovering who you are and finding out what you are meant to do. Lots of good characters, and beautiful writing.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova – The story of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she’s in her fifties, this was a story that was heartbreaking and powerful, but also humanizing. I hear about the struggles of families of Alzhimer’s patients, but little about the struggles and fears of the. Patients themselves.
The Moor by Laurie R. King – a reread, because I bought this book for 30¢ at a local thrift store. I adore Mary Russell, who’s intelligent and humanly flawed, and they’re smart, enjoyable mysteries even when I’ve read the book multiple times before.
A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King – Another reread, but one of my favorite Mary Russell novels. Russell changes a lot through the book, and there’s a lot of theology and women’s rights talk.
As you can imagine, there has been a lot of tears and a lot of emotions, but in a good way. It’s been healing and beautiful.
What have you been reading? What should I read next?